Lumley v. Wagner | 1 DeG, M & G 604 | May 26, 1852 | Test Account


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Lumley v. Wagner

Original Creator: Charles Fried Current Version: Test Account

1 DeG., M & G. 604, 42 Eng. Rep. 687 (Ch. 1852)
Before the Lord Chancellor Lord St. Leonards.
May 22, 26, 1852.


[604] [S. C. 5 De G. & Sm. 485; 21 L. J. Ch. 898; 16 Jur. 871. See Adamson v. Gill, 1868, 17 L. T. 466 ; Catt v. Tourle, 1868, L. R. 4 Ch. 660 ; Merchants’' Trading Co. v. Banner, 1871, L. R. 12 Eg. 23. Observed upon, Montague v. Flockon, 1873, L. R. 16 Eq. 189. Considered, Wolverhampton and Walsal Railway v. London and Northwestern Railway, 1873, L. R. 16 Eq. 433. See Fothergill v. Rowland, 1873, L. R. 17 Eq. 141; Warne v. Routledge, 1873, L. R. 18 Eq. 499 ; Leech v. Schweder, L. R. 9 Ch. 468 (n.);j Bowen v. Hall, 1881, 6 Q. B. D. 341 ; Alderson v. Maddison, 1881, 7 Q. B. D. 181 ; 8 App. Cas. 467; Donnell v. Bennett, 1883, 22 Ch. D. 838. Discussed, Whitwood Chemical Co. v. Hardman [1891], 2 Ch. 416. See Ryan v. Mutual tontine, &c., Association [1893], 1 Ch. 127. Distinguished, Davis v. Foreman [1894], 3 Ch. 654. See Robinson V. Heuer [1898], 2 Ch. 458; Manchester Ship Canal Co. v. Manchester Racecourse Go. [1901], 2 Ch. 37;  Formby v. Baker [1903], 2 Ch. 553.]


J. W. agreed with B. L. that she, J. W., would sing at B. L.'s theatre during certain period of time, and would not sing elsewhere without his written authority. Held, on a bill filed to restrain J. W. from singing for a third party, and granting an injunction for that purpose, that the positive and negative stipulations of the agreement formed but one contract, and that the Court would interfere to prevent the violation of the negative stipulation, although it could not enforce the specific performance of the entire contract.


Kemble v. Kean, 6 Sim. 333, and Kimberley v. Jennings, 6 Sim. 340, overruled.


The Plaintiff relied on the Defendants' knowledge of a fact said to be communicated to them in a letter, of which no copy was kept, but the receipt of which the Defendants admitted. The Defendants denied that it contained the statement alleged, but did not produce the letter, or satisfactorily account for its nonproduction. Held, under these circumstances, that the Plaintiff's representation must be taken to be true.


The bill in this suit was filed on the 22d April 1852, by Benjamin Lumley, the lessee of Her Majesty's Theatre, against Johanna Wagner, Albert Wagner, her father, and Frederick Gye, the lessee of Covent Garden Theatre: it stated that in November 1851 Joseph Bacher, as the agent of the Defendants Albert Wagner and Johanna Wagner, came to and concluded at Berlin an agreement in writing in the French language, bearing date the 9th November 1851, and which agreement, being translated into English, was as follows :—


" The undersigned Mr. Benjamin Lumley, possessor of Her Majesty's Theatre at London, and of the Italian Opera at Paris, of the one part, and Mademoiselle Johanna [688 Wagner, cantatrice of the Court of His Majesty the King of Prussia, with the consent of her father, Mr. A. Wagner, residing at Berlin, of the other part, have concerted and concluded the following contract :—First, Mademoiselle Johanna Wagner binds herself to sing three months at the theatre of Mr. Lumley, Her Majesty's, at London, to date from the 1st of April 1852 (the [605] time necessary for the journey comprised therein), and to give the parts following:  1st, Romeo, Montecchi; 2d, Fides, Prophete ; 3d, Valentine, Huguenots ; 4th, Anna, Don Juan; 5th, Alice, Robert le Diable; 6th, an opera chosen by common accord.—Second, The three first parts must necessarily be, 1st, Romeo, 2d, Fides, 3d, Valentine; these parts once sung, and then only she will appear, if Mr. Lumley desires it, in the three other operas mentioned aforesaid.—Third, These six parts belong exclusively to Mademoiselle Wagner, and any other cantatrice shall not presume to sing them during the three months of her engagement. If Mr. Lumley happens to be prevented by any cause soever from giving these operas, he is, nevertheless, held to pay Mademoiselle Johanna Wagner the salary stipulated lower down for the number of her parts as if she had sung them.-—Fourth, In the case where Mademoiselle Wagner should be prevented by reason of illness from singing in the course of a month as often as it has been stipulated, Mr. Lumley is bound to pay the salary only for the parts sung.—Fifth, Mademoiselle Johanna Wagner binds herself to sing twice a week during the run of the three months; however, if she herself was hindered from singing twice in any week whatever, she will have the right to give at a later period the omitted representation.—Sixth, If Mademoiselle Wagner, fulfilling the wishes of the direction, consent to sing more than twice a week in the course of three months, this last will give to Mademoiselle Wagner £50 sterling for each representation extra. —-Seventh, Mr. Lumley engages to pay Mademoiselle Wagner a salary of £400 sterling per month, and payment will take place in such manner that she will receive £100 sterling each week.—Eighth, Mr. Lumley will pay, by letters of exchange, to Mademoiselle Wagner at Berlin, the 15th of March 1852, the sum of £300 sterling, a sum which will be deducted from her engagement in his [606] retaining £100 each month.—Ninth, In all cases except that where a verified illness would place upon her a hindrance, if Mademoiselle Wagner shall not arrive in London eight days after that from whence dates her engagement, Mr. Lumley will have the right to regard the non-appearance as a rupture of the contract, and will be able to demand an indemnification.— Tenth, In the case where Mr. Lumley should cede his enterprise to another, he has the right to transfer this contract to his successor, and in that case Mademoiselle Wagner has the same obligations and the same rights towards the last as towards Mr. Lumley.


"Berlin, the 9th November 1851."


