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Tool Metal Manufacturing Company Limited Vs. Tungsten Electric Company Limited - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtHouse of Lords
Decided On
Case NumberNo.
Judge
AppellantTool Metal Manufacturing Company Limited
RespondentTungsten Electric Company Limited
Excerpt:
upon report from the appellate committee, to whom was referred the cause tool metal manufacturing company limited against tungsten electric company limited, that the committee had heard counsel, as well on wednesday the 20th, thursday the 21st, monday the 25th, tuesday the 26th, wednesday the 27th and thursday the 28th days of april last, as on monday the 2nd and tuesday the 3d, days of may last, upon the petition and appeal of tool metal manufacturing company limited, of 3 the sanctuary, westminster, in the county of london, praying, that the matter of the order set forth in the schedule thereto, namely, an order of her majesty's court of appeal of the 29th of march 1954, might be reviewed before her majesty the queen, in her court of parliament, and that the said order might be.....
Judgment:

Upon Report from the Appellate Committee, to whom was referred the Cause Tool Metal Manufacturing Company Limited against Tungsten Electric Company Limited, that the Committee had heard Counsel, as well on Wednesday the 20th, Thursday the 21st, Monday the 25th, Tuesday the 26th, Wednesday the 27th and Thursday the 28th days of April last, as on Monday the 2nd and Tuesday the 3d, days of May last, upon the Petition and Appeal of Tool Metal Manufacturing Company Limited, of 3 The Sanctuary, Westminster, in the County of London, praying, That the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 29th of March 1954, might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Order might be reversed, varied or altered, or that the Petitioners might have such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the printed Case of Tungsten Electric Company Limited, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen assembled, That the said Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal, of the 29th day of March 1954. complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same is hereby. Reversed, and that the Judgment of the Honourable Mr. Justice Pearson of the 16th day of November 1953, be, and the same is hereby Restored: And it is further Ordered, That the Respondents  o pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Appellants the costs incurred by them in the Court of Appeal, and also the costs incurred by them in respect of the said Appeal to this House, the amount of such last mentioned costs to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered that the Cause be, and the same is hereby, remitted back to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, to do therein as shall be just and consistent with this Judgment.

Viscount Simonds

My Lords,

The facts in this complicated case are fully stated in the speech of my noble and learned friend, Lord Cohen, which I have had the privilege of reading, and I do not think it necessary to trouble your Lordships by referring, except incidentally, to the events which preceded the issue of the writ in the action in which this appeal is brought.

It was in the circumstances stated by my noble friend that the Appellants, by writ issued on the 11th September, 1950, claimed from the Respondents as compensation under clause 5 of the Deed as from the 1st January, 1947, to the 26th January, 1950, a quantified sum of £84,050, and an account of compensation payable under the same clause from the 26th January, 1950, to the 27th July, 1950, when the licence terminated.

To this claim the Respondents put in a number of defences. They pleaded that the provisions of clause 5 were void on three separate grounds: (a) because they imposed a penalty; (b) because they were an unreasonable restraint of trade; and (c) because they contravened section 38 of the Patents and Designs Act, 1938. They also pleaded that the delivery of the counter-claim in the first action did not operate as notice to terminate the equitable arrangement which, as was held in that action, existed at any rate until such delivery and that it was a condition of its termination that the notice determining it (a) should be unequivocal and (b) should specify the date of termination, and further that that date should give them a reasonable time to adjust their business affairs to meet the altered circumstances. To this, in effect, the Appellants replied that the delivery of the counterclaim was a sufficient intimation of their intention to reassert their legal rights and that, that intimation having been given, equity demanded nothing more than that a reasonable time should be allowed before they sought to enforce them. And they further said (nor was this denied by the Respondents) that upon this footing a reasonable time was given since the counterclaim was delivered in March, 1946, and compensation claimed from January, 1947.

Upon this part of the case I will be as brief as I can, for, having read the Opinion of Lord Cohen in which the facts of the case are set out at greater length, I am not prepared to dissent from his conclusion. It would not, however, be right in a case in which I find myself unable to agree with the decision of the Court of Appeal to say nothing on the far-reaching conclusion to which they have come.

My Lords, the decision of the Court of Appeal in the first action was based on nothing else than the principle of equity stated in this House in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Company, 2 A.C. 439 and interpreted by Lord Justice Bowen in Birmingham and District Land Company v. London and North Western Railway Company 40 Ch.D. 268 at p. 286 in these terms:

It seems to me to amount to this, that if persons who have contractual rights against others induce by their conduct those against whom they have such rights to believe that such rights will either not be enforced or will be kept in suspense or abeyance for some particular time, those persons will not be allowed by a Court of Equity to enforce the rights until such time has elapsed, without at all events placing the parties in the same position as they were in before. These last words are important, for they emphasise that the gist of the equity lies in the fact that one party has by his conduct led the other to alter his position. I lay stress on this because I would not have it supposed, particularly in commercial transactions, that mere acts of indulgence are apt to create rights, and I do not wish to lend the authority of this House to the statement of the principle which is to be found in Combe v. Combe [1951] 2 K.B. 215 and may well be far too widely stated.

The difficulty in the present case lies in the fact that in the first action, in which it was held that between these parties the principle applies, neither of them in any pleading or other statement between the delivery of the counterclaim in March, 1946, and judgment in April, 1950, took their stand upon its existence. The Respondents asserted a binding agreement for the complete and final abrogation of any compensation: the Appellants, though willing to make some concession in regard to the past, denied any agreement in respect of any period at all. The position of neither of them was compatible with the existence of an equitable arrangement by which the right to receive and the obligation to pay compensation were suspended for a period which lasted at least until March, 1946, and for a debatable period thereafter.

My Lords, I think that at this point the issue is a very narrow one. On the one hand it is said that a plea resting on the denial of an agreement cannot be a notice determining that agreement. This is the view taken by Lord Justice Romer in which the other members of the Court of Appeal concurred. On the other hand it is urged that, since the suspensory period is due to the gratuitous willingness of the one party to forgo their rights, nothing can be a clearer intimation that they propose no longer to forgo them than a claim which, though it may ask too much, can leave the other party in no doubt that they must not expect further indulgence. The problem may perhaps be stated in this way. Did equity require that the Appellants should expressly and unequivocably refer to an equitable arrangement which the Respondents had not pleaded and they did not recognise? Or was it sufficient for them by a reassertion of their legal rights to proclaim that the period of indulgence was over? In favour of the latter view it is added that such an attitude on the part of the Appellants could not surprise the Respondents who had not hesitated to bring against them a serious charge of fraud.

My Lords, it is not clear to me what conclusion the Court of Appeal would have reached but for the authority of the case of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company v. The King [1931] A.C. 414, to which I must refer later. For my part I have, after some hesitation, formed the opinion that, as soon as the counterclaim was delivered, the Respondents must be taken to know that the suspensory period was at an end and were bound to put their house in order. The position is a very artificial one, but it was their own ignorance of a suspensory period, or at least their failure to plead it, which created the difficulty, and I do not think that they can take advantage of their own ignorance or default and say that they were entitled to a further period of grace until a further notice was given. Equity demands that all the circumstances of the case should be regarded and I think that the fair and reasonable view is that the Respondents could not, after they had received the counterclaim, regard themselves as entitled to further indulgence.

It was, however, urged on behalf of the Respondents that, even if the counterclaim could otherwise be regarded as a sufficient notice that the equitable arrangement was at an end, yet it was defective in that it did not name a certain future date at which it was to take effect. To this the reply was made that equity did not require a future date to be named in the notice, but that what it did require was that a reasonable time should be allowed to elapse before it was sought to enforce it. Here, too, the Court of Appeal favoured the view of the Respondents, again feeling themselves constrained by the decision in the Canadian Pacific Railway case. And here, too, I am forced to the opposite conclusion. Equity is not held in a strait-jacket. There is no universal rule that an equitable arrangement must always be determined in one way. It may in some cases be right and fair that a dated notice should be given. But in this case what was the position in January, 1947, which I take to be the critical date? Then for nine months the Respondents must, in my opinion, be taken to have been aware that the Appellants proposed to stand on their legal rights. It is not denied that those nine months gave them ample time to readjust their position. I cannot regard it as a requirement of equity that in such circumstances they should have been expressly notified in March of 1946 that they would have nine months and no more to take such steps as the altered circumstances required. In coming to this conclusion I do not think I run counter to any authority that was cited to us unless it be the Canadian Pacific Railway case to which I must now refer.

My Lords, in his judgment in the Court of Appeal Lord Justice Romer introduced that case with these words: In my opinion, although in many cases the equity, to which Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Company gave recognition and high authority, is satisfied by merely conforming to the terms in which Lord Cairns (and subsequently Lord Justice Bowen) formulated it, there are other cases where justice requires that the resumption of legal rights which have been suspended for a period must be preceded by a notification to the other party concerned specifying a fixed period of grace during which that party can put his house in order: and that in such cases a notification such as that will be a condition precedent to the valid re-assumption of the owner's legal rights. Such a case, the learned Lord Justice proceeds, was Canadian Pacific Railway v. The King.

My Lords, it is undoubtedly the fact that the Canadian Pacific Railway case decided that what I have called a " dated notice " was required in that case to terminate an existing licence and that the Crown, the licensor, had in that case the duty and the risk of fixing a reasonable period of notice, but I must observe that not only was the equitable principle, which was recognized in Hughes' case, not invoked, but Lord Russell of Killowen in delivering the opinion of the Board expressly disclaimed any reference to that or any other equitable principle. The relevant problem there was whether a licence to occupy land by placing telegraph poles thereon had been revoked by the institution of proceedings by the Crown, and the question was what term in regard to revocation should be implied in the licence which the Crown was assumed to have granted. I have no doubt that the question is analogous to that which we have to decide in this case, for the implication of a term as to revocation, upon which the licence is silent, must depend on what is fair and reasonable between the parties. The Court will be guided by the same principles in the one case and the other. The passage which I cited from Lord Justice Bowen's judgment in the Birminghamcase ended with these words: That is the principle to be applied. I will not say it is not a principle that was recognised by Courts of Law as well as of Equity. It is not necessary to consider how far it was always a principle of common law. Nor, my Lords, is it necessary today, but in the House of Justice it would be difficult to distinguish between the equitable principle recognized in Hughes' case and the rule well established at common law long before the fusion of law and equity that a licensor must give reasonable notice to determine a licence. It was this rule which was applied in the Canadian Pacific Railway case and, in applying it, Lord Russell of Killowen said: Whether any and what restrictions exist on the power of a licensor to determine a revocable licence must, their Lordships think, depend upon the circumstances of each case." And, as I read the decision, it was the circumstances of that case and nothing else, certainly not any general rule, which led him to say that " it will be for the Crown to determine the licence by service of a notice the sufficiency of which, if called in question, will have to be decided, upon proper evidence, in subsequent proceedings. It will be for the Crown, at its risk, to fix the length of notice. The circumstances of that case were very unusual, and I do not doubt that they fully justified the rule being applied in that way. But so also in the present case the circumstances are very unusual: it is hardly possible that they should be repeated, and even if I apply in the amplest way to the termination of the equitable arrangement between the parties in this case the rule applicable to the revocation of licence, I find nothing in the Canadian Pacific Railway case which precludes me from reaching the conclusion which I have already stated, viz. that the Appellants gave sufficient notice that the suspensory period was at an end and allowed enough time to elapse before seeking to enforce their rights. For these reasons I think that this defence fails and that the judgment of the Court of Appeal cannot on this ground be upheld.

