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Rookes V. Barnard Notes

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ROOKES V. BARNARD FACTS My Lords, on March 16, 1956, the appellant's employment, which had lasted nine years with B.O.A.C., was lawfully determined by notice. The reason why it was terminated was because on January 10, 1956, the members of the A.E.S.D., a trade union to which the appellant belonged and from which he had resigned, served notice on B.O.A.C. "that if the non-unionist Mr. D. E. Rookes. is not removed from the design office by 4 p.m. Friday, January 13, 1956, a withdrawal of labour of all A.E.S.D. membership will take place." On January 13 the appellant was suspended from his employment and the strike thereby averted; and thereafter notice terminating his employment altogether was given to him, as I have said. The three respondents were officials of the union and two of them were employed by B.O.A.C. It is not disputed that the notice constituted a threat of breach of contract by the members of A.E.S.D. It is true that any individual employee could lawfully have terminated his contract by giving seven days' notice and if the matter is looked at in that way, the breach might not appear to be a very serious one. But that would be a technical way of looking at it. As Donovan L.J. said in the Court of Appeal, the object of the notice was not to terminate the contract either before or after the expiry of seven days. The object was to break the contract by withholding labour but keeping the contract alive for as long as the employers would tolerate the breach without exercising their right of rescission. In the second place, there was an agreement in force between A.E.S.D. and B.O.A.C. in which the former undertook that no strike of its members would ever take place; It is not therefore denied that the service of the notice was an infringement of B.O.A.C.'s rights. But the question is whether the respondents thereby infringed any right of the appellant. The appellant's choice of remedies was restricted by the Trade Union exemptions, the only wrong which he asserts as having been committed by the respondents is the tort of intimidation. HOLDING Exemplary damages are essentially different from ordinary damages. The object of damages in the usual sense of the term is to compensate. The object of exemplary damages is to punish and deter. It may well be thought that this confuses the civil and criminal functions of the law; and indeed, so far as I know, the idea of exemplary damages is peculiar to English law. There is

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