The bill then stated that in November 1851 Joseph Bacher met the Plaintiff in Paris, when the Plaintiff objected to the agreement as not containing an usual and necessary clause, preventing the Defendant Johanna Wagner from exercising her professional abilities in England without the consent of the Plaintiff, whereupon Joseph Bacher, as the agent of the Defendants Johanna Wagner and Albert Wagner, and being fully authorized by them for the purpose, added an article in writing in the French language to the agreement, and which, being translated into English, was as follows:—


"Mademoiselle Wagner engages herself not to use her talents at any other theatre, nor in any concert or reunion, public or private, without the written authorization of Mr. Lumley.

"For Mademoiselle Johanna Wagner,
and authorized by her."


The bill then stated that J. and A. Wagner subsequently made another engagement with the [607] Defendant F. Gye, by which it was agreed that the Defendant J. Wagner should, for a larger sum than that stipulated by the agreement with the Plaintiff, sing at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, and abandon the agreement with the Plaintiff. The bill then stated that the Defendant F. Gye had full knowledge of the previous agreement with the Plaintiff, and that the Plaintiff had received a protest from the Defendants J. and A. Wagner, repudiating the agreement on the allegation that the Plaintiff had failed to fulfil the pecuniary portion of the agreement.


The bill prayed that the Defendants Johanna Wagner and Albert Wagner might restrained from violating or committing any breach of the last article of the agreement; that the Defendant Johanna Wagner might be restrained from singing and performing or singing at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, or at any other theatre or place without the sanction or permission in writing of the Plaintiff during the existence of the agreement with the Plaintiff; and that the Defendant Albert 'Wagner might be restrained from permitting or sanctioning the Defendant Johanna "Wagner singing and performing or singing as aforesaid; that the Defendant Frederick Gye might be restrained from accepting the professional services of the Defendant Johanna Wagner as a singer and performer or singer at the said Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, or at any other theatre or place, and from permitting her to sing and perform or to sing at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, during the existence of the agreement with the Plaintiff, without the permission or sanction of the Plaintiff.


The answer of the Defendants A. and J. Wagner attempted to show that Joseph Bacher was not their authorized agent, at least for the purpose of adding the restrictive clause, and that the Plaintiff had failed to make the stipu-[608]-lated payment by the time mentioned in the agreement. The Plaintiff having obtained an injunction from the Vice-Chancellor, Sir James Parker, on the 9th May 1852, the Defendants now moved by way of appeal before the Vice-Chancellor (1) to discharge His Honour's order.


Mr. Bethell, Mr. Malins and Mr. Martindale, in support of the appeal motion. We submit that the agreement in the present case being one of which the Court cannot decree specific performance, the jurisdiction by injunction does not attach. The Vice-Chancellor has rested his decision mainly on the authority of Dietrichsen v. Cabburn (2 Phil. 52), but there the decision was founded on the special circumstances of the case tending to establish a partnership, which clearly does not exist here, nor does it warrant such an extension of the principle as has been assumed to be there established ; this is shewn by the observations of Lord Cottenham himself in the subsequent case of Heathcote v. The North Staffordshire Railway Company (2 Mac. & G. 100). In that case, on dissolving an injunction which had been granted by the Vice-Chancellor of England, restraining the company from applying to Parliament for powers to relieve them from the performance of their contract, his Lordship said, "The covenant is a mere legal contract which the Act asked for may prevent the Defendant from performing, but that is all: if A. contract with B. to deliver goods at a certain time and place, will equity interfere to prevent A. from doing anything which may or can prevent him from so delivering the goods?  If, indeed, A. had agreed to sell an estate to B. and then proposed to deal [609] with the estate so as to prevent him from performing his contract, equity would interfere; because in that case B. would, by the contract, have obtained an interest in the estate itself, which, in the case of the goods, he would not." We contend that the agreement is a purely personal contract, for the infraction of which damages are a complete and ample remedy: the agreement is, in fact, nothing more than a contract of hiring and service, and whatever the relation between the employer and employed may be, whether master or 'servant, or principal and agent, or manager and actor, this Court will, in all such cases, abstain from interfering, either directly or indirectly; Kemble v. Kean (6 Sim. 333), Kimberley v. Jennings (6 Sim. 340), Stocker• v. Brockelbank (3 Mac. & G. 250).


[THE LORD CHANOELLOR. In the case of Stocker v. Brockelbank there was no negative covenant.]


The general principle upon which we rely is, that this Court never interferes to restrain the breach of the negative part of a contract in any case where it cannot specifically enforce the performance of the positive part of the contract ; Baldwin v. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (9 Sim. 393), Hooper v. Brodrick (11 Sim. 47), Hills v. Croll (2 Phil. 60). The earlier authorities cited by the Plaintiff in the Court below, namely, Martin v. Nutkin (2 P. W. 266), Barret v. Blagrave (5 Ves. 555), Martin v. Colman (18 Ves. 437), are all distinguishable. In the case of Martin v . .Nutkin (2 P. W. 266) the ringing of the bells was restrained, because not only was there no adequate remedy at law, but the contract was one clearly falling within the ordinary jurisdiction of the Court for specific performance. The same remark applies also to the case of Barrett v. Bla-[610]-grave (5 Ves. 555), which involved the doctrine of part performance, the tenant having enjoyed the benefits of the lease. In Morris v. Colman (18 Ves. 437), the injunction was granted upon the ground of partnership, as shewn by Lord Eldon in the case of Clarke v. Price (2 Wils. 157); and, applying'the language of his Lordship in that case to the present, we say that if the agreement is one which the Court will not carry into execution (and this must be admitted) the Court cannot indirectly enforce it.


[THE LORD CHANOELLOR observed that in the case of Blakemore v. The Glamorganshire Canal Navigation (1 Myl. & K. 154) Lord Eldon had got over his scruples ; for he there granted an injunction, the effect of which was indirectly to compel the company to restore certain works to the state in which they originally stood, His. Lordship added that he had always felt some difficulty in acquiescing in the propriety of that decision.]


The utmost extent to which the Court ought to go in granting such prohibitory injunctions, when a proper case is shewn for its interference, is in the form adopted in the case of Robinson v. Lord Byron (1 Bro. C. C. 588), where the Defendant was restrained from preventing the flow of water in the usual quantities; but it is to be observed that, wherever there is a clear legal remedy, as exists in the present instance, this Court will decline to interfere in cases arising out of the doctrine of specific performance, Collins v. Plumb ( 16 Ves. 454).