The plea that the provisions of the deed are unenforceable because they impose a penalty clearly cannot be maintained. It is perhaps enough to say that they do not impose, or purport to impose, a penalty. No doubt the consequences of certain actions by the Respondents may be detrimental to them, but that does not involve that a penalty is imposed in the sense in which that word is used in the equitable doctrine that equity relieves against penalties. No case was cited where the doctrine was invoked otherwise than for a penalty payable upon the breach of a contractual obligation.

The further plea that the provisions of the deed are unenforceable, because they constitute an unreasonable restraint of trade, must also fail. It was conceded that as between the parties the restraint was reasonable. But it was contended that it was unreasonable in the public interest. The onus of proof here lay with the Respondents and it is a notoriously heavy burden. In my opinion, the Respondents did not discharge it and I concur so fully in the reasoning and conclusion of Lord Justice Romer that I need say no more.

My Lords, having come to the conclusion that it has not been established that clause 5 of the Deed of the 2nd April, 1938, is under the general law void as in restraint of trade, it is necessary now to consider whether it is avoided by section 38 of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907. The Patents Act of 1949 has substituted a new section for that section but it is with the earlier Act that we are here concerned. It had by 1907 become notorious that patentees were seeking by virtue of their patents to obtain a collateral advantage by imposing conditions upon licensees such as that the patented article should not be used save in conjunction with some other article produced by the patentee or that the patented article alone should be used or that the user should purchase his raw materials from the patentee: see Terrell 9th Edition p. 262 and cases there cited. And it is, I think, clear that the object of the Legislature was to put an end to this grave abuse of monopoly rights. How far it has done so must depend on the true construction of section 38 of the Act of 1907, but the background is one in which I see first the common law rejection of a monopoly, then the statutory grant under the Statute of Monopolies and the succeeding Patent Acts of limited monopolies hedged about with divers safeguards in the public interest against their abuse, then the attempt by patentees, in spite of such safeguards, to secure for themselves collateral advantages by virtue of their monopoly, and finally the attempt to check such attempts by prohibitory legislation with powerful sanctions. Lord Justice Romer in Huntoon Company v. Kolynos (Incorporated) 47 R.P.C.403 accurately stated the purport of the legislation in one aspect when he said that its language would seem to suggest that the object of the Legislature was to prevent persons who had obtained a monopoly in respect of an article or a process by means of a patent so using that monopoly as to obtain for themselves a virtual monopoly in respect of other articles and processes for which they have not obtained any patent. His statement would be equally applicable to articles which had been patented but the patents had expired. Nothing, I suppose, could be in more direct conflict with the law relating to patents than a contractual provision which indirectly secured for a patentee a monopoly extending beyond the statutory period of his patent.

I now turn to section 38, and for the sake of clarity state the first subsection, with the omission of words not relevant to the present case—

It shall not be lawful in any contract ... in relation to the ... licence to use . . . any article . . . protected by a patent to insert a condition the effect of which will be (a) to prohibit or restrict the ...licensee from using any article or class of articles, whether patented or not, supplied ... by any person . . . other than the ... licensor or his nominees; or (b)to require the ... licensee to acquire from the ... licensor, or his nominees, any article or class of articles not protected by the patent . . . I need not at the present stage refer to the provisoes to this subsection nor to the other subsections.

Upon the meaning and effect of the words that I have cited numerous questions have arisen, but the controversy has chiefly centred round the words the effect of which will be " and the words " prohibit or restrict ".

I think that it is clear that the words " the effect of which will be have a wider scope than the words " which will ", and I cannot find a more accurate way of stating the difference than by saying that the former phrase emphasizes that the result may be directly or indirectly achieved. But it is the word will which has caused the greater difficulty. It was pointed out truly enough that the word is will not may. and from this the short step was taken of saying that it must be shown by evidence that the condition necessarily will or, in other words, must have a certain effect. But, in my opinion, too much stress is laid on the use of the future tense. The subsection looks forward to the future; it opens with the words It shall not be lawful in any contract, and in describing what could only be a future condition in a future contract it was, I think, good grammar to use the words the effect of which will be. The problem is precisely the same as if the present tense had been used, or as if (leaving out the words the effect of which will be) the subsection had run condition prohibiting or restricting etc., or (giving their proper meaning to the words I have for the moment omitted) condition directly or indirectly prohibiting or restricting. It is common ground that the matter must be examined as at the date of the execution of the contract. That is a date at which the surrounding circumstances are known but the future cannot be foreseen, and nobody can predict that such and such a result will inevitably ensue. The Court then, in my opinion, in considering whether section 38 operates to avoid a condition, has the task of determining whether its essential quality is (I will not repeat directly or indirectly ) prohibitive or restrictive of a certain course of conduct. This cannot as a rule, I think, be a difficult task.

Obviously, no condition will have the effect of prohibiting or restricting me from following a certain course if I have never wanted and never shall want to follow that course. The fundamental supposition is that, if I do want to follow it, I shall be faced with the condition, and it is fair to assume that it is just because I may want to follow it, that the condition is imposed. If I find such a condition in a contract, it is, in my view, idle to speculate (as was done at great length in this case) whether and when I shall want to do a certain thing: the question is whether, when I want to do it, I shall find myself prohibited or restricted.

What, then, is the meaning of prohibit and restrict? It has been urged by the Appellants and was, I think, held by Mr. Justice Pearson that both these words cover only a direct contractual provision, e.g. the licensee will not use any hard alloys except those supplied by the licensor or the licensee will not use more than 25 per cent. of hard alloys supplied by any other supplier than the licensor, the former taken as an example of a prohibiting, the latter of a restricting, condition. And, if I understood the argument, it proceeded on the footing that prohibit meant forbid , that forbid connoted such a contractual provision as I have stated and that restrict, being found in immediate conjunction with prohibit, must be given a similar meaning. I cannot accept his argument. In the first place, it wholly ignores the words the effect of which will be. But, secondly, I see no reason in the context for so limiting the meaning of the word prohibit or, if indeed that word has a limited meaning, for saying that restrict must be similarly limited. I put to learned Counsel the hypothesis of a penalty which must in fact effectually deter the licensee from purchasing in the market and he admitted candidly that his construction required him to deny that that operated to prohibit the licensee. It appears to me that, while one meaning of prohibit is forbid, it has another meaning, which I would by no means call a secondary meaning, and that is prevent. If a modest tourist says that the prices of a certain hotel are prohibitive, he is not thinking in terms of contractual provision. The prices are so high that he is prevented from entering that hotel. It is interesting to note that he might say that the condition of his purse forbade it. I would say then that a man may be prohibited from a course of action equally by the express terms of his contract, by the law of the land, or by economic circum- stance. Nor do I see any reason for giving the word in the context of section 38 a narrower meaning than it fairly bears. True enough it is in a sense a penal provision. But I do not detract one jot from what I said in London, North Eastern Railway Company v. Berriman ([1946] A.C. 278) if I insist that, it being the plain purpose of the section to prohibit (or prevent) the licensor from using his monopoly to obtain a collateral advantage, nothing less than its fair meaning should be given to the clause. It would be a strange piece of legislation which disallowed a direct contractual provision but allowed a condition which indirectly had the same effect. It was, perhaps, in order to avoid the possibility of such a conclusion that the words the effect of which will be were introduced.

But to prohibit must be added restrict. If I am wrong in thinking that prohibition covers prevention as well by economic circumstance as by direct contractual provision, why should restrict be so limited? I see no reason for saying that it follows from an application or misapplication of the ejusdem generis rule. The argument, I think, involves that prohibit means totally prohibit and restrict means partially prohibit and in either case by means of an express contractual provision: for otherwise I do not know what meaning can, upon this footing, be given to restrict. But this would be surplusage: for it could not be maintained that a condition was not prohibitive, if it forbade the user of material supplied by outsiders to the extent of (say) 75 per cent. In truth, however, there is no valid reason in the context or otherwise for giving a limited meaning to this word. A word of command, the fear of penal consequences, or barbed wire may equally restrict my movement. I do not know why the means by which I am restricted should affect the fact that I am restricted in a real sense of that word. And I would say that in the sphere of commerce nothing could more truly restrict a trader than the fact that, wishing to purchase the goods of A rather than the goods of B, he finds that he can only do so at the cost of paying a heavy penalty to B. That is the effect which the penalty is intended to have and it will probably have it.

I do not find anything contained in the other subsections which throws any light upon the meaning of the relevant words. The proviso to sub-section (1) offers some mitigation to its stringency and subsection (4) gives cogent evidence of the importance attached by the Legislature to subsection (1). Some comment was made on the fact that the section does not preclude a condition prohibiting sale by the licensee of goods supplied by outsiders, but I do not see why this omission should lead to a narrow construction of prohibit and restrict in relation to user. There may be good reason for thinking that a selling agent may fairly be restrained by the licensor from selling the goods of an outsider. This seems to be the motive of subsection (5) (a).

After this too long exposition of the section I return to the present case and ask whether, on the 2nd April, 1938, it could fairly be said of clause 5 that it was a condition which will have the effect of prohibiting or restricting TECO from using contract material supplied by suppliers other than T.M.M.C. As I have already indicated, it must have been an idle and irrelevant speculation at that date whether at any time in the next ten years TECO would want to do so. The penal clause is inserted upon the assumption that they may or will want to do so and to meet just that eventuality. Assuming then, that the time comes when TECO wants to use contract material obtained from an outsider, will this clause have a prohibitive or restrictive effect? I do not see how it can fail to do so. The assumption is that TECO want to obtain their material from an outsider either because they can get it cheaper or because they think it better material or for some other good commercial reason. If there was no clause, they would do so. But the clause is there and at once the position is changed. They can pursue their chosen course only at the expense of a penalty which will not be borne by their own competitors in the market, and so they are compelled to buy from their licensors. I repeat that the compulsion of economic conditions is as truly prohibitive or restrictive as a direct contractual obligation. Its intention and its effect are to confine them to purchase from their licensor, when unhampered by the clause they would be free to purchase from another. That is, in my opinion, a restrictive condition which section 38 (l) of the Act avoids.

