Premier Dairies Ltd v Doyle

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeO'Flaherty J.
Judgment Date25 January 1996
Neutral Citation1996 WJSC-SC 2228
Docket Number[1995 No. ,341/95
Date25 January 1996

1996 WJSC-SC 2228

THE SUPREME COURT

Hamilton C.J.,

O'Flaherty J.,

Blayney J.,

341/95
345/95
PREMIER DAIRIES LTD v. DOYLE

BETWEEN:

PREMIER DAIRIES LIMITED
Plaintiff/Respondent

AND

TOMMY DOYLE AND PAT HARRIES (OTHERWISE HARRIS)
Defendants/Appellants
1

Judgment delivered on the 25th day of January, 1996 by O'Flaherty J. [NEM DISS]

2

This is an appeal by the defendants from the judgment and order of Kinlen J. of the 29th September, 1995, granting the plaintiffs an interlocutory injunction until the hearing of the action in respect of restraints contained in distribution agreements entered into between the plaintiffs and the defendants.

3

On the 11th September, 1995, Johnson J. had granted four interim injunctions to the plaintiffs restraining the defendants from:-

4

(1) publishing words to the effect that the plaintiffs" products are substandard, lacking in quality, out of date, not fresh or otherwise not fit for human consumption;

5

(2) intimidating the employees or agents of the plaintiffs;

6

(3) intimidating or unlawfully persuading any of their customers in the areas assigned to them by the distribution agreements not to accept the plaintiffs" products, and

7

(4) engaging in or being associated with either directly or indirectly the distribution of any products in the area formerly served by them under their distribution agreements with the plaintiffs of products which compete with or are likely to compete with any of the plaintiffs" products supplied within the said area.

8

On the 13th September, the defendants unsuccessfully applied to Johnson J. to set aside the fourth injunction. Then the hearing of the interlocutory application went ahead before Kinlen J. on the 20th, 21st and 22nd September and he gave his reserved judgment on the 29th September affirming the first three injunctions (by consent) and granting the fourth, despite the objections of the defendants.

9

The background facts to the case, about which there is no serious dispute, are set out in an affidavit sworn by Gerald Egan, who is the plaintiffs" sales manager.

10

Premier Dairies Limited are the major dairy supplying door step customers in the Dublin area. It was formed in 1968 by the amalgamation of three well known dairies and the later addition of Hughes Brothers Dairy.

11

Traditionally milk was delivered to customers by roundsmen employed by the dairies. In 1984, however, the plaintiffs introduced a new system of milk distribution. Thereafter, milk was distributed in local areas by independent contractors who entered standard forms of contract whereby they agreed to purchase Premier Dairies products at a margin determined from time to time, and to deliver milk to customers, mostly householders, but in some cases to small local shops also.

12

A feature of the contract is that the milk roundsman is in a position, on determination of the contract, to sell or transfer the right to the route that he has worked, and this right has become quite valuable. Both defendants had, in fact, "purchased" their rights from previous distributors. Furthermore, by clause 7 of the agreement, the distributor agrees not to engage in or be interested in or promote trade (either directly or indirectly) in products similar to Premier products during the term of the agreement. By clause 9 of the agreement he agrees that on termination of the agreement he will not for a period of twelve months thereafter engage in or be associated with, either directly or indirectly, the distribution of any products in his area which compete with or are likely to compete with any of the plaintiffs" products without their prior written consent. The agreement also provides for summary termination of the agreement if the distributor fails to pay the plaintiffs promptly for the products supplied.

13

The first defendant had an agreement with the plaintiffs and his route covered part of the Tallaght area; the second named defendant, under his agreement, had responsibility for part of the Shankill, Foxrock, Killiney and Loughlinstown areas of Dublin. Both defendants got into arrears of payment with the plaintiffs; in the case of Mr. Doyle, he ran up a debt of IR£22,082.82 and in Mr. Harries's case the company was owed the sum of IR£16,538.09. There were negotiations as to how their indebtedness might be reduced, which came to nothing and, finally, on the 3rd September, 1995 the company terminated the agreements with the defendants.

14

There is no dispute that the defendants were in breach of contract.

15

On the next day, 4th September, each of the defendants delivered to all their customers within their respective areas a note in the following terms:-

"Dear Customer,

As you know I am in dispute with Premier Dairies. They are overcharging us for the milk we buy. They are also giving us out of date milk, we have been negotiating with them for some time over margins and quality but they have now attacked us and refused to supply us.

I am now forced to deliver another...

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3 cases
  • Minter Ellison Rudd Watts v Hampton
    • New Zealand
    • High Court
    • 20 July 2012
    ...ed) at [1179]. 12 Paul A McDermott Res Judicata and Double Jeopardy (Butterworths, Dublin, 1999) at [4.13]. 13 Premier Dairies v Doyle [1996] 1 IR 37 (HC), affirmed (on other grounds) [1996] 1 IR 37 14 Ibid. 15 Laws of New Zealand Estoppel (online ed) at [20]. 16 Joseph Lynch Land Co Ltd v ......
  • Primor Plc (Pmpa) v Freaney
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 9 February 1995
    ......- 29/9/95) - [1996] 1 I.R. 37 |Premier Dairies Ltd. v. Doyle| INJUNCTION Interlocutory Fair question - Contract - Terms - ......
  • Minter Ellison Rudd Watts v Hampton HC Chch
    • New Zealand
    • High Court
    • 20 July 2012
    ...(online ed) at [1179]. Paul A McDermott Res Judicata and Double Jeopardy (Butterworths, Dublin, 1999) at [4.13]. Premier Dairies v Doyle [1996] 1 IR 37 (HC), affirmed (on other grounds) [1996] 1 IR 37 formulation in the New Brunswick Railway case. Commenting on the effect of that approach, ......

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