[THE LORD CHANCELLOR. This Court interferes by injunction in the case of articled clerks, surgeons' apprentices, &c., who have covenanted, after they leave their masters not to practise within certain limits, although no question of specific performance is involved.]


The utmost extent to which the Court ought to go in granting such prohibitory injunctions, when a proper case is shewn for its interference, is in the form adopted in the case of Robinson v. Lord Byron (1 Bro. C. C. 588), where the Defendant was restrained from preventing the flow of water in the usual quantities; but it is to be observed that, wherever there is a clear legal remedy, as exists in the present instance, this Court will decline to interfere in cases arising out of the doctrine of specific performance, Collins v. Plumb ( 16 Ves. 454).


[THE LORD CHANCELLOR. This Court interferes by injunction in the case of articled clerks, surgeons' apprentices, &c., who have covenanted, after they leave their masters not to practise within certain limits, although no question of specific performance is involved.]


[611] Those cases, of which Swallow v. Wallingfond (12 Jur. 403) is an example, are in the nature of concluded contracts, and where the jurisdiction of this Court is only exercised with the view of effectuating the whole contract by preventing the party, who has received a valuable consideration for his covenant, from infringing that covenant. On the same principle, as well as to prevent the commission of irreparable damage, a tenant was restrained from violating a covenant he had entered into with his landlord not to burn the demised lands, Gervais v. Edwands (2 Dru. & War. 80).


Mr. Bacon and Mr. H. Clarke, contra, in support of the injunction. The prayer of the bill in the present case is not for specific performance and for an injunction as ancillary to that relief, but for an injunction simply, to prevent the violation of the negative stipulation in the Defendants' agreement. With respect to the alleged distinction in the case of Morris v. Colman (18 Ves. 437), on the ground of a partnership, that was in fact no distinction, nor did it form an element in the decision of the case, which was based solely on the existence of the negative stipulation; and the case of Clarke v. Price (2 Wils. 157), which was relied upon by the Appellants, serves clearly to illustrate this position, for in that case not only was there a prayer for specific performance, but the agreement contained no negative stipulation. The cases of Kemble v. Kean (6 Sim. 333) and Kimberley v. Jennings (6 Sim. 340) are the only two cases which are at all opposed to the uniform current of authority, which establishes the Plaintiff's right to the injunction; but it is to be observed that Sir L. Shadwell, who decided these [612] two cases, was himself the Judge who, in the subsequent case of Rolfe v. Rolfe (15 Sim 88), recognized and acted upon the distinction for which we contend, thereby virtually if not actually overruling his previous decisions. We rely upon the decision of Lord Cottenham in Dietrichsen v .. Cabburn (2 Phil. 52; see p. 58); he there says, "If the bill states a right or title in the Plaintiff to the benefit of the negative agreement of the Defendant, or of his abstaining from the contemplated act, it is not as I conceive material whether the right be at law or under an agreement which cannot be otherwise brought under the jurisdiction of a Court of Equity." On this principle the Court acts in restraining the violation of covenants in a lease, by a tenant, French v. Macale (2 Dru. & War. 269). The same doctrine was also recognised by Lord Langdale, in the case of Whittaker v. Howe (3 Beav. 383;  see p. 395), where he says :—" I do not think that this Court can refuse to grant an injunction to restrain the violation of a contract or covenant, because there may be some part of the agreement which the Court could not compel the Defendant specifically to perform." It was said that this Court would, at all events, only interfere in cases where there had been part performance, but such a construction would exclude all executory contracts. In' the present case, however, there has been a part performance, inasmuch as the Plaintiff has incurred considerable expense in preparing operas in which the Defendant J. Wagner was to sing. It was further said that the Court never interferes in cases like the present, which was alleged to be one of personal service; but in the case of articled clerks, &c., the Court has continually restrained them from practising within certain limits, in violation of their agreements.


Mr. Bethell, in reply, [613] The jurisdiction of the Court in granting injunctions may be said to be limited to four classes of cases. The first class includes those where its aid is sought to obtain preventive relief, and where, if not granted, irreparable mischief would ensue, as in the cases of nuisances and infringement of patents. The second class includes those in which the injunction is ancillary to the relief prayed, as in Whittaker v. Howe (3 Beav. 383), which being a case of partnership the injunction was auxiliary for the purpose of preserving the status quo: in the present instance, however, the injunction, so far from being in the nature of ancillary relief, prejudges the whole case. The third class of cases embraces those where the Court, being able to give direct and full relief, has restrained the breach of unilateral agreements when only one part remains to be performed, and the effect of the injunction is to afford a complete remedy, and to leave no part of the agreement unperformed: thus, for example, in the case of restraining a tenant from committing a breach of his covenant, the whole contract is directly and positively performed; and the same remark is applicable to the decision in Rolfe v. Rolfe (15 Sim. 88), where the whole of the agreement had been completed, with the exception of the part which remained to be performed by the operation of the injunction; besides the question there resulted out of a partnership transaction: Where, however, the Court by its interference cannot do the complete act which was the subject of the agreement between the parties, it has declined to interfere, Smith v. Fromont (2 Swanst. 330). In the case now under discussion, the Court is called upon to deal indirectly with part of an agreement, in which the negative portion is so involved with the positive as to be only subservient to the whole agreement. There is also a fourth class of cases, namely, bills of peace, in which the Court is in the [614] habit of granting a perpetual injunction to quiet the possession of the Plaintiff, but those are inapplicable to the present.


THE LORD CHANCELLOR. The question which I have to decide in the present case arises out of a very simple contract, the effect of which is, that the Defendant Johanna Wagner should sing at Her Majesty's Theatre for a certain number of nights, and that she should not sing elsewhere (for that is the true construction) during that period. As I understand the points taken by the Defendants' counsel in support of this appeal they in effect come to this, namely, that a Court of Equity ought not to grant an injunction except in cases connected with specific performance, or where the injunction being to compel a party to forbear from committing an act (and not to perform an act), that injunction will complete the whole of the agreement remaining unexecuted.