On this ground, and this ground only, I would dismiss this appeal.

Lord Oaksey

My Lords,

I have had the advantage of reading the Opinion prepared by my noble and learned friend, Lord Reid, who has not yet taken the Oath in your Lordships' House on account of his absence from the country, and as I entirely agree with his Opinion I propose to read it as my own, and to vote accordingly.

My Lords,

Krupps of Essen had been developing processes for the manufacture of hard metal alloys and in 1931 they formed the Appellant Company, whom I shall call " T.M.M.C.", to operate in Britain. T.M.M.C. owned a number of British patents and they sought to stop what they alleged to be infringements by certain British companies including the Respondents TECO who had been making hard tips for machine tools and other articles from tungsten carbide powder. After much negotiation, on 2nd April, 1938, two deeds were executed by which T.M.M.C. granted a licence to TECO to import, make, use and sell under certain conditions hard alloys made in accordance with the inventions the subjects of their patents (called contract material) and TECO agreed to pay a royalty of 10 per cent. and in addition compensation at the rate of 30 per cent. of the value of contract material sold or used by them in excess of 50 kilograms per month. This was a very heavy burden on TECO and they only agreed to it because the alternatives were either to defend an action for infringement, which would have been disastrous for them if they were unsuccessful, or to go out of business and perhaps also pay damages for past infringements. Before the war TECO paid about £16,000 to T.M.M.C. as compensation.

Shortly before the war Krupps sold their interest in T.M.M.C. to British buyers and early in the war TECO settled their liability for compensation down to the date of settlement by paying a further sum of over £3,000. Thereafter no demand for further payment of compensation was made until after the end of hostilities.

In July, 1945, TECO sued T.M.M.C. for repayment of those sums amounting in all to £19,521, alleging that the deeds of 1938 had been obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation, and they also pleaded that T.M.M.C. had agreed that no further compensation should be payable. On 26th March, 1946, T.M.M.C. lodged a defence and counterclaim denying fraud and claiming payment of royalties and also of compensation as from 1st June, 1945. The case was finally decided by the Court of Appeal on 4th April, 1950. Fraud was not proved and the counterclaim for compensation failed. In that action there was no plea or suggestion by TECO that their agreement to pay compensation was void or voidable on any other ground than fraud.

On 11th September, 1950, T.M.M.C. raised the present action claiming compensation as from 1st January, 1947, and TECO's defence was delivered on 10th November, 1950. Four defences were pleaded; first, that no notice had been given by T.M.M.C. which entitled them to demand compensation, secondly, that the clause in the 1938 agreement imposing liability to pay compensation was in restraint of trade and illegal, thirdly, that this clause provided for the imposition of a penalty which was irrecoverable at law, and fourthly, that the clause was null and void in that it offended against section 38 (1) (a)of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907. I agree with your Lordships that the first and third defences fail, and I propose only to deal with the other two.

If these defences, or either of them, are valid it is somewhat remarkable that nothing was said about them in the earlier action but it is admitted that it is competent to raise them now for the first time. In order to deal with them I must first consider the terms of the clause against which they are directed. It is clause 5 of the Agreement of 1938, which is in these terms: If in any month during the continuance of the said Licence the aggregate quantity of contract material sold or used by TECO and Industrial (other than contract material supplied to TECO by the Grantors or any Licensees under the said patents) shall exceed a quota of 50 kilograms (50 Kg) TECO shall whether all or any of such material shall be subject to royalty hereunder or not pay to the Grantors compensation equal to thirty per cent. (30%) of the sum which represents the excess net value that is to say the average net value per kilogram of all contract material sold or used by TECO and Industrial in the said month multiplied by the weight in kilograms of all such contract material as aforesaid sold or used by TECO and Industrial during such month in excess of fifty kilograms (50 Kg). Provided that contract material sold by TECO to Industrial shall only be taken into account for the purposes of this clause on the occasion of its sale or use by Industrial.

Before considering this clause in detail it is necessary to have in mind something about the nature of contract material. TECO's process begins by taking tungsten carbide and any other desired ingredient in finely powdered form and the object of the process is to get the grains or particles to adhere to each other so that the finished product is an extremely hard object of the required shape. This is done by sintering in two stages. After the first stage the powder has been compacted into an object which can be fairly easily worked to approximately the right size and shape. The second stage then makes the object so hard that it is difficult to grind away any of it. It is only when this second stage is completed that the object becomes contract material within the meaning of the Agreement. The manufacturer can then sell the object in this state or he can grind it after the second stage is completed so as to sharpen its edge or bring it to the exact shape which his customer wants. It is admitted that any such operation after the second stage is use of contract material by the manufacturer within the meaning of the Agreement.

It appears that there are two grades of contract material, the iron grade and the steel grade. They are made by somewhat different processes and both were within the scope of the patents in force in 1938. But the patents with regard to the iron grade expired in 1941: thereafter only the patents with regard to the steel grade remained. So the clause operated in this way. Down to 1941 the only possible ways in which TECO could get contract material which they could sell or use were by making it themselves or by buying it from T.M.M.C. or their other licensees. If in any month TECO sold or used more than 50 Kg. of contract material made by themselves they had to pay compensation on the excess, but they would pay no compensation in respect of selling or using any contract material which they had acquired from T.M.M.C. or their licensees. This was not, in my view. calculated to confer any preference on T.M.M.C. or to induce TECO to buy from T.M.M.C. rather than make the material themselves. There were price fixing arrangements in the deeds which, if I understand them rightly, would give little encouragement to TECO to buy from T.M.M.C. even though they could do so without compensation affecting material so bought, and I can find nothing to indicate that TECO did buy from T.M.M.C. or that it was contemplated that they would make a practice of doing so. But the inclusion of this exemption in clause 5 and of a similar exemption from royalty in clause 3 shows that the parties thought that such purchases might occur and the most likely reason for the exemption would seem to be that, if TECO bought direct from T.M.M.C., T.M.M.C. would get their full profit on what they sold to TECO in the same way as if they had sold to anyone else, and that, if TECO bought from another licensee of T.M.M.C., the material sold by that licensee would be taken into account in assessing the compensation payable by that licensee. So, if material acquired by TECO from T.M.M.C or their licensees were taken into account to increase the compensation payable by TECO, the effect would be that T.M.M.C. would get a double profit from the same material and that no doubt was thought to be unfair, and to require the insertion of the exemption.

But after the iron grade patents had expired the situation with regard to iron grade contract material might be different. It was then open to anyone to make that material and, if that material was then made by some manufacturer independent of T.M.M.C., it was open to TECO to buy it and use it or resell it. In 1938 no one could say whether after 1941 independent manufacturers would manufacture this material or whether, if they did, the price and quality of their product would offer any inducement to TECO to buy from them rather than make the material themselves or buy it from T.M.M.C. But the terms of clause 5 are certainly wide enough to require TECO to bring into computation for the purpose of compensation any material which they might then buy from independent manufacturers and use or resell themselves. And it is also clear that after the iron grade patents had expired TECO were still liable to pay compensation in respect of iron grade contract material manufactured by themselves.

TECO now say that in as much as clause 5 required payment of compensation to T.M.M.C. in respect of iron grade material after T.M.M.C.'s patents relating to that material had expired it was in restraint of trade. I think that in the circumstances of this case it may be presumed that this obligation would tend to have the effect of diminishing the amount of iron grade material which TECO would be able to sell at a profit and putting them at some disadvantage in competing with T.M.M.C. But even if that were sufficient to show that clause 5 is objectionable it is still necessary to consider whether any restraint which it might cause is justifiable as being reasonable in the interests of the parties and in the public interest. As regards the parties, counsel for TECO rightly admitted that in view of their disadvantageous position, which I have already mentioned, it was reasonable for them to accept the 1938 agreement. T.M.M.C. no doubt drove a hard bargain but I cannot hold that they took an unconscionable advantage of their position, or that clause 5 was commercially unjustifiable or unreasonable for the protection of their trading interests. Counsel argued that a restraint may be reasonable in the interests of the parties and yet against the public interest, and so it may be. But I am unable to hold that this restraint was against the public interest. There is nothing to show that it either limited or was likely to limit the total supply of the material available for purchase by the public or that it had or was likely to have any substantial effect on the price which consumers would have to pay. If TECO had refused to make the agreement it was not argued that there was any provision in the Patents Act which could have been invoked. The most that can be said is that T.M.M.C., instead of trying to drive TECO out of business, which they could probably have done without in any way offending against the law, offered to TECO an agreement which, although it might limit their activities, allowed to them a substantial share of the trade: and I know of no authority for holding that that is against the public interest. To hold that that is against the public interest would only encourage a trader in an advantageous position to act more ruthlessly against his rival than he might be inclined to do.

TECO's last defence is that clause 5 of the Agreement of 1938 offends against section 38 (1) (a) of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907, and is therefore null and void. Section 38 (1) is in these terms:

It shall not be lawful in any contract made after the passing of this Act in relation to the sale or lease of, or licence to use or work, any article or process protected by a patent to insert a condition the effect of which will be—

(a) to prohibit or restrict the purchaser, lessee or licensee from using any article or class of articles, whether patented or not, or any patented process, supplied or owned by any person other than the seller, lessor or licensor or his nominees; or

(b) to require the purchaser, lessee, or licensee to acquire from the seller, lessor, or licensor, or his nominees, any article or class of articles not protected by the patent;

and any such condition shall be null and void, as being in restraint of trade and contrary to public policy."

This is not an easy subsection to interpret. Let me therefore first take a case to which it clearly applies. Before the section was enacted the owner of a patented process might and sometimes did attach to a licence to use the process a condition that the licensee must buy raw material used in the process from him and from no one else. Such a condition was prohibited by the section, no doubt because it was regarded as an abuse of the patentee's monopoly in that it imposed on the licensee a restraint beyond the scope of the patent. The condition might be a positive obligation to buy the raw material from the licensor—that is made unlawful by subsection (1) (b) —or it might be a negative obligation prohibiting the licensee from buying it from any person other than the licensor and that is prohibited by sub-section (1) (a). In the same way the seller of a machine protected by a patent might require the buyer to purchase raw material from him or prohibit the buyer from purchasing it from any other person and that is also made illegal.

