Riordan v Butler and Others

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
Judgment Date01 March 1940
Date01 March 1940
Riordan v. Butler and Others
DAVID RIORDAN
Plaintiff
and
JAMES BUTLER, PATRICK HUMBLE and JOSEPH POWER
Defendants.

Master and servant - Dismissal of employee without notice - Dismissal caused by threats by co-workers to withdraw their labour and to cease work immediately - Employment only terminable by one week's notice - Interference with contract of employment by illegal means - Right of action by dismissed employee against co-workers - Immunity given by the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, no defence.

Appeal, from the Circuit Court, heard at Waterford, by O'Byrne J., sitting as a Judge of the High Court on Circuit.

The facts, as set out in the indorsement of claim in the plaintiff's Civil Bill, were as follows:

On the 27th March, 1939, the plaintiff was employed as a plasterer by one, Thomas McGrath, a builder and contractor, of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, at 4 per week wages. The plaintiff's employment with McGrath consisted in assisting in the carrying out of a contract for a large housing scheme by McGrath, and the plaintiff alleged that his contract with McGrath would, in the ordinary course of events, and except for the unlawful threats and interference and acts of the defendants hereinafter mentioned, have continued for a period of fifteen months. On the 29th March, 1938, the plaintiff reported for work at the place of the said housing scheme, and McGrath was ready and willing to avail of the plaintiff's labour and services and perform his part of the above mentioned contract. But before the plaintiff began to work for McGrath, the defendants, acting by the defendant, James Butler, intimated to McGrath that unless the plaintiff was dismissed they would cease to work for him. McGrath was thereby induced to break his contract with the plaintiff, and, acting under the influence of the defendants' unlawful threat, he dispensed with the plaintiff's services. At the time of the said unlawful threat the defendants were employed as plasterers on the said housing scheme by McGrath. The plaintiff further stated that he depended for his livelihood on his work as a plasterer, and since the 29th March, 1938, the defendants had persisted in their unlawful interference with the plaintiff's right to dispose of his labour as he willed. Particulars of the damages claimed (300) were then set out.

The defence consisted of a denial of a contract between the plaintiff and McGrath, and a further denial, that, if such contract did exist, the defendants induced McGrath to break his contract with the plaintiff, or that they used any unlawful threats in order to influence McGrath to dispense with the plaintiff's services. The defendants further submitted that they were members of a Trade Society, viz., the Operative Plasterers' Trade Society, lawfully constituted, and that any act of interference on their part as between the plaintiff and McGrath was an act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, and therefore was not actionable in law within the terms of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, inasmuch as the plaintiff refused to become a member of their Union, and, in breach of an undertaking given by him to the Society, worked with and continued to work with unqualified plasterers or handymen. The defendants further submitted that the defendant, the said James Butler, acting as representative on behalf of the other defendants, and of all the other plasterers working for McGrath, all of whom were members of the said Trade Society, told McGrath, as instructed by his co-workers, that, if the plaintiff was employed on the said building scheme, he not being a member of the said Society, the other plasterers, who were members, would be obliged to cease work...

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8 cases
  • Taylor v Smyth
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 1 January 1991
    ...BARNARD 1964 1 AER 367 CENTRAL CANADA POTASH CO LTD V GOVERNMENT OF SASKATCHEWAN 88 DLR 609 COOPER V MILLEA 1938 IR 749 RIORDAN V BUTLER 1940 IR 347 WARD V LEWIS & ORS 1955 1 AER 55 O'MAHONY V GAFFNEY 1986 IR 36 GREEN V ROZEN & ORS 1955 2 AER 797 LONRHO LTD V SHELL PERTOLEUM CO 1981 2 AE......
  • Rookes v Barnard
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 21 January 1964
    ...such an extension of the wrong are the two Irish cases of Cooper v. Millea and others, 1938 I.R. 749 before Gavan Duffy, J. and Riordan v. Butler and others, 1940 I.R. 347 in which O'Byrne, J. followed Gavan Duffy, J. I am aware also that in the former case the learned Judge erred in attr......
  • Morgan v Fry
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 27 June 1968
    ...... wanted the men of the Transport Union to work at the lock, they would have to dismiss the others. . 7 On 19th March, 1963, the Staff Relations Officer interviewed three of the ...That appears from the Irish cases of Cooper v. Miilea (1938 Irish Reports, p. 749) and Riordan v. Butler ( 1940 Irish Reports, p. 347 ). In the latter case the plaintiff was a plasterer but he ......
  • Bula Ltd v Tara Mines Ltd (No. 2)
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 1 January 1988
    ...94 L.J. Ch. 347; 133 L.T. 370; 41 T.L.R. 529. Cooper v. MilleaIRDLTR [1938] I.R. 749; (1938) 72 I.L.T.R. 209. Riordan v. ButlerIRDLTR [1940] I.R. 347; (1940) 74 I.L.T.R. 152. Sheriff v. McMullenIRDLTR [1952] I.R. 236; (1951) 91 I.L.T.R. 60. Rookes v. BarnardELRWLRUNKUNK [1964] A.C. 1129; [1......
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