I have then to consider how the question stands on principle and on authority, and in so doing I shall observe upon some of the cases which have been referred to and commented upon by the Defendants in support of their contention. The first was that of Martin v. Nutkin (2 P. W. 266), in which the Court issued an injunction restraining an act from being done where it clearly could not have granted any specific performance; but then it was said that that case fell within one of the exceptions which the Defendants admit are proper cases for the interference of the Court, because there the ringing of the bells, sought to be restrained, had been agreed to be suspended by the Defendant in consideration of the erection by the Plaintiffs of a cupola and clock, the agreement being in effect the price stipulated for the Defendant's relinquishing bell-ringing at stated periods; the Defendant having accepted the [615] benefit, but rejected the corresponding obligation, Lord Macclesfield first granted the injunction which the Lords Commissioners, at the hearing of the cause, continued for the lives of the Plaintiffs. That case therefore, however it may be explained as one of the exceptional cases, is nevertheless a clear authority shewing that this Court has granted an injunction prohibiting the commission of an act in respect of which the Court could never have interfered by way of specific performance.


The next case referred to was that of Barrett v. Blagrave (5 Ves. 555), which came first before Lord Loughborough, and afterwards before Lord Eldon (6 Ves. 104). There, a lease had originally been granted by the Plaintiffs, the proprietors of Vauxhall Gardens, of an adjoining house, under an express covenant that the lessee would not carryon the trade of a victualler or retailer of wines, or generally any employment that would be to the damage of the proprietors of Vauxhall Gardens ; an underlease having been made to the Defendants, who were violating the covenant by the sale of liquors, the proprietors of Vauxhall Gardens filed a bill for an injunction, which was granted by Lord Loughborough. It has been observed in the argument here, that in granting the injunction Lord Loughborough said :—" It is in the nature of specific performance," and that, therefore, that case also falls under one of the exceptional cases. When that case came before Lord Eldon, he dissolved the injunction, but upon a different ground, namely, on that of acquiescence for many years, and in a sense he treated it as a case of specific performance. As far as the words go, the observations of those two eminent Judges would seem to justify the argument which has been addressed to me; in effect, however, it was only specific performance, because a prohibition, pre-[616]-venting the commission of an act may as effectually perform an agreement as an order for the performance of the act agreed to be done. The agreement in that case being, that the house should not be opened for the purposes of entertainment to the detriment of Vauxhall Gardens, the Court granted the injunction; that was the performance of the agreement in substance, and the term “ specific performance" is aptly applied in such a case, but not in the sense in which it has been used before me.


It was also contended that the Plaintiff's remedy, if any, was at law; but it is no objection to the exercise of the jurisdiction by injunction that the Plaintiff may have a legal remedy. The case of Robinson v. Lord Byron (I Bro. C. C. 588), before Lord Thurlow, so very often commented upon by succeeding Judges, is a clear illustration of that proposition, because in that case the Defendant, Lord Byron, who had large pieces of water in his park which supplied the Plaintiff's mills, was abusing his right by preventing a regular supply to the Plaintiff's mill, and, although the Plaintiff had a remedy at law, yet this Court felt no difficulty in restraining Lord Byron by injunction from preventing the regular flow of the water. Undoubtedly, there are cases such as that cited for the Defendants, of Collins v. Plumb (16 Ves. 454), before Lord Eldon, in which this Court has declined to exercise the power (which in that instance it was assumed to have had) of preventing the commission of an Act, because such power could not be properly and beneficially exercised. In that case the negative covenant, not to sell water to the prejudice of the Plaintiffs, was not enforced by Lord Eldon, not because he had any doubt about the jurisdiction of the Court (for upon that point he had no doubt), but because it was impossible to ascertain every time the water was supplied by the Defendants whether it was or not [617] to the damage of the Plaintiffs; but whether right or wrong, that learned Judge, in refusing to exercise the jurisdiction on very sufficient grounds, meant in no respect to break in on the general rules deducible from the previous authorities.


At an early stage of the argument I adverted to the familiar cases of attorneys' clerks, and surgeons' and apothecaries' apprentices, and the like, in which this Court has constantly interfered, simply to prevent the violation of negative covenants; but it was said that in such cases the Court only acted on the principle that the clerk or apprentice had received all the benefit, and that the prohibition operated upon a concluded contract, and that, therefore, the injunction fell within one of the exceptional cases. I do not, however, apprehend that the jurisdiction of the Court depends upon any such principle : it is obvious that in those cases the negative covenant does not come into operation until the servitude is ended, and, therefore, that the injunction cannot be required or applied for before that period.


The familiar case of a tenant covenanting not to do a particular act was also put during the argument; but it was said that in such a case the jurisdiction springs out of the relation of landlord and tenant, and that the tenant having received the benefit of an executed lease, the injunction operates only so as to give effect to the whole contract; that, however, cannot be the principle on which this Court interferes, for, beyond all doubt, where a lease is executed containing affirmative and negative covenants, this Court will not attempt to enforce the execution of the affirmative covenants either on the part of the landlord or the tenant, but will leave it entirely to a Court of law to measure the damages ; though with respect to the negative covenants, if the tenant, for example, has sti-[618]-pulated not to cut or lop timber, or any other given act of forbearance, the Court does not ask how many of the affirmative covenants on either side remain to be performed under the lease, but acts. at once by giving effect to the negative covenant, specifically executing it by prohibiting the commission of acts which have been stipulated not to be done. So far, then, each of the cases to which I have referred appears to me to be in direct contravention of the rules which have been so elaborately pressed upon me by the Defendants' counsel.


The present is a mixed case, consisting not of two correlative acts to be done—one by the Plaintiff, and the other by the Defendants, which state of facts may have and in some cases has introduced a very important difference—but of an act to be done by J. Wagner alone, to which is superadded a negative stipulation on her part to abstain from the commission of any act which will break in upon her affirmative covenant ; the one being ancillary to, concurrent and operating together with, the, other. The agreement to sing for the Plaintiff during three months at his theatre, and during that time not to sing for anybody else, is not a correlative contract, it is. in effect one contract; and though beyond all doubt this Court could not interfere. to enforce the specific performance of the whole of this contract, yet in all sound. construction, and according to the true spirit of the agreement, the engagement to perform for three months at one theatre must necessarily exclude the right to perform at the same time at another theatre. It was clearly intended that J. Wagner was to exert her vocal abilities to the utmost to aid the theatre to which she agreed to attach herself. I am of opinion that if she had attempted, even in the absence of any negative stipulation, to perform at another theatre, she would have broken the spirit and [619] true meaning of the contract as much as she would now do with reference to the contract into which she has actually entered.