Obviously, a condition restricting the right of the licensee to choose from whom he would buy articles not protected by the licensor's patents need not be drafted in such direct terms. It is not difficult to imagine circumstances where a condition which did not expressly require the licensee to buy from the licensor or prohibit him from buying elsewhere would in fact operate to deprive the licensee of the right to buy in the open market and the section is drafted in terms wide enough to nullify such a condition. It is not limited to conditions which in terms prohibit or restrict or require: it makes unlawful any condition the effect of which will be to prohibit or restrict the licensee from buying from others or to require him to buy from the licensor.

In trying to simplify my explanation I have stated the effect of sub-section (1) (a)rather too widely. For some reason that is not apparent to me this subsection does not nullify a condition prohibiting or restricting the licensee from purchasing articles from any person other than the licensor: it only affects conditions the effect of which will be to prohibit or restrict the licensee from using such articles. No doubt the effect would generally be the same because generally the licensee would purchase with a view to using the articles, but it is worth noting in connection with the present case that if the licensee desired to buy for resale and not for use a condition might have the effect of restricting his right to buy in the open market and yet be unobjectionable provided that its effect was not to require him to buy from the licensor.

Before turning to the question at issue in the present case I should perhaps deal rather more fully with the phraseology of subsection (1) (a). I read it as affecting, first, any article or class of articles, whether patented or not, supplied by any person other than the licensor, and, secondly, any patented process owned by any person other than the licensor; and the patented articles or patented processes must, I think, be articles or processes protected by other patents than those under which the licence is granted.

I have tried to explain the subsection using only the words licensee and licensor: I do not think that it is necessary to elaborate my explanation to include all the words "purchaser, lessee or licensee on the one hand and seller, lessor, or licensor, or his nominees on the other. And I must further note that it is admitted that section 38 does not apply to a condition the effect of which is merely to restrict the volume of the licensee's trade or the amount of unpatented raw material which he can use in his manufacture while leaving him free to buy the restricted amount where he chooses. Such a condition is left to the ordinary law of restraint of trade. The purpose and effect of section 38 is to prevent the licensor from limiting the right of the licensee to trade with others so as in effect to compel the licensee to trade with him.

I now turn back to the facts of the present case. I have already said that the terms of clause 5 show that the parties contemplated at least the possibility that TECO would want to buy contract material as well as make it themselves; and that after the expiry of the iron grade patents they might be able to buy iron grade material from other manufacturers than T.M.M.C. and their licensees. If then they wanted to buy iron grade material and if supplies from such outside manufacturers were available, they would not be prevented by clause 5 from buying from outsiders but there would be an inducement to buy from T.M.M.C. and not from outsiders because purchases from outsiders would come into the computation for paying compensation, whereas purchases from T.M.M.C. would not. It is said that the effect of this inducement would be to restrict TECO from buying material from persons other than T.M.M.C. or their other licensees, and if TECO were not buying to resell but were buying to use the material them-selves then the effect of this inducement would be to restrict TECO from using material bought from persons other than T.M.M.C. or their other licensees. That and that alone is said to bring clause 5 within the scope of section 38 and to make it null and void.

It will be seen that a number of contingencies were involved before this inducement could operate: TECO must want to buy iron grade material instead of making it and they must want to buy it for use and not for immediate resale ; some independent manufacturer must have started making the material; and the material must be of suitable quality and must be available at a competitive price. If then the independent manufacturer's price were more than 30 per cent. below T.M.M.C.'s price the 30 per cent. compensation would not matter as it would still pay TECO to buy from the independent manufacturer, and if that manufacturer's price were above T.M.M.C.'s price the compensation would not matter as TECO would in any case buy from T.M.M.C. But if that manufacturer's price were below, but less than 30 per cent. below, T.M.M.C.'s price, then the liability to pay compensation would probably induce TECO to buy from T.M.M.C. whereas, in the absence of clause 5, they would probably have bought from the independent manufacturer. It is the possibility of that happening which, on the argument for TECO. makes it necessary to hold that the effect of clause 5 " will be " to restrict TECO from using iron grade material supplied by any person other than T.M.M.C. and their licensees.

There appear to me to be four key words in the subsection— the effect of which will be (a)to prohibit or restrict ... or (b)to require . . . To my mind, the natural meaning of the subsection is that the effect of the condition must be to limit the right of the licensee to make a choice, and I do not think that these words are appropriate to cover a case such as the present where the licensee remains free to choose but the presence of the condition will in some circumstances create an inducement to choose to buy from the licensor. I take first the word require in subsection (1) (b): the effect of a particular condition may be to offer so great an advantage to the licensee if he buys from the licensor that it would be extremely foolish of him not to do that, but I do not think that in the ordinary use of language it could properly be said that the effect of such a condition will be to require the licensee to do it. I feel bound to hold that subsection (1) (b)only applies if the effect of the condition is that whenever certain circumstances occur the licensee, if he wishes to buy the article, is obliged to buy it from the licensor. Then I take the word "prohibit" in subsection (1) (a). It is true that the adjective prohibitive is frequently used when there is no legal prohibition, as in the phrase a prohibitive price, and it may be that the verb prohibit is sometimes used in that way; but I would not expect the word " prohibit" to be used in this context to denote a state of affairs where the inducement not to buy the other person's goods is so great that no reasonable person would choose to do so, and I see nothing in the context pointing to such a meaning. I think that the meaning is that the effect of the condition will be such as to oblige the licensee in certain circumstances not to use the other person's goods. Then I come to the word "restrict". A person though not prohibited is restricted from using something if he is permitted to use it to a certain extent or subject to certain conditions but otherwise obliged not to use it, but I do not think that a person is properly said to be restricted from using something by a condition the effect of which is to offer him some inducement not to use it, or in some other way to influence his choice. To my mind, the more natural meaning here is restriction of the licensee's right to use the article and I am fortified in that opinion by two considerations.

If I am right in thinking that require and prohibit refer to legal obligations to buy or not to use, I see nothing to suggest that restrict is used in quite a different sense which has nothing to do with legal obligation but which relates to financial disadvantage. And, secondly, to say that the effect will be to restrict seems to me much more appropriate if restriction refers to restriction of the licensee's right to use than it would be if restriction refers to an inducement not to use. The legality of the condition has to be determined at the time when the licence is granted and if the terms of the condition are such as to restrict the licensee's right to use an article in certain circumstances then it can properly be said that its effect will be to restrict him from using it. But if, as in the present case, all that can be said is that the effect of the condition in some circumstances will be to offer a financial advantage, which may be considerable or may be small, if the licensee uses the licensor's goods, I do not see how it can be said that its effect will be to restrict the licensee from using other goods. The licensee may be influenced by this financial advantage or he may, perhaps for good reason, choose to disregard it: it is impossible to say in advance what the effect will be.

I recognise that to give this meaning to the section leaves room for evasion. I do not think that the primary purpose of clause 5 was to evade this section and the absence of any reported case in a period of 48 years since the section was enacted would seem to show that evasion of this kind has not been common. But undoubtedly it would often be possible to achieve a preference for the licensor by coupling the licence with a condition which, though not having the effect of limiting the licensee's freedom of choice, imposed some burden on the licensee if he bought certain articles in the open market. The question is whether it is legitimate to stretch the words of section 38 to make them apply to such a case. Section 38 (1) is a highly penal provision. It not only makes the whole condition void, although the circumstances in which it would have the effect of restricting the licensee may be very unlikely to occur, but by subsection (4) it also makes the existence of the condition a defence to an action for infringement of the patent. At best the section is ambiguous, and if a penal provision is ambiguous it ought not, in my view, to be construed in a wider sense than the ordinary meaning of its terms requires. This section appears to have been enacted to deal with a definite and limited abuse, and if Parliament failed to take the opportunity to deal with the whole matter sufficiently comprehensively, then the remedy was an amending Act of Parliament.

I would allow this appeal and restore the order of Mr. Justice Pearson. The respondents must pay the costs in your Lordships' House and in the Court of Appeal.

Lord Tucker

My Lords,,

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of the present Respondents (hereinafter referred to as " TECO ") on the ground that the Appellants (hereinafter referred to as T.M.M.C.) were not entitled to recover sums called compensation under clause 5 of a deed dated 2nd April, 1938, to which T.M.M.C. and TECO were parties, because they had not before action brought given a sufficient notice to terminate a period of suspension during the currency of which payment of compensation money could not be enforced by reason of the equitable principle enunciated in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Company 2A.C. 439. It may be convenient at this stage to quote the language used by Lord Cairns in that case. He said: It was not argued at your Lordships' Bar, and it could not be argued, that there was any right of a Court of Equity, or any practice of a Court of Equity, to give relief in cases of this kind, by way of mercy, or by way merely of saving property from forfeiture, but it is the first principle upon which all Courts of Equity proceed, that if parties who have entered into definite and distinct terms involving certain legal results—certain penalties or legal forfeiture—afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiation which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict rights arising under the contract will not be enforced, or will be kept in suspense, or held in abeyance, the person who otherwise might have enforced those rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have thus taken place between the parties.

The present is the second of two actions between these parties arising out of the deed of 2nd April, 1938, which contained the terms and conditions under which a licence under certain Letters Patent was granted by T.M.M.C. to TECO. In the first action TECO claimed damages for fraud against T.M.M.C. They alleged that as a result of certain fraudulent misrepresentations they had paid sums for compensation under clause 5, and in paragraph 10 of their Statement of Claim they said: "Thereafter the Plaintiffs and Defendants agreed that no sums should be payable in respect of compensation after 31st December, 1939, or alternatively that the Defendants would accept the amount of the royalties in full satisfaction of all sums payable under the said deeds as from 31st December, 1939.

By their Defence T.M.M.C., in paragraph 8, denied the agreement alleged and alternatively relied on the Statute of Frauds and lack of consideration. In paragraph 17 of their Counterclaim T.M.M.C. said : In breach of their obligations under Clauses 3, 5, 7 and 8 of the Deed of Agreement the first Plaintiffs (i.e. TECO) have not since 31st March, 1942, rendered any accounts or paid the sums due for ' royalties' or compensation. The Defendants do not desire to enforce payment of compensation in respect of deliveries made after 31st December, 1939, but before the end of hostilities with Germany.

In their claim for relief they asked for delivery of accounts in the form specified in clause 7 of the deed of all material sold or used since 31st March, 1942, and for an enquiry into the sum due from TECO for compensation since 1st June. 1945.

