Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018

Allen v Flood [1898] AC 1

Tort  – Damages – Interference with Trade – Malice – Intent to Injure – Motive


Flood and Walter was a shipwright employed on a ship, liable to be discharged at any time. Fellow workers objected to their employment as they had worked for a rival employer. Allen was a trade union representative for the other employees on the ship and approached the employers, telling them that if they did not discharge Flood and Walter, the other employees would strike. The employers consequently discharged Flood and Walter and refused to employ them again, where they otherwise would. Flood and Walter brought action for maliciously inducing a breach of contract.


Whether the judge erred in finding that Allen had induced a procurement of contract unlawfully.


The decision was reversed, finding that Allen had not violated any legal rights of Flood and Walter. There was no legal right for them to be employed by employer and Allen had not carried out an unlawful act and had not used any unlawful means, in procuring the employee’s dismissal. Allen was found to have made a representation to the employers of what would happen if they continued to employee Flood and Walter. He relied the events of what he believed would happen and the employers believed him. This was not considered to be an obstruction or disturbance of any right: it was not the procurement of the violation of any right. Allen’s conduct was not actionable, however malicious or bad his motive might be. The employees were not entitled to damages and no interference requiring remedy was found to exist.

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