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Law Notes Tort Law Notes

Economic Torts Notes

Updated Economic Torts Notes

Tort Law Notes

Tort Law

Approximately 1070 pages

Tort Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB tort law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

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Table of Contents

Textbook 2

Markesinis and Deakin 2

McBride and Bagshaw 2

Weir, Economic Torts 3

Cases 4

General 4

Stevens, Torts and Rights (2007) 297–298. 5

Deakin & Randall, ‘Rethinking the Economic Torts’ (2009) 72 MLR 519 6

Inducing a breach of Contract (Lumley v Gye tort) 7

Lumley v Gye (1853) 3 E&B 216 9

*Hill v First National Finance [1988] 3 All ER 801 10

OBG v Allan; Douglas v Hello! [2007] UKHL 21, [2008] 1 AC 1 11

Howarth, ‘Against Lumley v Gye’ (2005) 68 MLR 195 12

Carty, The Modern Functions of the Economic Torts (2015, CLJ) 13

Intimidation (a species of the “unlawful means” tort? involving threat to commit an unlawful act?) 14

*Rookes v Barnard [1964] AC 1129 14

OBG v Allen; Douglas v Hello! [2007] UKHL 21, [2008] 1 AC 1, [7], [61] (Lord Hoffmann) 15

Revenue and Customs Commissioners v Total Network SL [2008] UKHL 19, [2008] 1 AC 1174, [99] (Lord Walker), [124] (Lord Mance). 15

Causing loss by unlawful means (“Indirect Interference” Tort) 15

Allen v Flood 16

*OBG v Allan; Douglas v Hello! [2007] UKHL 21, [2008] 1 AC 1 17

Conspiracy 19

Allen v Flood (1895) 20

Crofter Hand Woven Harris Tweed Co v Veitch [1942] AC 435 21

*Revenue and Customs Commissioners v Total Network SL [2008] UKHL 19, [2008] 1 AC 1174 22

Deceit 23

Edgington v Fitzmaurice (1885) 29 Ch D 459 23

*Derry v Peek [1899] 14 AC 337 24

Smith New Court Securities v Scrimgeour Vickers [1997] AC 254 (remoteness, damages) 24

Injurious Falsehood 25


Markesinis and Deakin

The principle that malice against C is not a sufficient basis for liability is established in Allen v Flood largely through concern that the notion of malice was too vague to be applied consistently by the courts and (then) juries – it denotes something more than intention to hurt C, but is not the same as an illegitimate motive

  • R. Epstein: malice means more than an intention to inflict some injury (all competition and most economic activity will do that). It refers to actions done out of spite or ill will, where someone is prepared to impose costs upon himself solely to make someone else worse off.

American example: Tuttle v Buck (held that D was liable for driving C out of business by setting up a rival barber in his home town for reasons related entirely to a personal grudge).

  • English law would not have followed this because the means were lawful and D acted alone.

American requirement that D should disprove an implication of malice by showing that he acted out of economic self-interest notion of prima facie tort liability (recognized in English law only in the case of conspiracy to injure):

  • Quinn v Leathem - HL held that acts carried out by a combination of workers with the aim of driving out of business an employer who took on non-union labor could be tortious if the actions were motivated by ill will against C personally and not economic self-protection of Ds.

Thus, except for conspiracy, English law has adopted a formal criterion (presence of unlawfulness) and not substantive criteria:

  • Lord Devlin (writing extra judicially): Allen v Flood has thereby dammed up a stream of liability which could have developed within the common law, though only a “tenuous barrier” holds it back

But Allen v Flood remains (just) good law, and most of the responsibility for deciding the limits of legitimate competition has shifted to Parliament (competition legislation).


Very little unity in the different economic torts – probably because of the context in which most modern caselaw arises (industrial disputes with trade unions and employers):

  • Parliament gave trade unions lots of immunity (in Trade Disputes Act 1906) from acts that would otherwise be tortious

  • But the HL (since Rookes v Barnard) started expending economic tort liability to “outflank” the immunities through creating new nominate torts (esp. interference with trade by unlawful means, inducing breach of contract expanded to cover interference with contractual performance…)

  • This created a tension between courts and Parliament, which probably resulted in a lack of synthesis as Parliament attempted to neutralize the area of law surrounding economic torts

  • There is now evidence that in non-trade-dispute contexts, the courts are rowing back from some earlier expansionary decisions

McBride and Bagshaw

Six types of economic torts

  1. Inducing a breach of contract: A encourages B to breach contract with C; will be liable to compensate C for loss

  2. Intentional infliction of harm by unlawful means: A intentionally harms B by committing/threatening to commit a civil wrong (breach of contract, tort, equitable wrong) in respect of C

  3. Lawful Means Conspiracy: A and B together inflict loss on C for no legitimate reason

  4. Unlawful Means Conspiracy: A and B together inflict loss on C using unlawful means

  5. Deceit: A intentionally lies to B to induce B to do something, and B suffers a loss by doing it

  6. Malicious falsehood: A deliberately lies to B about C and C suffers a loss (liable to C)

  7. (Outside syllabus) Passing off: A induces people to buy his goods by representing that they are made by B

Economic Torts

  1. Termed thus because 1) usually cause PEL, 2) easiest routs to recover compensation for Vs suffering PEL, 3) thus these torts help protect Cs from suffering PEL at others’ hands

  2. Shouldn’t be termed thus because:

    1. Can eg. pure distress fall within these torts or are only PEL covered?

    2. Giving them same name suggests some other similarity between them – may not exist

    3. Name suggests that these torts are only relevant to big businesses/commercial law and hide their real value in tort as shown by this case:

      1. Allen v Flood:

        1. Arguably the most important case in tort because it is about freedom, in holding that despite morality, in law one is free to beggar his neighbor as long as ne doesn’t do anything unlawful/get anyone else to do anything unlawful.

        2. Facts: Cs employed to do woodwork on a ship on day-to-day basis and D, whose employees worked on the ironwork, told Cs’ employer...

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