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Scottish Court of Session Decisions

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> Scottish Court of Session Decisions >> Belmont Laundry v Aberdeen Steam Laundry [1898] ScotCS CSIH_2 (04 November 1898)
Cite as: [1898] ScotCS CSIH_2, (1898) 6 SLT 192, (1898) 1 F 45

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04 November 1898

Belmont Laundry Co., Limited,
Aberdeen Steam Laundry Co., Limited.

Lord Adam.—This is an action of damages brought by the Belmont Laundry Company against the Aberdeen Steam Laundry Company and Robert Innes, their manager.

Shortly stated, the grounds of action are that Innes was employed by the pursuers as manager of their laundry; that he was engaged as a yearly servant for the year from 9th March 1897 to 8th March 1898; that on 27th August 1897 he intimated to them his resignation of his position of manager of their laundry; that he left their employment on the 27th September 1897, and entered on an engagement with the defenders, in whose employment he still is, and has thus broken his contract with them.

As against the defenders the Aberdeen Steam Laundry Company it is averred that Innes was induced to break his engagement with the pursuers through the continued solicitations of that company, who had approached him through their directors, and by their offers to give him an increased salary in the event of his leaving the pursuers and going to them. It is further averred that the pursuers intimated to both defenders that as Innes's engagement with them did not expire till 8th March 1898 they would both be held liable in damages in the event of Innes failing to fulfil his engagement; that nevertheless the Aberdeen Laundry Company allowed Innes to leave the pursuers and to enter their service in the full knowledge of his contract in the face of the pursuers' warning, and without taking, as they were bound to do, sufficient steps to satisfy themselves on the subject of his contract with the pursuers, and that in so doing they acted wrongfully and illegally, and in prejudice of the pursuers' rights.

The conclusion of the action is, that the defenders should be ordained, conjunctly and severally, to pay to the pursuers the sum of £150 sterling.

Two pleas were argued to us,—1st, that the case was irrelevant, and 2d, that it was incompetent.

With reference to the plea of incompetency it was founded on this:—That the defenders were concluded against, conjunctly and severally only, whereas the record did not disclose any case of joint and several liability against them. The Sheriff-substitute has repelled this plea, and I think he is right.

The only wrong complained of by the pursuers is that Innes left their employment as and when he did, and the only damages they have suffered are the consequences of that wrong. But that wrong is averred to be the result of acts of both the defenders—that of the defenders the Aberdeen Steam Laundry Company in inducing Innes to break his contract with them, either directly or by “harbouring” him in the knowledge of his contract with the pursuers—and that of Innes in breaking his contract. No doubt the ground of action against each defender is different—that against Innes being breach of contract, and that against the Aberdeen Steam Laundry Company the doing of a wrongous and illegal act—but they both contributed to produce the one wrong of which the pursuers complain, and therefore I think they are conjunctly and severally liable in the consequences. I am therefore of opinion that the plea of incompetency should be repelled.

As regards the plea of irrelevancy I am not prepared to sustain it hoc statu. I think it is very desirable that the actual facts should be ascertained before deciding any law in the case. I would propose, therefore, that, “before answer,” we should allow the parties a proof of their averments.

Lord Kinnear and the Lord President concurred.

LORD M'LAREN was absent.

1 F 45

The permission for BAILII to publish the text of this judgment
was granted by Scottish Council of Law Reporting and
the electronic version of the text was provided by Justis Publishing Ltd.
Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

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