In their Reply TECO admitted that they had not rendered accounts or paid any sum to the Defendants (T.M.M.C.) but otherwise did not admit paragraph 17 of the Counterclaim.

It is perhaps relevant to refer also to paragraph 3 of the Reply in which, inter alia, TECO relied on part performance in answer to the plea of the Statute of Frauds. The particulars thereunder are as follows: —

Subsequent to the date of the said oral agreement the Plaintiffs have not paid any compensation and have received no complaint from the Defendants in respect of such non-payment. Subsequent to the said date the Defendants have never made any demand upon the Plaintiffs for the payment of compensation but have confined their requests for payment to payments due in respect of royalty, and in particular the Plaintiffs will rely upon letters passing between the first named Plaintiffs and the Defendants " (the dates of which are then set out).

It will be observed that nowhere in the pleadings is there any statement of facts relied upon as giving rise to the application of the principle in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway whereby T.M.M.C. would be precluded from recovering compensation for a limited period or for a period which would continue until terminated by notice. Nor are any facts set out showing in what manner and to what extent TECO altered their position in reliance on any promise or forbearance on the part of T.M.M.C.

At the trial before Devlin, J. no amendments were made to the pleadings with respect to these matters although other amendments were made. Devlin, J. found against TECO both on the issue of fraud and with regard to the agreement alleged in paragraph 10 of the Statement of Claim. After referring to the extremely vague and unsatisfactory evidence of Mr. McLeod on behalf of TECO with regard to the alleged agreement he said:

Accordingly the Plaintiff has been forced to rely mainly upon the evidence of a Mr. Bateman, a witness called for the Defendants, and Mr. Bateman's evidence was in these terms on Day 5, at page 46, that on an occasion in 1942 he heard Mr. Wickman say to Mr. McLeod when this topic was being discussed words to this effect—he cannot, of course, remember the precise words—' I have already told you ' that you will not be charged compensation and you will get a new agreement in which we hope there will not be a quota '. That evidence, taken in conjunction with the evidence of the Plaintiff, vague though it is, satisfies me that some agreement of some sort was made. When I use the word ' agreement ' I am using it now in a very broad sense ; I am not attempting to consider the question whether it is an agreement that is binding in law. But it is quite plain that something was said by Mr. Wickman to these licensees, something which resulted in their not paying compensation, at any rate, for the duration of the war, and I have no doubt that the sort of thing that was said—and indeed it is the best evidence the Plaintiff could produce—is the sort of thing that Mr. Bateman heard said.

That being so, what I have to consider is whether those words support the Plaintiff's contention. The Plaintiff says that an agreement was made which relieved him from the obligation of ever paying compensation again, and thus to that extent varied the deed into which he had entered in 1938, by striking out from it the compensation provisions. I think that that is putting far too great a weight on the words used by Mr. Wickman as Mr. Bateman heard them. One has to have regard to the circumstances in which they are used. They were used in relation to a plan (if I may so put it) that a new agreement was in course of preparation, and that in this new agreement there was going to be some sort of redrawing of quotas. It seems to me extremely unlikely, since the idea was then in the minds of the parties that a new agreement was to be drawn up, that Mr. Wickman should have intended or should have been understood to be striking something for ever out of the old agreement.

After stating that that view is borne out by some further considerations, to which he refers, he went on: " He is less likely to have taken either of those courses if he treated it as being merely a temporary remission of the obligation to pay compensation, a remission that was to last only during certain circumstances, or only until it was recalled by the Defendants.

Finally he said:

The result is that I reject the view that there was an agreement that was intended to continue, which was to vary the original agreement. The agreement that was made was, in my view, one of two things I do not think there was anything in it which could be said to limit its operation for the duration of the war, although that may have been the intention of the Defendant Company. But I think it fairly emerges, from the language which Mr. Wickman was heard to use, that it was intended to be a temporary modification pending the new agreement. Accordingly, I think that when the new agreement was presented to Mr. McLeod and was rejected by him the temporary relief which he had been granted came to an end. I do not mean that it came at once to an end. It is obvious that it would be a reasonable provision that he should have some reasonable notice in order to make the necessary alterations. Compensation is now claimed from June, 1945, which is some nine months after the new agreement was presented to him, and I think that gives him sufficient time.

I have set out these passages at some length as I consider it important to see precisely what the learned Judge decided. He uses the word agreement more than once, but explains that he is using it in a very broad sense, and when his findings are examined it appears that what he found as a fact was that Mr. Wickman had made a promise not to charge compensation pending the new agreement and that he had carried out his promise by not claiming it. That and nothing more. On appeal the Court of Appeal held, with regard to the counterclaim, that the findings of Devlin, J. made the principle laid down by Lord Cairns in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway (supra) and by Lord Justice Bowen in Birmingham and District Land Company v. London and North Western Railway Company 40 Ch. Div. at page 296 applicable, but they differed from his view that the temporary period of suspension ended with the presentation of the new draft agreement or when the negotiations broke down. Lord Justice Somervell said: I think, against that background, the Plaintiffs were entitled to an express notice if the old terms were to be enforced again according to their literal provisions. If you read the correspondence, the Plaintiffs wrote objecting to the agreement; there was ample opportunity for the Defendants to say: ' Well, you know, if you do not like this agreement we shall withdraw our terms of not collecting the 30% and you will be back on the letter of the old pre-war contract'. Not having done that, I do not think they can rely on anything until we come to the counter-claim. That plainly indicates the view that they were taking.

Lord Justice Cohen agreed and said: Now, as my Lord has said, the direct evidence that the Plaintiffs acted on that invitation may be somewhat scanty, but I respectfully agree with him in accepting the argument of Mr. Beyfus that the matter is really one of res ipsa loquitur, and I feel no doubt that the Plaintiffs carried on their business during the war on the basis that the compensation would not be demanded until due intimation of the intention so to do was given.

This last sentence sums up the essence of the decision on this point so far as the present action is concerned. The Defendants could not get the relief they claimed in their Counterclaim because they had given no previous intimation of their intention to demand payment. That left open for decision in a subsequent action whether or not the Counterclaim was a sufficient intimation.

My Lords, the parties to the present action are estopped from disputing the correctness of the decision of the Court of Appeal in the first action to the effect that circumstances existed which gave rise to the application of the equitable principle in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway and that no sufficient intimation to terminate the period of suspension of payment had been given prior to the Counterclaim in that action, but it would be wrong, in my opinion, if the view were to prevail that your Lordships in the present case are tacitly accepting the correctness of that decision. If it were permissible to go into these matters on the present appeal I should—with all respect— have desired to hear argument as to the application of this equitable doctrine to a case where the party who says he has been misled and altered his position has done so in reliance on an agreement which is found never to have been entered into and which is essentially different from the promise which is held to have been made and who gives no precise evidence with regard to the manner or extent of the alteration of his position. The sole question, therefore, before the Courts on this issue in the present action has been throughout: Was the Counterclaim in the first action a sufficient intimation to terminate the period of suspension which has been found to exist? Pearson. J. held that it was. He said:

The result of these cases, in my opinion, is that, where the rule of equity applies, the period of suspension comes to an end when it is in all the circumstances equitable that it should come to an end, and that is, normally at any rate, according to the circumstances, either at or within a reasonable time after the termination of the state of affairs which is the cause or basis of the suspension. It is not necessary that the person whose legal rights have been suspended should give a notice purporting to terminate the suspension, although of course it would be fair and reasonable and advisable for him to do so.

In this case the state of affairs which was the cause or basis of, the suspension would have been, according to the view taken in the Court of first instance in the former action, the continuance of the negotiations for new licensing arrangements, but according to the view of the Court of Appeal the state of affairs was, I think, the attitude of T.M.M.C. in not requiring payment of the compensation for the time being. When that attitude was reversed, a reasonable time for resumption of compensation payments began to run. The making of the Counterclaim in the first action clearly involved a reversal of the previous attitude, and therefore it started running a reasonable time for resumption of compensation payments.

In the Court of Appeal it was argued on behalf of TECO that the Counter-claim did not purport to determine any existing agreement and that in any event it was deficient in that it specified no date for the termination. These submissions were largely based upon a judgment of the Privy Council in the case of Canadian Pacific Railway v. The King (1931) A.C.414, which was cited for the first time in the Court of Appeal. It was a decision relating to a licence to erect certain telegraph poles and wires on property belonging to the Crown in Canada. I shall return to examine this case at a later stage. Both these submissions prevailed and the judgment of Pearson, J. was reversed. Hence the present appeal.

My Lords, it is difficult to keep these two submissions entirely separate as they both involve consideration of what is necessary to terminate a period of suspension and restore the parties to their previous position. It has been said more than once that every case involving the application of this equitable doctrine must depend upon its own particular circumstances. It is, of course, clear, as Pearson, J. pointed out, that there are some cases where the period of suspension clearly terminates on the happening of a certain event or the cessation of a previously existing state of affairs or on the lapse of a reasonable period thereafter. In such cases no intimation or notice of any kind may be necessary. But in other cases where there is nothing to fix the end of the period which may be dependent upon the will of the person who has given or made the concession, equity will no doubt require some notice or intimation together with a reasonable period for re-adjustment before the grantor is allowed to enforce his strict rights. No authority has been cited which binds your Lordships to hold that in all such cases the notice must take any particular form or specify a date for the termination of the suspensory period. This is not surprising having regard to the infinite variety of circumstances which may give rise to this principle which was stated in broad terms and must now be regarded as of general application. It should. I think, be applied with great caution to purely creditor and debtor relation-ships which involve no question of forfeiture or cancellation, and it would be unfortunate if the law were to introduce into this field technical requirements with regard to notice and the like which might tend to penalise or discourage the making of reasonable concessions.

My Lords, in the present case I can find nothing which persuades me that equity could require anything further than that which is contained in the Counterclaim in the first action. It is true that it does not purport to be putting an end to an existing "agreement" for a temporary suspension. No such agreement had been pleaded. It does, however, contain a clear intimation of a reversal by T.M.M.C. of their previous attitude with regard to the payment of compensation and of their intention to enforce compliance with clause 5 of the agreement and for an account thereunder.

It does not, I think, lie in the mouth of TECO, who had consistently failed to comply with their obligations to render the returns required by the deed, now to complain that the notice should have specified a named future date upon which the suspensory period was to come to an end.

