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Warren v Mendy

[1989] 1 WLR 853

Case summary last updated at 04/01/2020 15:00 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Warren v Mendy

B, a boxer, had a contract to be exclusively managed, promoted and trained by P for 3 years, but later lost confidence in B and decided to find a new manager. P sought an injunction against D who was in talks to take over as B’s manager, preventing D from doing this. Where a contractual obligation involved the continuing exercise of some special skill or talent and a high degree of mutual trust and confidence, the court would not issue injunctions to tie one party to the other. To do so would de facto be compelling a positive obligation, which courts are reluctant to do. Also in this case, because of the trust fund arrangements to which P had access, damages would be ineffective as a remedy. 
Nourse LJ: general principles of injunctions: court ought not to enforce the performance of the negative obligations if their enforcement will effectively compel the servant to perform his positive obligations under the contract; compulsion is to be decided on the effects it will have on the tied in party e.g. psychological, physical, material etc; “An injunction will less readily be granted where there are obligations of mutual trust and confidence, more especially where the servant's trust in the master may have been betrayed or his confidence in him has genuinely gone.” However, with regard to the sanctity of contract, judges will regard with scrutiny a claim by a servant that they are under a need to leave the arrangement so as to maintain their skill; generally also there has to be an inadequacy of damages as a remedy. He was also keen to avoid indirectly permitting specific performance, which is the effect a prohibitory injunction on D would have had on B. He also describes the Nelson case as “extremely unrealistic,” a decision this case would seem to contradict (since B is free to quit boxing). 

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