Wherever this Court has not proper jurisdiction to enforce specific performance, it operates to bind men's consciences, as far as they can be bound, to a true and literal performance of their agreements ; and it will not suffer them to depart from their contracts at their pleasure, leaving the party with whom they have contracted to the mere chance of any damages which a jury may give. The exercise of this: jurisdiction has, I believe, had a wholesome tendency towards the maintenance of that good faith which exists in this country to a much greater degree perhaps than in any other; and although the jurisdiction is not to be extended, yet a Judge would desert his duty who did not act up to what his predecessors have handed down as the rule for his guidance in the administration of such an equity.


It was objected that the operation of the injunction in the present case was mischievous, excluding the Defendant J. Wagner from performing at any other theatre while this Court had no power to compel her to perform at Her Majesty's Theatre .. It is true that I have not the means of compelling her to sing, but she has no cause of complaint if I compel her to abstain from the commission of an act which she has, bound herself not to do, and thus possibly cause her to fulfill her engagement. The jurisdiction which I now exercise is wholly within the power of the Court, and being of opinion that it is a proper case for interfering, I shall leave nothing unsatisfied by the judgment I pronounce. The effect, too, of the injunction in restraining J. Wagner from singing elsewhere may, in the event of an action being brought against. her by the Plaintiff, prevent any such amount of vindictive damages being given against her as a jury might probably be [620] inclined to give if she had carried her talents and exercised them at the rival theatre: the injunction may also; as I have. said, tend to the fulfillment of her engagement; though, in continuing the injunction, I disclaim doing indirectly what I cannot do directly.


Referring again to the authorities, I am well aware that they have not been uniform, and that there undoubtedly has been a difference of decision on the question now revived before me; but, after the best consideration which I have been enabled to give to the subject, the conclusion at which I have arrived is, I conceive, supported by the greatest weight of authority. The earliest case most directly bearing on the point is that Morris v. Colman (18 Ves. 437): there Mr. Colman was a part proprietor with Mr. Morris of the Haymarket Theatre, and they were partners in that concern, and by the deed of partnership Mr. Colman agreed that he would not exercise his dramatic abilities for any other theatre than the Haymarket; he did not, however, covenant that he would write for the Haymarket, but it was merely a negative Covenant that he would not write for any other theatre than the Haymarket. Lord Eldon granted an injunction against Mr. Colman writing for any other theatre than the Haymarket; and the ground on which Lord Eldon assumed that jurisdiction was the subject of some discussion at the Bar. It was truly said for the Defendants that that was a case of partnership; and it was said, moreover, that Lord Cottenham was mistaken in the case of Dickersen v. Cabburn (2 Phil. 52), when he said that Lord Eldon had not decided Morris v. Colman on the ground of there being a partnership. I agree that the observations which fell from Lord Eldon in the subsequent case of Clarke v. Price (2 Wils. 157) shew that he did mainly decide it on the ground of partnership; [621] but he did not decide it exclusively on that ground. In the argument of Morris v. Colman (18 Ves. 437) Sir Samuel Romily suggested a case almost identical with the present: he contended that the clause restraining Mr. Colman from writing for any other theatre was no more against public policy than a stipulation that Mr. Garrick should not perform at any other theatre than that at which he was engaged would have been. Lord Eldon, adverting in his judgment to the case put at the Bar, said—" If Mr. Garrick was now living would it be unreasonable that he should contract with Mr. Colman to perform only at the Haymarket Theatre, and Mr. Colman with him to write for the theatre alone? Why should they not thus engage for the talents of each other ? " He gives the clearest enunciation of his opinion that that would be an agreement which this Court would enforce by way of injunction.


The late Vice-Chancellor Shadwell, of whom I always wish to be understood to speak with the greatest respect, decided in a different way in the cases of Kemble v. Kean (6 Sim. 333) and Kimberley v. Jennings (6 Sim. 340), on which I shall presently make a few observations. In the former case he observed that Lord Eldon must be understood, in the case of Morris v. Colman (18 Ves. 437), to have spoken according to the subject-matter before him, and must there be considered to be addressing himself to a case in which Colman and Garrick would both have bad a partnership interest in the theatre. I must however, entirely dissent from that interpretation. Lord Eldon's words are perfectly plain, they want no comment upon them, they speak for themselves. He was alluding to a case in which Garrick, as a performer, would have had nothing to do with the theatre beyond the implied engagement that he would not perform anywhere else; and I have [622] come to a very clear conclusion that Lord Eldon would have granted the injunction in that case although there had been no partnership.


The authority of Clarke v. Price (2 Wils. 157) was much pressed upon me by the learned counsel for the Defendants; but that is a case which does not properly belong to their argument, because there there was no negative stipulation, and I quite admit that this Court cannot enforce the performance of such an affirmative stipulation as is to be found in that case; there the Defendant having agreed to take notes of cases in the Court of Exchequer, and compose reports for the Plaintiff, and having failed to do so, the Plaintiff, Mr. Clarke, filed a bill for an injunction, and Lord Eldon, when refusing the injunction, in effect, said, I cannot compel Mr. Price to sit in the Court of Exchequer and take notes and compose reports; and the whole of his judgment shews that he proceeded (and so it has been considered in later cases) on the ground that there was no covenant, on the part of the Defendant, that he would not compose reports for any other person. The expressions in the judgment are :—" I cannot, as in the other case" (referring to Morris v. Colman (18 Ves. 437)), " say that I will induce him to write for the Plaintiff by preventing him from writing for any other person;" and then come these important words" for that is not the nature of the agreement." Lord Eldon, therefore, was of opinion, upon the construction of that agreement, that it would be against its meaning to affix to it a negative quality and import a covenant into it by implication, and he, therefore, very properly, as I conceive, refused that injunction; that case, therefore, in no respect touches the question now before me, and I may at once declare that if I had only to deal with the affirmative covenant of the Defendant J. Wagner that she would perform at Her Majesty's Theatre, I should not have granted any injunction.


