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Daiichi v Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty [2004] 1 WLR 1503

Whether a company could be a victim of harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Facts

A number of unincorporated groups and their supporters (S) who campaigned for the rights of animals targeted a campaign against Daiichi UK Ltd., (H) a company which experimented on live animals. As part of that campaign S targeted the corporate customers (D) of H. D sought injunctions under section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (1997 Act)to prohibit the conduct of S, which D alleged amounted to harassment under section 7 of the 1997 Act.

Issue

S claimed that companies could not be victims of harassment under the 1997 Act. The issue in question was thus whether a company could be a victim of harassment under the 1997 Act.

Held

A company could not be a victim of harassment under the 1997 Act which applies to persons and not corporate entities. While under the Interpretation Act 1928 the word "person" is usually to be understood as including a body of persons corporate or incorporate, the legislative history of the 1997 Act indicted that the Act could only apply to natural persons and not corporations. The application was granted in part, with the applications of the corporate claimants dismissed and the applications of the non-corporate applicants granted. Injunctive relief could be granted to the non-corporate applicants and the employees of the corporate applicants who were “persons” under the 1997 Act. It was found to be necessary for the proper protection of the non-corporate applicants to restrict the rights to freedom of speech and of assembly and association of S from unlawful harassment.


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