Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

Rookes v. Barnard — and After (1964)

Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2017), 38, (1), 81–95.

Abstract

Rookes v. Barnard [1964], extending and applying the tort of intimidation to industrial disputes, is the most momentous decision on trade unions and trade disputes since the Taff Vale case [1901]. It is a frontal attack on the right to strike. For those who have to give notice to terminate their contract of employment – most workers after the Contracts of Employment Act 1963 – the threat of damages will hang over them, and over any union officers who act in concert with them. Any firm of suppliers or of customers of a firm, which lose a contract with that firm owing to a threat of strike against it in breach of the required notice, will also be able to claim for damages. Moreover, the ‘labour injunction’ is being revived. The repressive tendencies of the courts, which in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had to be repeatedly counteracted by Parliament, are on the point of being revived. A new statute is required to overrule Rookes.

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Author details

Kahn-Freund, Otto