[623] Thus far, I think, the authorities are very strong against the Defendants' contention ; but the case of Kemble v. Kean (6 Sim. 333), to which I have already alluded, is the first case which has in point of fact introduced all the difficulties on this part of the law. There Mr. Kean entered into an agreement precisely similar to the present: he agreed that he would perform for Mr. Kemble at Drury Lane, and that he would not perform anywhere else during the time that he had stipulated to perform for Mr. Kemble. Mr. Kean broke his engagement, a bill was filed, and the Vice-Chancellor Shadwell was of opinion that he could not grant an injunction to restrain Mr. Kean from performing elsewhere, which he was either about to do or actually doing, because the Court could not enforce the performance of the affirmative covenant that he would perform at Drury Lane for Mr. Kemble. Being pressed by that passage which I have read from in the Lord Chancellor's judgment in Morris v. Colman (18 Ves. 437), he put that paraphrase or commentary upon it which I have referred to :  that is, he says: "Lord Eldon is speaking of a case where the parties are in partnership together." I have come to a different conclusion : and I am bound to say that, in my apprehension, the case of Kemble v. Kean was wrongly decided and cannot be maintained.


The same learned Judge followed up his decision in that case in the subsequent one of Kimberly v. Jennings (6 Sim. 340) ; that was a case of hiring and service, and the Vice-Chancellor there virtually admitted that a negative covenant might be enforced in this Court, and quoted an instance to that effect within his own knowledge. He said: "I remember a case in which a nephew wished to go on the stage, and his uncle gave him a large sum of money in consideration of his covenanting not to [624] perform within a particular district ; the Court would execute such a covenant, on the ground that a valuable consideration had been given for it." He admits, therefore, the jurisdiction of the Court, if nothing but that covenant remained to be executed. The learned Judge, however, adds, "but here the negative covenant does not stand by itself: it is coupled with the agreement for service for a certain number of years, and then for taking the Defendant into partnership: . . . this agreement cannot be performed in the whole, and, therefore, this Court cannot perform any part of it." Whatever may have been the mutual obligations in that case, which prevented the Court from giving effect to the negative covenant, I am not embarrassed with any such difficulties here, because, as I have already shewn, both the covenants are on the part of the Defendants.


The case of Hooper v. Brodrick (11 Sim. 47) was cited, as an instance in which the Court had refused an injunction under circumstances like the present; but, in that case, the lessee of an inn had covenanted to use and keep it open as an inn during a certain time, and not to do any act whereby the licence might become forfeited. In point of fact, the application was that he might be compelled to keep it open, and the Vice-Chancellor makes this observation: "The Court ought not to have restrained the Defendant from discontinuing to use and keep open the demised premises as an inn, which is the same in effect as ordering him to carryon the business of an innkeeper; but it might have restrained him from doing, or causing or permitting to be done, any act which would have put it out of his power, or the power of any other person, to carryon that business on the premises. It is not, however, shewn that the Defendant has threatened, or intends to do, or to cause or permit to be done, any act whereby the [625] licences may become forfeited or be refused; and, therefore, the injunction must be dissolved." That, therefore, is an authority directly against the Defendants, because it shews that if there had been an intention to break the negative covenant, this Court would have granted the injunction.


The case of Smith v. Fromont (2 Swanst. 330) was also relied upon by the Defendants, as an instance where the injunction had been refused, but there there was no negative covenant; it was an attempt to restrain, by injunction, a man from supplying horses to a coach for a part of a road, when the party who was applying for the injunction was himself incapable of performing his obligation to horse his part of the road. Lord Eldon, in refusing the injunction and deprecating the interference of the Court in such cases, there said: "The only instance I recollect of an application to this Court to restrain the driving of coaches occurred in the case of a person who, having sold the business of a coach proprietor from Reading to London, and undertaking to drive no coach on that road, afterwards established one. 'With some doubt, whether I was not degrading the dignity of this Court by interfering, I saw my way in that case; because one party had there covenanted absolutely against interfering with the business which he had sold to the other." That again is a direct authority, therefore, against the Defendants, as Lord Eldon expressly says he had interfered in the case of a negative covenant, although he could not interfere on that, occasion because there was no such covenant.


Some observations have been made upon a decision of my own in Ireland, in the, case of Gevais v. Edwarcls (2 Dru. & War. 80); [626] that decision I believe to be, right, but it is quoted to shew that I was of opinion that this Court cannot interfere to enforce specific performance, unless it can execute the whole of an agreement. I abide by the opinion I there expressed, and I mean to do nothing in this case which shall in any manner interfere with that opinion. That was properly a case for specific performance, but from the nature of the contract itself there was a portion of it which could not be executed. I said, in effect: I cannot execute this contract which is intended to be binding on both parties; I cannot execute a portion of this contract for one, and leave the other portion of the contract unexecuted for the other; and, therefore, as I cannot execute the whole of the contract, I am bound to execute no part of it: that, however, has no bearing on the present case, for here I leave nothing unperformed which the Court can ever be called upon to perform.


In Hills v. Croll (2 Phil. 60), Lord Lyndhurst refused to enforce an injunction to restrain the violation of a negative covenant. It was a case in which A. had given to B. a sum of money, and B. covenanted that he would buy all the acids he wanted from the manufactory of A., who covenanted that he would supply the acids, and B. also covenanted that he would buy his acids from no other person. Lord Lyndhurst refused to prohibit B. from obtaining acids from any other quarter, both because the covenants were correlative, and because he could not compel A. to supply B. with acids; and if, therefore, he had restrained B. from taking acids from any other quarter, he might have ruined him in the event of A. breaking his affirmative covenant to supply the acids. That case has never been rightly understood. [627] It is supposed that Lord Lyndhurst's decision was based upon a. wrong principle; that he followed the authority of Gervais v. Edwards and such cases, and that he improperly applied the' rule which was in that class of cases properly applied, but under the circumstances of the case before him, I think the rule was not improperly applied.(2)