I turn now to the case of Canadian Pacific Railway v. The King (supra) which was so much relied upon by Romer, L.J. in the Court of Appeal. It dealt with the withdrawal of a licence to erect telegraph poles. Licence cases are sometimes somewhat similar to the present class of case but I do not consider that they are safe guides to the solution of the application of the equitable principle with which alone your Lordships are now concerned. Even licence cases are, however, largely dependent upon their special facts, as was pointed out by Lord Russell of Killowen in delivering the judgment of the Board in the Canadian Pacific case (see page 432). Furthermore, in that case it was expressly stated that it was not decided on equitable grounds. At page 430 Lord Russell says: Upon the facts of the present case their Lordships can find no foundation for the application of any equitable doctrine in favour of the Appellant. There was no mistaken belief by the Appellant as to the ownership of or the rights over the Inter-colonial property, still less was there any such mistaken belief, which was known to the Crown. There was no conduct on the part of the Crown which induced the Appellant to build in the belief that rights in perpetuity would be acquired. There was nothing upon which to ground any estoppel. The facts are all the other way. There was, moreover, one feature in that case which is alone sufficient to explain the decision requiring the Crown to specify a date in its notice, namely, that a letter had been written indicating that unless the poles were removed at once it would be necessary for the Crown to fix a date for their removal. No such date was ever fixed or notified to the Company before the proceedings were commenced. In similar circumstances it might well be held inequitable to allow T.M.M.C. to enforce clause 5 of the deed by issuing a writ without first giving notice specifying a date. I do not, however, think it is profitable to examine the circumstances in which notices may have been required in other cases or the precise form of such notices unless some principle of general application is to be found therein. I can find no such general principle in the Canadian Pacific case nor in any other of the cases referred to in argument on this appeal.

I should, perhaps, add that those cases where a licence has been given contractually, in my view, afford no assistance since in such cases the requirements with regard to notice must necessarily be dependent upon the construction of the contract by virtue of which the licence was obtained. I have not therefore thought it necessary to refer to the views expressed on that subject by the noble Lords who took part in Winter Garden Theatre (London), Limited v. Millenium Productions Limited [1948} A.C. 173.

Where I respectfully differ from the views expressed by Romer L.J. in the Court of Appeal in the present case is that I am unable to obtain the same help from the Canadian Pacific case and I feel that he has laid undue emphasis on the word " agreement " as constituting the basis for the application of the equitable doctrine and consequently imposing on T.M.M.C. steps which would normally be required from a party to a contract who desires to determine a contractual relationship.

In my view, the Counterclaim of 26th March, 1946, followed by a period of nine months to 1st January, 1947, from which date compensation in the present action is claimed, is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of equity and entitle T.M.M.C. to recover compensation under clause 5 of the deed as from the latter date. In the somewhat peculiar circumstances of the present case any other result would, I think, be highly inequitable.

My Lords, with regard to the other defences relied on by TECO I agree that those of restraint of trade and penalty fail. As to the remaining defence of section 38 of the Patents and Designs Act 1907 which involves a question of construction which, I confess, has caused me considerable difficulty, I have reached the conclusion, for the reasons which have been stated by my noble and learned friend, Lord Oaksey, that the Courts below were right in holding that this defence did not avail the Respondents in the present case.

In the result, therefore, I would allow the appeal.

Lord Cohen

My Lords,

The dispute between the parties is as to the right of the Appellants to what was called compensation and arose out of two deeds, one a deed of agreement and the other a licence, both executed on the 2nd April, 1938, and made between the Appellants (to whom I shall refer hereafter as "T.M.M.C.") of the first part, the Respondents (to whom I shall refer hereafter as "TECO") of the second  art, and Tungsten Industrial Products Limited (therein defined as " Industrial ") of the third part. Industrial were the distributors of the products of TECO and played no part in the disputes with which your Lordships are concerned.

These deeds have given rise to two actions between the parties. The facts leading to the first action were carefully and elaborately marshalled in the judgment of Devlin, J. therein and the events which subsequently occurred are stated with sufficiency and accuracy in the judgment of Pearson, J. whose order, dated the 16th November, 1953, directing the payment by TECO to T.M.M.C. of the sum of £84,050 4s. 4d. with interest at the rate of 4 per cent. from the 11th September, 1950, to the date of judgment, was reversed by the Court of Appeal. It is from that order that the appeal now before your Lordships has been brought. Like Romer, L.J. in the Court of Appeal, I shall confine myself to stating as briefly as I can the matters which appear to me to be relevant to the points argued before your Lordships.

In 1931 T.M.M.C. was incorporated in England by Krupps of Essen, the well-known German firm, for the purpose of developing as their subsidiary certain patents which Krupps had acquired in relation to Tungsten carbide. Under these patents T.M.M.C. manufactured articles which were, in the main, machine tool tips, and they marketed them under the name of "Wimet". In or about 1934 T.M.M.C. brought proceedings against the British Thomson-Houston Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as " B.T.H.") for infringement of the said patents, but those proceedings were settled upon the terms of an agreement made on the 1st January, 1936, under which B.T.H. acknowledged the validity of T.M.M.C.'s patents and were granted an exclusive licence to manufacture under such patents in territory which included the United Kingdom. One result of this agreement was that T.M.M.C. could only grant subsequent licences with the consent of B.T.H. but they were entitled to and did continue to manufacture them-selves under the patents.

Some time later the activities of TECO came to the notice of T.M.M.C., who took the view that TECO were infringing T.M.M.C.'s patents. Negotiations took place and ultimately, with the consent of B.T.H., Heads of Agreement were signed on the 1st June, 1937, under which TECO received a licence under the said patents. I need not refer to the terms of the Heads of Agreement as they were superseded by the two deeds of the 2nd April, 1938, which in substance incorporated the terms of the Heads of Agreement.

The licence was a non-exclusive licence under the patents to import, make, use, and, subject as thereinafter mentioned, to sell contract material as therein defined in Territory A as therein defined, and to sell contract material in and for export to Territory B as therein defined, upon and subject to the conditions therein and in the Deed of even date contained. The licence was to commence from 1st June, 1937, and to continue until the 18th September, 1947, and thereafter until determined by either T.M.M.C. or TECO on six months' notice in writing.

Contract material was defined as Hard metal alloys made in accordance with the inventions the subjects of the said patents or any of them whether made before or after expiry of such patent or patents ".

The hard metal alloys mentioned in the said definition fell into two classes, iron grade and steel grade. The last of the patents relating to iron grade expired in December, 1941.

Broadly speaking, Territory A consisted of the United Kingdom and Territory B included the British Commonwealth and Empire but not Canada.

The agreement of even date with the licence contained a recital that TECO had made and sold hard metal alloys of a composition and by a process which fell within one of the said patents. Under clause 2 T.M.M.C. waived all claims against TECO and Industrial and TECO's customers in respect of any infringement of the patents.

Under clause 3 TECO had to pay to T.M.M.C. a royalty of 10 per cent. on the net value of all contract material sold or used by TECO and/or Industrial (other than contract material supplied to TECO by the Grantors or any Licensees under the said patents) during the continuance of the said licence and made in accordance with one or more of the said patents (other than or in addition to Letters Patent No. 262,723) which should be in force at the date of sale or use thereof by TECO and/or Industrial, such royalty being payable in the case of contract material sold by TECO to Industrial only upon its use or sale by Industrial.

Clause 4 contained price regulation provisions which I need not set out in detail but which were said to throw light on the question of unlawful restraint of trade.

Clause 5 provided for the payment of what was called "compensation" and so far as material is in the following terms: -

“5. If in any month during the continuance of the said Licence the aggregate quantity of contract material sold or used by TECO and Industrial (other than contract material supplied to TECO by the Grantors or any licensees under the said patents) shall exceed a quota of fifty kilograms (50 Kg.) TECO shall whether all or any of such material shall be subject to royalty hereunder or not pay to the Grantors compensation equal to thirty per cent. (30%) of the sum which represents the excess net value ".

The clause then proceeded to define " excess net value ".

Clause 7 provided for monthly returns of contract material sold or used by TECO and Industrial in the preceding month, and clause 8 provided for the monthly payment of royalty and compensation.

Clause 12 gave TECO certain rights in respect to improvements upon or modifications of the inventions the subject of the said patents.

I need not refer to any other provision of the deed of agreement.

The effect of clause 5 having regard to the division into iron grades and steel grades and to the dates of the relevant patents is accurately summarized by Pearson, J. as follows: —

The effect of the compensation provisions over the period of Licence can be worked out in this way: ' 1st June, 1937, to March, ' 1939: Both the iron grades and the steel grades are protected by ' patents, and bear royalty, and also bear compensation on the excess ' over the quota. For the period March, 1939, to December, 1941, the ' iron grades are still protected by the patent No. 4 in the schedule, ' they do not bear royalty, but they bear compensation on the excess ' over quota. The steel grades are still protected by patents and still ' bear royalty and compensation on the excess over the quota. In the 'third period, December, 1941 to July, 1947, the iron grades are not ' protected by any patent (unless possibly there might be some later ' patents under clause 12), they do not bear royalty, but they do bear ' compensation on the excess over the quota. The steel grades are ' protected by patents, or at least one patent, and bear royalty and ' bear compensation on the excess over the quota. Then there is the ' fourth short period, July to September, 1947, and both the iron grades ' and the steel grades are unprotected by patents (unless conceivably  ' there might be some later patents under clause 12) and they do not ' bear royalty but they do bear compensation on the excess over 'quota ' ".

It is convenient here to observe that between the 1st June, 1937, the date of the Heads of Agreement, and the 2nd April, 1938, the output of TECO was in every month in excess of 50 kilograms and in March, 1938, amounted to 168 kilograms.

At the time of the execution of the agreements Mr. McLeod, who was the managing director of TECO, raised no objection to the compensation provisions of the agreement, but finding that he could not pass the burden thereof on to his customers he was, even before the outbreak of war, protesting against them.

Shortly before the outbreak of war the control of T.M.M.C. had passed from German to British hands and Mr. McLeod, who had been making his complaints to a Dr. Louis, an agent of Krupps, renewed them to Mr. Wickman, who was connected with the persons then in control of T.M.M.C.

TECO, however, continued to make returns and to pay royalty and compensation down to the outbreak of war. TECO then defaulted, but in May, 1940, paid a sum in satisfaction of royalty and compensation due down to the 31st December, 1939. TECO continued to make returns and pay royalties, but not compensation, up to the 31st March, 1942. After that date returns were made up to some date which I am unable to specify in 1943, but nothing further was paid for royalty or compensation prior to the commencement of the first action.

