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Hill v CA Parsons Ltd [1972] Ch. 305

Contract law – Breach of contract – Injunctions – Employment

Facts

The defendant, an engineering company, agreed with a trade union that after 12 months, their technical staff would become members of the trade union. The plaintiff was an employee, who had worked for the engineering company for over 30 years and had recently joined a professional engineer union. The defendants gave him one month’s notice to join their trade union, which he did not do. The plaintiff was 63 years of age. Shortly afterward, the company terminated the employment of the plaintiff and thirty-seven others, with one month’s notice. The plaintiff claimed for an injunction to prevent the defendants from terminating his employment. The trial judge held that he did not have the power to grant this to the plaintiff. The plaintiff subsequently appealed the decision.

Issue

The key issue for the court was to understand whether the plaintiff could impose an injunction upon the defendant’s termination of employment. This was an important decision for the court as if the plaintiff could not use this, it is likely that his employment would be terminated early and at 63 years of age, this might have given him difficulty. He would also only have damages available to him if this action failed.

Held

The court allowed the plaintiff’s appeal. The plaintiff was owed at least six months’ notice with regards to the termination of his employment. Further to this, damages were not considered to be an adequate remedy and therefore the plaintiff was entitled to be able to rely on an injunction to prevent the defendant’s actions.


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