[628] The next case which has been so much observed upon was that before Lord Cottenham, of Dietrichsen v. Gabburn (2 Phil. 52). That was a very simple case, and the [629] question upon what principle it was decided formed the subject of discussion before me. A man, in order to obtain a great circulation of his patent medicine, entered [630] into a contract with a vendor of such articles, giving him a general agency for the sale of the medicine, with 40 per cent discount, and stipulating that he would not supply anybody else at a larger discount than 25 per cent. ; he violated his contract, and was proceeding to employ other agents with a larger discount than 25 per cent ; an injunction was applied for and was granted: it was. said that it was properly granted, because it was a case of partnership. This, however, was not the fact; it was not a case of partnership, but was strictly one of principal and agent; and it was only because there was the negative covenant that the Court gave effect to it. It is impossible to read Lord Cottenham's judgment, without being satisfied that he did not consider it to be a part-[631]-nership, though he said it was in the nature of a partnership; and in a popular sense it might. be so called, because the parties were there both dealing with respect to the same subject, from which each was to have a benefit, but in no legal sense was it a partnership.


Up to the period when Dietrichsen v. Cabburn (2 Phil. 52) was decided, I apprehend that there could have been no doubt on the law as applicable to this case, except for the authority of Vice-Chancellor Shadwell; but with great submission it appears to me that the whole of that learned Judge's authority is removed by himself by his decision in the later case of Rolfe v. Rolfe (15 Sim. 88). In that case A. B. and C. were partners as tailors. A. and B. went out of the trade on consideration of receiving £1000 each, and C. was to continue the business on his own account. A. entered into a covenant that he would not carryon the trade of a tailor which he had just sold, within certain limits, and C. entered into a covenant that he would employ A . as cutter at a certain allowance. The bill was filed simply for an injunction to prevent A. from setting up as a tailor within the prescribed limits, and the Vice-Chancellor granted that injunction. It was objected that this Court could not grant the injunction when there was something remaining to be performed, for that A. had a right to be employed as a cutter, which right this Court would not even attempt to deal with or enforce as against C. That case, therefore, was open to a difficulty which does not occur here; in fact, the same difficulty which might have arisen in Hills v. Croll (2 Phil. 60) before Lord Lyndhurst. But the Vice-Chancellor held that to be no difficulty at all; observing that the bill simply asked for an injunction which he would grant; although he could not give effect to the [632] affirmative covenant to do the act in respect of which no specific performance was asked: his own decisions in Kemble v Kean (6 Sim. 333), and in Kimberley v. Jennings (6 Sim. 340), were pressed upon him; but he observed "that the bills in the cases cited asked for specific performance of the agreement, and that the injunctions were sought as only ancillary to that relief ; but the bill in the present case asked merely for an injunction." He no longer put it on the inability of the Court to enforce a negative covenant, but he put it on the form of the pleadings. Whether that form was sufficient to justify his opinion is a question with which I need not deal; but I am very clearly of opinion that the case of Rolfe v. Rolfe (15 Sim. 88) does remove the whole weight of that learned Judge's authority on this subject.


It was said in argument that the injunction prayed in Rolfe v. Rolfe (15 Sim. 88) was merely ancillary to the relief; but it will be seen that that was not so, and that the prayer extended only to the injunction, and had nothing to do with relief in the shape of specific performance; and the learned Judge himself stated that, if it had gone to that extent, he, following his former decisions, would not have granted the injunction.


From a careful examination of all these authorities I am of opinion that the principles and rules deducible from them are in direct contravention of those principles and rules which were so elaborately pressed upon me during the argument; and I wish it to be distinctly understood that I entertain no doubt whatever that the point of law has been properly decided in the Court below. It was, nevertheless, and with some reason, said that although the point of law should be decided in the [633] Plaintiff's favour, still he might be excluded from having the benefit of it on the merits of the case.


His Lordship here entered into a minute examination of the statements in the answers and affidavits as to the unauthorized addition of the restrictive clause, and as to the non-fulfillment by the Plaintiff of his portion of the agreement. In reference to those points he observed that, whether the clause was originally added with or without authority, the evidence shewed a clear acquiescence on the part of the Defendants to its remaining in the agreement ; that the operation of the agreement had been in the first instance postponed to suit the convenience of the Defendants; and that as to the payment of the £300, although the Plaintiff could not have come into a Court of Equity to enforce the contract without having tendered the amount stipulated to be paid, yet it was distinctly proved that it had in fact been paid to the common agent of both parties for the purpose of being handed to the Defendants. His Lordship concluded by saying that, looking at the merits and circumstances of the case, as well as at the point of law raised, he must refuse this motion, with costs. In the course of the argument, and in order to prove the Plaintiff's readiness to perform his part of the contract, an affidavit made by Dr. Bacher was read, which was to the effect that he had written and sent a letter to the Defendant J. Wagner, informing her of his having received from the Plaintiff the £300, and offering to pay that sum according to her instructions. A letter of the same date as that referred to in the affidavit was admitted to have been received by the Defendant J. Wag-[634]ner, but it was positively denied that it contained any such offer. The letter itself was not forthcoming, and its non-production was not accounted for. No copy was kept by Dr. Bacher.


THE LORD CHANCELLOR observed that, when the affidavit, as to the contents of the letter, was made, Dr. Bacher could not have known that the letter would not be produced; that the affidavit, therefore, if untrue, was at the imminent peril of exposure by the production of the letter; and that under such circumstances the representation in the affidavit must be taken to be true.




[1] The case was heard by the Lord Chancellor on a representation that it was intended to confine the argument to the legal :question alone, which, it was said, involved an important point of equity jurisdiction, on which the authorities were conflicting.