Discussions appear to have gone on between Mr. McLeod for TECO and Mr. Wickman or other representatives of T.M.M.C. in regard to compensation. It seems clear that prior to the commencement of the first action T.M.M.C. did not make any claim for compensation in respect of any period after the 31st December, 1939, and in the first action TECO alleged a binding agreement for cancellation of the obligation to pay such compensation. The evidence as to what transpired is very sketchy. It is conveniently summarised by Devlin, J. in his judgment in the first action as follows: —

The Plaintiff has set up by way of defence to that that there was an agreement between him and Mr. Wickman made on behalf of their respective companies that compensation should be washed out altogether. The evidence which he has given about it is so vague that Mr. Beyfus has said that if the matter was left there he could hardly rely upon it. Mr. McLeod first stated that it was said by Mr. Wickman on the 19th February, 1941, but Mr. Wickman was not in the country, he was in America on the 19th February, 1941. Mr. McLeod then said that though he might have been mistaken about the date, at any rate it was said by Mr. Wickman on some occasion in 1943. All he could remember about it was that Mr. Wickman had said that compensation was washed out and all that was wanted was a flat 10 per cent. royalty. He had no recollection really of the circumstances in which it was said, and he really accepted that he had no real recollection of the interview at all. Accordingly, the Plaintiff has been forced to rely mainly upon the evidence of a Mr. Bateman, a witness called for the defendants, and Mr. Bateman's evidence was in these terms on Day 5 at page 46, that on an occasion in 1942 he heard Mr. Wickman say to Mr. McLeod when this topic was being discussed words to this effect—he cannot of course remember the precise words—' I have already told you that you will not be charged 'compensation and you will get a new agreement in which we hope 'there will not be a quota '. That evidence, taken in conjunction with the evidence of the Plaintiff, vague though it is, satisfies me that some agreement of some sort was made. When I use the word ' agreement ' I am using it now in a very broad sense; I am not attempting to consider the question of whether it is an agreement that is binding in law. But it is quite plain that something was said by Mr. Wickman to these licensees, something which resulted in their not paying compensation, at any rate for the duration of the war, and I have no doubt that the sort of thing that was said—and indeed it is the best evidence the Plaintiff could produce—is the sort of thing that Mr. Bateman heard said.

On the 21st September, 1944, T.M.M.C. submitted to TECO the draft of the proposed new agreement. It did not abolish quotas but it provided for the distribution of any compensation payable by any of the licensees who exceeded their quotas amongst those licensees who failed to achieve their quota.

TECO did not accept the proposed new agreement and on the 17th January, 1945, issued the writ in the first action claiming damages for fraud or alternatively breach of warranty and damages for breaches of the contracts contained in the two deeds of the 2nd April, 1938. In formulating their claim for damages in paragraph 6 of the Statement of Claim they alleged that they had paid as compensation £19,521 12s. 7d. and that thereafter it had been agreed that no sums should be payable in respect of compensation after the 31st December, 1939. By paragraph 10 of their Defence T.M.M.C. denied any such agreement and in the alternative relied on the Statute of Frauds. In the further alternative they alleged that if (which was denied) any such agreement was made there was no consideration for it. By their counterclaim they alleged breaches by TECO of their obligation to pay royalties and compensation but stated that they did not desire to enforce payment of compensation in respect of deliveries after the 31st December. 1939, but before the termination of hostilities.

It is to be observed that neither in their Statement of Claim nor in their Reply did TECO allege any equitable bar to the enforcement of the relief claimed by T.M.M.C. in their counterclaim though it must have been clear to TECO that T.M.M.C. were claiming to be entitled as from the termination of hostilities to enforce their strict legal rights under the two deeds of the 2nd April, 1938.

On the 20th January, 1950. Devlin, J., dismissed the Plaintiffs' claim except in respect of a minor breach of the agreement of 2nd April, 1938, for which he awarded nominal damages of 40s. That part of his decision is irrelevant to the matter now before your Lordships.

As regards the counterclaim, he negatived the assistance of any agreement binding in law for the final termination of the payment of compensation. I have already read one passage of his judgment dealing with this point. He concluded his judgment on this point of the case by saying :

The result is that I reject the view that there was any agreement that was intended to continue, which was to vary the original agreement. The agreement that was made was, in my view, one of two things. I do not think there was anything in it which could be said to limit its operation for the duration of the war, although that may have been the intention of the Defendant Company. But I think it fairly emerges, from the language which Mr. Wickman was heard to use, that it was intended to be a temporary modification pending the new agreement. Accordingly I think that when the new agreement was presented to Mr. McLeod and was rejected by him the temporary relief which he had been granted came to an end. I do not mean that it came at once to an end. It is obvious that it would be a reasonable provision that he should have some reasonable notice in order to make the necessary alterations. Compensation is now claimed from June. 1945, which is some nine months after the new agreement was presented to him, and I think that gives him sufficient time. If I should be wrong about that view then I should hold that it was a temporary arrangement which was made subject to the right of the Defendant Company to terminate by giving reasonable notice. I should regard the presentation of a new agreement in such circumstances as  amounting to a reasonable notice. I do not think that in this type of case it is necessary that the notice should be express. The rule that protects a party in circumstances such as these is a broad rule of equity and justice. It is not thought right that a man who has indicated that he is not going to insist upon his strict rights as a result of which the other party has altered his position, should be able to turn round at a minute's notice and insist upon his rights, however inconvenient it may be to the party who thought he was temporarily relieved. Equity requires that he should give reasonable notice that he is going to resume his strict rights. But all that is necessary to comply with that broad rule of equity is that the notice should be such as to put an ordinary person clearly in mind that the other party is going to resume his strict rights. I think it is plain that when one man is served with a draft of a new agreement which shows that the compensation provisions are going to be set in force again he should understand from that that he must either accept the new agreement or return to the strict position under the old agreement.

No such arrangement had been pleaded and had the judge thought that it afforded any defence to the counterclaim he would no doubt have required TECO to amend their reply, but on the view he formed of the matter any equitable bar to the relief claimed by T.M.M.C. in their counterclaim had been removed before the counterclaim was delivered. In the result T.M.M.C. succeeded on their counterclaim.

TECO appealed to the Court of Appeal, who dismissed the appeal so far as their claim in the action was concerned but they allowed it as far as that part of the counterclaim was concerned which dealt with compensation. The Court, which consisted of Somervell, L.J., Singleton, L.J. and myself, took a different view from that formed by Devlin, J. as to the result in equity of the conversation between Mr. McLeod and Mr. Wickman and of the conduct of T.M.M.C. in not claiming compensation after the 31st December. 1939, at any time prior to the delivery of the counterclaim. Romer, L.J. in the present action has cited relevant passages from the judgments of Somervell, L.J. and myself in the first action and I will content myself with three short citations. The first from the Judgment of Somervell, L.J.: I think, against that background, the Plaintiffs were entitled to an express notice if the old terms were to be enforced again according to their literal provisions. If you read the correspondence, the Plaintiffs wrote objecting to the agreement; there was ample opportunity for the Defendants to say: ' Well, you know, if you do not like this agreement we shall withdraw our terms of not collecting the 30 per cent. and you will ' be back on the letter of the old pre-war contract. 'They not having done that, I do not think they can rely on anything until we come to the Counter-claim. That plainly indicates the view that they were taking. I think the Plaintiffs would be entitled to a reasonable time after that. At page 71 of the record I say: " I think that there was the plainest possible indication by the Defendants that they did not intend for the time being to claim compensation, and that they conveyed that intimation in terms which amounted to an invitation to the Plaintiffs to continue to conduct their business on the basis that until something was done, until notice was given, no royalty would be demanded. Now, as my Lord has said, the direct evidence that the Plaintiffs acted on that invitation may be somewhat scanty, but I respectfully agree with him in accepting the argument of Mr. Beyfus that the matter is really one of res ipsa loquitur, and I feel no doubt that the Plaintiffs carried on their business during the war on the basis that the compensation would not be demanded until due intimation of the intention so to do was given. On page 72 I say: I think the Plaintiffs were entitled ... to receive notice if the Defendants were proposing to enforce a right to compensation which had been in suspense for five years or thereabouts. So far as I can see, nothing equivalent to such notice was given before, as I have said, the counterclaim was delivered, and in my opinion, therefore, compensation did not become payable until a reasonable time after delivery of the counterclaim.

It is, I think, plain from these judgments that at that time the Court of Appeal was of opinion that the counterclaim was a sufficient notice and that after the lapse of a reasonable time to enable TECO to make the necessary adjustments in the conduct of their business compensation would be payable without the necessity for further action by T.M.M.C. But our observations on that point must be regarded as obiter since once we came to the conclusion that (1) some positive action by TECO determining the temporary arrangement was required and that a reasonable time must be allowed to enable TECO to adjust their position after that action had been taken before T.M.M.C. could enforce their strict legal rights, and (2) as no such positive action had been taken before the delivery of the counterclaim, the counter-claim so far as compensation was claimed must necessarily fail.

Reaching the conclusion that we did we should, I think, have required TECO to amend their reply so as to raise the equitable defence which they had successfully advanced in their arguments. Unfortunately we did not do so.

In the course of his judgment Somervell, L.J. had dropped the hint that nine months might be a reasonable time after which compensation would be payable and on the 11th September, 1950, T.M.M.C. issued the writ in the present action claiming compensation from the 1st January, 1947. By pararaph 4 of their Defence TECO pleaded as follows: —

4. In or about March, 1943, and on an occasion prior thereto which the Defendants cannot now more particularly specify, the Plaintiffs agreed to forgo the payment of compensation by the Defendants until a reasonable time should elapse after notice given by the Plaintiffs to the Defendants to resume such payment. No such notice has been given to the Defendants. Alternatively, if such notice has been given to the Defendants, a reasonable time thereafter had not elapsed by 1st January, 1947, or by any date during the currency of the 1938 Deeds.

They do not now allege that if the counterclaim was a sufficient notice, the action was brought prematurely.

In paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Defence they allege in the alternative that clause 5 of the Agreement of the 2nd April, 1938, was invalid either (a)as being an unreasonable and unnecessary restraint of TECO's trade, or (b) as being a penalty not recoverable at law, or (c) as offending against section 38 (1) (a) of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907.

On the 16th November, 1953, Pearson, J. rejected all these defences and gave the judgment for T.M.M.C., the effect of which I have already indicated.

He dealt first with the allegation of unreasonable restraint of trade and rejected it on the ground that the compensation clause did not contain any restraint of trade but that even if it did, the provisions of the agreement and licence as a whole were reasonable both as between the parties and in relation to the public interest.

He rejected the penalty argument because, as he found, no penalty was involved.

He also held that clause 5 did not infringe section 38 of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907. I shall return to this subject later.

