Social Origins and Modern Developments
Appendix: Digest of Nineteenth Century Cases
1 ENGLISH CASES Subject Matter Digest Knowledge of employer’s customers relied on to seduce their custom Lord Kenyon CJ: ‘A servant, while engaged in the service of his master, has no right to do any act which may injure his trade or undermine his business; but every one has a right, if he can, to better his situation in the world; and if he does it by means not contrary to law, though the master may be eventually injured, it is damnum abs injuria. There is nothing morally bad, or very improper in a servant, who has it in contemplation at a future period to set up for himself, to endeavour to conciliate the regard of his master’s customers, and to recommend himself to them so as to procure some business from them as well as others.’ The Vice-Chancellor: ‘If this claim of monopoly can be maintained, without any limitation of time, it is a much better right than that of a patentee: but the violation of right, with which the defendant is charged, does not fall within the cases, in which the Court has restrained a fraudulent attempt by one man to invade another’s property; to appropriate the benefit of a valuable interest in the nature of good-will, consisting in the character of his trade or production, established by individual merit.’ Lord Eldon LC: ‘The difficulty in such a case was, how to decree the specific performance of the agreement. Either it was a secret, or it was none....
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