[2] The following, containing all the material portions of Lord Lyndhurst's judgment in Hills y. Croll, is taken from the shorthand writer's notes, and has been kindly furnished to the reporters by one of the counsel who was engaged in that cause, and by whom a very full report of the case will be found published in "Reports of Cases in the Law of Real Property and Conveyancing," Vol. i. p. 541 :—


" THE LORD CHANCELLOR. In this case of Hills v. Croll, Croll had obtained two patents for the purpose of purifying gas, and the result of the purification of gas was the manufacture of muriate of ammonia and sulphate of ammonia. He entered into a contract with Hills, who is the Plaintiff in this suit, and the contract was to this effect: Mr. Croll was to purchase all the acids that he was to use in his process, under his patent, from Mr. Hills: Mr. Hills, on his side, was to have the right of purchasing all the ammonia that should be produced as the result of those processes, at certain prices as to the one and as to the other. In addition to this, there was a. stipulation that, in all the licences that were granted for using those patents, the parties to whom those licences were to be granted should be bound to purchase all the acids which were used in the processes from Mr. Hills, and that Mr. Hills should have the same option that he had in the case of Croll, of purchasing from them all the ammonia that should be produced in the course of the processes. It was also stipulated that Mr. Hills should have the option to supply either muriatic acid or sulphuric acid, as he should think proper, regulating his option by the market prices of the muriate of ammonia and the sulphate of ammonia. I think this is the substance of the original agreement between these parties. The agreement was entered into in the month of March 1841. It was found, on the part of Mr. Croll, that the mode of payment and other arrangements, with respect to this agreement, were inconvenient, in consequence of which a correspondence takes place between him and Mr. Hills, in the month of September 1842, and the agreement was modified according to the terms of a letter, dated, I think, in September, written by him. One of the stipulations in the original agreement was, that Mr. Hills should be a signing party in all the licences that were granted by Mr. Croll for the use of the patent. The first stipulation, in the letter of September, was that he should not be required to be a signing party; but it provided that there should be a covenant in all those agreements, a covenant to the effect stated in the original agreement, namely, that the parties to whom the licences were granted should purchase their acids from Hills, and give Hills the right to purchase the ammonia. Regulations were also made altering the terms on which the acids were to be purchased and the ammonia to be sold. There were some other subordinate stipulations to which it is not necessary at present to advert. The letter, however, concluded with a stipulation to this effect, that if Mr. Croll was in any particular to depart from the agreement so modified, the original agreement was to be enforced, I think those two documents, the original agreement and the letter, formed the substance of the contract between the parties as it existed after September 1842.

"Some doubt was expressed as to whether or not the contract so modified has been acted upon in that shape. It appears beyond all doubt that it was so acted upon, because the accounts were, from time to time, rendered on the 'footing of the Modified agreement, and it is also clear from the letter of Mr. Hills of the 8th of December, in which he refers expressly to the prices that were regulated by the letter of September 1842."


His Lordship here referred to another question raised in the course of the discussion, namely, whether the second or modified agreement had been put an end to by the operation of the clause providing for the enforcement of the first or original agreement; and, after remarking that it was unnecessary for him, for the purpose of the present question, to come to any conclusive decision on that point, proceeded as follows :—


"Those are the facts of the case for the purpose of raising the narrow question, as it appears to me, which the Court has to decide. The bill was filed for the purpose of calling on' the Court to declare that that agreement should be specifically performed.

"Now, there is no principle of the Court which I understand to be more dearly established than this, that the Court will not decree an agreement to be specifically performed, unless it can execute the whole of the agreement. The question, therefore, in this case will be whether the Court has power, from the nature of this agreement, to execute the whole of it, every part of it. Part of the prayer which is consequent upon a specific performance is, that' the Defendant should be restrained from purchasing acids from anybody but Mr. Hills, and also, that he should be restrained from granting licences, except according to the agreement that was in force between the parties.

"Now, then, with respect to the first of these points, there is a stipulation on the part of Hills that he will supply the acids; there is a stipulation on the part of Mr. Croll that he will purchase acids from Hills, and from no other person. Has the Court any power whatever to compel Mr. Hills to comply with that? Can the Court order Mr. Hills to continue the manufacture of acids for the purpose of supplying Mr. Croll? Can the Court call upon him, if he should not manufacture acids, and require him to purchase acids for the purpose of supplying Mr. Cron ? It is clear, I apprehend, that the Court has no such power. There are cases in which the Court, will do indirectly what it cannot do directly. A case commonly cited for that purpose is the case of a nuisance. The Court would not compel a party who had erected a wall to the nuisance of another–would not compel the party by any direct order to pull down that wall; but the Court can make an order requiring him not to continue the nuisance, which would have the effect of compelling him to pull down the wall. In the case of Morris v. Colman, the Court restrained Mr. Colman from writing for any other theatre, inferring from that that the order would compel Mr. Colman, or have the tendency to compel Mr. Colman, to write for the Haymarket Theatre; but in this case the Court has no power to compel Mr. Hills to supply acids by ordering him not to supply acids to any other person; that is not the agreement, nor was it ever intended that it should be the agreement. Therefore, unless the Court can compel him, by a direct order, to supply Mr. Croll, from time to time, with the acids that Mr. Croll requires, it is quite clear that this Court cannot execute all the parts of this contract; the Court cannot, therefore, compel the party specifically to perform the contract.

"It was thrown out, in the course of the argument, that this Court might compel one party to perform his part of the contract, and leave the other party to his remedy at law. No such principle has ever been acted on in this Court; it has been so laid down over and over again, and in a recent case that was cited at the Bar (Gervais v. Edwards, 2 Dru. & War. 80), Sir Edward Sugden held that, unless this Court can execute every part of the contract, this Court will not compel a specific performance, of a part. When 'this cause, therefore, comes to a hearing, I am of opinion that, according to the facts as they at present stand, and according to the statement of the principle I have mentioned, this Court cannot restrain Mr. Croll from purchasing acids elsewhere, because it cannot compel Mr. Hills, on his side, to furnish all the acids that may be necessary for the manufacture carried on by Mr. Croll. If the Court cannot do this, it cannot restrain the parties at the hearing. It is quite clear that, upon this interlocutory application, the Court cannot restrain Mr. Croll from purchasing acids elsewhere. I apprehend, therefore, that the decision of the Vice-Chancellor, which proceeded on the principle I have stated, and rightly, on the grounds I have stated, and which I believe is the principle of this Court, and the principle on which the Vice-Chancellor acted as to that part of the case, is correct ; and equally applies, as it appears to me it does, to that part of the notice of motion with respect to the licences, because that forms a part of the contract, the generaI contract. If the Court cannot execute the whole of the contract, it cannot execute the contract in part; therefore I am of opinion that, in this case, the motion must be refused, and refused with costs."


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