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9 Managerial L. 1 (1970-1971)

handle is hein.journals/ijlm9 and id is 1 raw text is: EDWARDS v. SOCIETY OF GRAPHICAL AND ALLIED TRADES

Lord Denning M.R., Sachs L.J. and Megaw L.J.
July 30, 1970
Trade union - Membership - Breach of contract by wrongful termination -
Measure of damages - Actual loss to date of assessment - Future loss, how
estimated? - Duty to mitigate - Union rules giving arbitrary power over
temporary members - Effect on man's right to work - Whether invalid.
The plaintiff was a Grade I craftsman, employed in a 100 per cent. union
shop since 1960, who held a temporary membership card in a trade union
covering the printing industry. In 1966, under a scheme operated by the
union, he authorised the deduction by his employers from his pay of his
weekly union contributions; but owing to a mistake by a union official the
deductions were not made and the contributions remained unpaid for more than
six weeks. The plaintiff was unaware of the fact until he was told by a union
official that he was no longer a member by reason of rule 18(4) (h) which
provided that Temporary membership shall terminate automatically if the
member becomes over six weeks in arrears; and under subrule (4) (k) temporary
members had no right of appeal from any decision of their branch committee.
He made two applications for re-admission but both were rejected by his branch
committee and his employers were obliged by threat of strike action to dismiss
him. He began an action against the union claiming damages for breach of con-
tract and a declaration that he had never ceased to be a temporary member.
The union put in a defence claiming that his exclusion had been properly made.
Vacancies for skilled work in the plaintiff's grade were scarce in the area in
which he lived and were almost all controlled by the union which operated as
the labour exchange. The plaintiff was unemployed for the best part of two
years though he received unemployment pay. For some months he obtained
work in a non-union shop but was dismissed in May, 1969, for refusing to do
work which was admittedly outside his contract terms. Meanwhile in April,
1969, the union admitted that he had been wrongly excluded and that he was
still a temporary member, and thereafter sent him particulars of some vacancies;
but as they either were or appeared to be in an inferior grade he did not accept
any of them. At the trial of his action Buckley J. held, on the issue of damages,
that he had not been shown to have acted unreasonably in mitigation of the
damage, and awarded him the whole of his actual financial loss of earnings to
the date of the trial as well as a sum for estimated future loss of earning capa-
city at £676 a year by applying the method used in personal injury cases and
multiplying the annual loss by 10, a total sum of £7,971.


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