On the question of the sufficiency of the notice to determine the temporary arrangement, he summarised his conclusion as follows: —

The result of these cases (Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Company 2 A.C. 439; Birmingham and District Land Company v. London and North Western Railway Company 40 Ch. D. p. 268; Central London Property Trust Limited v. High Trees House Limited [1947] 1 K.B. 130] in my opinion is that, where the rule of equity applies, the period of suspension comes to an end when it is in all the circumstances equitable that it should come to an end, and that is, normally at any rate, according to the circumstances, either at or within a reasonable time after the termination of the state of affairs which is the cause or basis of the suspension. It is not necessary that the person whose legal rights have been suspended should give a notice purporting to terminate the suspension, although of course it would be fair and reasonable and advisable for him to do so.

In this case the state of affairs which was the cause or basis of the suspension would have been, according to the view taken in the court of first instance in the former action, the continuance of the negotiations for new licensing arrangements, but according to the view of the Court of Appeal the state of affairs was, I think, the attitude of T.M.M.C. in not requiring payment of the compensation for the time being. When that attitude was reversed, a reasonable time for resumption of compensation payments began to run. The making of the counterclaim in the first action clearly involved a reversal of the previous attitude, and therefore it started running a reasonable time for resumption of compensation payments.

TECO appealed to the Court of Appeal, who allowed the appeal. Romer, L.J., in whose judgment Somervell, L.J. and Birkett, L.J. concurred, agreed with Pearson, J. on the issues of unreasonable restraint of trade and penalty and agreed provisionally with his conclusion on the issue arising under section 38 of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907, but stated that he did not necessarily agree with all the reasoning upon which that conclusion was founded. On the question of the issue as to the sufficiency of the notice to terminate the temporary arrangement for suspension of compensation payment the Court of Appeal differed from Pearson, J. and accordingly reversed his order and entered judgment for TECO with costs.

My Lords, Romer, L.J. based his conclusion on the notice point mainly on the decision of the Privy Council in Canadian Pacific Railway v. The King [I931] A.C. 414. He said: "In my opinion, although in many cases the equity, to which Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Company gave recognition and high authority, is satisfied by merely conforming to the terms in which Lord Cairns (and subsequently Lord Justice Bowen) formulated  it, there are other cases where justice requires that the resumption of legal rights which have been suspended for a period must be preceded by a notification to the other party concerned specifying a fixed period of grace during which that party can put his house in order; and that in such cases a notification such as that will be a condition precedent to the valid reassumption of the owner's legal rights.

Such a case was Canadian Pacific Railway v. The King [1931] Appeal Cases, page 414".

I must, therefore, examine closely what were the facts and what was the reason for the decision in the case last cited. The Canadian Pacific Railway had erected poles carrying telegraph wires on the roadway of a Canadian Government railway at various times ranging from 1888 to 1911. There were some negotiations between the parties as to parts of the telegraph line but at no time was any written agreement ever concluded. As to what was called the main telegraph line there was correspondence in the course of which a representative of the Department of Justice of Canada wrote on the 20th March, 1924, withdrawing offers which had been made for settling the dispute between the parties and saying that wires and poles must be removed. The letter ended: No time has been fixed within which you must effect this removal, but unless you agree to act at once in the matter, a date will be fixed by the Department of Railways and Canals. No such date was fixed nor were the wires and poles ever removed from any section of the telegraph line. Accordingly in 1926 the Crown commenced proceedings against the Canadian Pacific Railway alleging trespass and claiming damages. The trial judge found that as to the whole line the telegraph poles were on the Crown land by the leave and licence of the Crown but that the licence was not irrevocable. He gave leave to apply for further directions. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada that Court found that the Canadian Pacific Railway were trespassers except as to a small section as to which they had an irrevocable licence. The Privy Council agreed with the trial judge that as to the whole line the Canadian Pacific Railway had a revocable licence, and held that it had not been determined before the commencement of the proceedings. The Board then proceeded to consider how that revocable licence could be determined.

Upon the facts of the case their Lordships were unable to find any foundation for the application of any equitable doctrine in favour of the Canadian Pacific Railway nor were they able to see anything upon which to found an estoppel (see p. 430). They went on to say, at p. 432: Whether any and what restrictions exist on the power of a licensor to determine a revocable licence must, their Lordships think, depend upon the circumstances of each case. The general proposition would appear to be that a licensee whose licence is revocable is entitled to reasonable notice of revocation. They then proceeded to examine the facts of the particular case and came to the conclusion that it was peculiarly a case in which grave injustice might ensue if the Crown were at liberty by the mere initiation of legal proceedings to determine summarily the rights of the appellant, and turn the appellant's occupancy into trespass. For the appellant is not the only one concerned; the telegraph line is part of a system in the existence and continuance of which the public has a very considerable interest. They accordingly concluded that the case was one in which the licence could only be effectively ended after notice had been served upon the Canadian Pacific Railway to determine the licence on such a specified date in the future, as would give the Canadian Pacific Railway an interval of time between the service of the notice and the specified date sufficient not only to allow the removal of the poles and wires but also to make arrangements for the continuance of the telegraph line on another site.

My Lords, I have, I think, sufficiently stated the circumstances to indicate the very considerable differences between this case and the case now before your Lordships. In the Canadian Pacific Railway case the Crown had, at any rate, as regards one section, expressly stated they would name a date by which the poles and wires must be removed. Moreover, a paramount public interest was involved. In these circumstances I cannot see that the facts are so analogous that the decision can be safely taken as a sure guide in the present case.

The Canadian Pacific Railway case was considered by the Court of Appeal in Minister of Health v. Bellotti [1944] I K.B. 298, where Lord Greene, M.R. said that the only proposition of general application which he could extract from the Canadian Pacific Railway case was to be found in the paragraph I have already cited, which reads : " Whether any and what restrictions exist on the power of a licensor to determine a revocable licence must, their Lordships think, depend upon the circumstances of each case. With that observation of the then Master of the Rolls I respectfully agree.

Before I turn to the circumstances of the present case, I must observe that the Canadian Pacific Railway case was not determined on equitable principles. Indeed, Lord Russell of Killowen, in delivering the judgment of the Board, expressly pointed out that no equitable doctrine was involved. It is no doubt true, as Mr. Beyfus argued, that any condition or restriction affecting the power to determine a revocable licence which the law would imply would be one which equity would regard as reasonable, but before reaching a conclusion on the matter it seems desirable to look at the two cases relied upon by the Court of Appeal in the first action as laying down the principles applicable to the case.

In Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Company 2A.C. 439 the Respondents sought to recover possession of premises for breach of a lessee's covenant to repair within six months after notice calling up him to do so. That notice had been given on the 22nd October, 1874, but in December negotiations started between the parties for the purchase by the appellant of the respondents' interest. These did not break down until the 31st December 1874. On the 28th April, 1875, the writ in the action was issued. The repairs were completed some time in June. The question arose whether, having regard to the negotiations, they had been completed within due time. It was held in this House that the negotiations had the effect of suspending the notice and that the suspension did not cease to operate until the 31st December, 1874. In the course of his judgment Lord Cairns stated the equitable principle involved in these words: It was not argued at your Lordships' Bar, and it could not be argued, that there was any right of a Court of Equity, or any practice of a Court of Equity, to give relief in cases of this kind, by way of mercy, or by way merely of saving property from forfeiture, but it is the first principle upon which all Courts of Equity proceed, that if parties who have entered into definite and distinct terms involving certain legal results—certain penalties or legal forfeiture—afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiation which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict rights arising under the contract will not be enforced, or will be kept in suspense, or held in abeyance, the person who otherwise might have enforced those rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have thus taken place between the parties.

In Birminghamand District Land Company v. Londonand North Western Railway Company 40 Ch. D. 268 a similar question arose and the Court of Appeal applied the principle as laid down by Lord Cairns in the passage I have quoted. After citing it Bowen, L.J. pointed out that it had nothing to do with forfeiture and went on: It seems to me to amount to this, that if persons who have contractual rights against others induce by their conduct those against whom they have such rights to believe that such rights will either not be enforced or will be kept in suspense or abeyance for some particular time, those persons will not be allowed by a Court of Equity to enforce the rights until such time has elapsed, without at all events placing the parties in the same position as they were before. That is the principle to be applied. I will not say it is not a principle that was recognised by Courts of Law as well as of Equity. It is not necessary to consider how far it was always a principle of common law. Though he does not, in terms, say so, it is implicit in what he says that to make the principle applicable the party setting up the doctrine must show that he has acted on the belief induced by the other party, but this factor is of no importance in the instant case as it has been decided in the first action that the principle is applicable. Does this principle afford a defence to the claim in the present action?

I have already stated the findings of the Court of Appeal in the first action as to the circumstances which brought the equity into operation. These findings necessarily involve that in the present case equity required T.M.M.C. to give some form of notice to TECO before compensation would become payable. But it has never been decided that in every case notice should be given before a temporary concession ceases to operate. It might, for instance, cease automatically on the occurrence of a particular event. Still less has any case decided that where notice is necessary it must take a particular form.

Romer, L.J. seems to have taken the view that the counterclaim could not be a notice because you cannot terminate an agreement by repudiating it. With all respect, the fallacy of this argument consists in treating the arrangement found to exist by the Court of Appeal in the first action as an agreement binding in law. It was not an agreement, it was a voluntary concession by T.M.M.C. which, for reasons of equity, the Court held T.M.M.C. could not cease to allow without plain intimation to TECO of their intention so to do. The counterclaim seems to me a plain intimation of such change of intention operating as from the 1st June, 1945, and for the future. None the less, the intimation would fall short of what was required if it was the duty of T.M.M.C. to specify in the intimation the reasonable time which they would allow after receipt of the intimation to enable TECO to readjust their business to the altered conditions. I see no reason why equity should impose this burden on T.M.M.C. Having regard to the nature of the concession—a mere cessation of money payments —and to the fact that TECO were the only persons in a position to judge what time would reasonably be required to make such adjustments as were necessary, I think that TECO were sufficiently protected by the fact that if T.M.M.C. commenced proceedings before what the Court should determine to be a reasonable time, the action would fail. I agree, therefore, in substance with Pearson, J. on this part of the case.

On the questions of unreasonable restraint of trade and penalty I find myself in complete agreement with Romer, L.J. and I do not desire to add anything to the reasons given by him and by your Lordships for rejecting these defences.

I turn therefore to the question whether clause 5 of the agreement offends against section 38 of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907. I had written some lengthy observations on this question, but since doing so I have had the opportunity of reading in print the observations of my noble and learned friend, Lord Oaksey. I find myself so completely in agreement with him that I will add no reasons of my own for rejecting this defence.

For the reasons I have given, I would allow the appeal and restore the order of Pearson J.


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