Broome v DPP [1973] UKHL 5 (20 December 1973)

BROOME

v.

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS

(ON APPEAL FROM A DIVISIONAL COURT

OF THE QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION).

Lord Reid
Lord Morris of Borth-y Gest
Lord Hodson
Viscount Dilhorne
Lord Salmon

Lord Reid

MY LORDS,

On 3rd October, 1972, the Justices of the County Borough of Stockport
dismissed an information laid against the Appellant that he, on 5th
September, 1972, without lawful authority or excuse wilfully did obstruct the
free passage along Short Street, a highway, contrary to section 121 of the
Highways Act, 1959. On appeal to a Divisional Court their decision was
set aside and the case remitted with a direction to convict. The Appellant
now seeks to have the decision of the Justices restored.

The case for the Appellant is that he did have lawful authority or excuse
for the obstruction with which he was charged. He says that what he did was
authorised by section 134 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1971.

That section is in these terms: —

” 134.—(1) The provisions of this section shall have effect where one
” or more persons (in this section referred to as ‘ pickets’), in contem-
” plation or furtherance of an industrial dispute, attend at or near—

” (a) a place where a person works or carries on business, or

” (b) any other place where a person happens to be, not being a place
” where he resides, and do so only for the purpose of peacefully
” obtaining information from him or peacefully communicating
” information to him or peacefully persuading him to work or not
” to work.

” (2) In the circumstances specified in the preceding subsection, the
” attendance of the pickets at that place for that purpose—

” (a) shall not of itself constitute an offence under section 7 of the
” Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875 (penalty for
” intimidation or annoyance by violence or otherwise) or under any
” other enactment or rule of law, and

” (b) shall not of itself constitute a tort.”

The facts are set out in the Case Stated by the Justices:

” (a) On 5th September, 1972, there was in progress a nationwide
” building workers strike. On that day one Ronald Dickinson, a driver,
” called at a building site and was accosted by the respondent who was
” a trade union official. The respondent tried to dissuade Dickinson
” from entering the site, but it transpired that Dickinson was at the
” wrong site so he departed in his lorry for the correct site, which was
” in Short Street, and told the respondent of his intention. The res-
” pondent took a short cut to Short Street, (b) In Short Street the
” respondent held out a poster and asked Dickinson to draw into the
” side of the road which he did. In a brief conversation the respondent
” tried to dissuade Dickinson from entering the site for which his load
” was Intended. He failed in his first attempt to persuade Dickinson
” to go away with his load. Dickinson manoeuvred his lorry to drive
” into the site. The respondent stood in front of the lorry with his
” poster, still shouting in an attempt to persuade Dickinson to refrain
” from delivering his load. Dickinson did not attempt to drive into the
” respondent but asked him to move. He did not move.

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(c) The appellant—a police inspector—arrived and spoke to
” Dickinson. He then told the respondent that Dickinson wanted
” to enter the site and the respondent said that he did not want
” Dickinson to enter the site. The appellant told the respondent
” that if he did not move he would be arrested. The defendant
” did not move and was immediately arrested.

” (d) Throughout the whole incident there were no angry words
” or violent actions. It was a peaceful picket. The whole incident
” in Short Street lasted only at the very most for nine minutes.
” At all material times the respondent was on the highway.”

The Justices’ reason for dismissing the information is set out in the Case
Stated.

“We were of opinion that a period of nine minutes at most
” interspersed with manoeuvring of the lorry and intervention by the
” police was not an unreasonably long time for the respondent to spend
” in exercising his statutory right peacefully to seek to persuade a person
” not to work and that his statutory right is meaningless unless the
” picket places himself in such a position that the person to be
” persuaded is obliged to stop and listen for a reasonable length of time
” and accordingly we dismissed the case.”

It is therefore necessary to examine carefully the terms of section 134.
The section was new in form but the matter had been dealt with in at least
two earlier statutes. The Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act, 1875,
conferred great benefits on Trade Unions and their members, but section 7
created a number of new offences. It provided inter alia that ” Every person
” who, with a view to compel any other person to abstain from doing or
” to do any act which such other person has a legal right to do or abstain

” from doing, wrongfully and without legal authority,— (4) Watches

” or besets the house or other place where such other person resides, or
” works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to such
“house or place” commits an offence. But the section also contains a
provision:

” Attending at or near the house or place where a person resides, or
” works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to
“such house or place, in order merely to obtain or communicate
” information, shall not be deemed a watching or besetting within the
” meaning of this section “.

The latter provision regarding attending was repealed by the Trade
Disputes Act, 1906, and there was substituted for it by section 2(1):

” It shall be lawful for one or more persons, acting on their own
” behalf or on behalf of a trade union or of an individual employer
” or firm in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, to attend
” at or near a house or place where a person resides or works or carries
” on business or happens to be, if they so attend merely for the purpose
” of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or of peacefully
” persuading any person to work or abstain from working “.

This subsection was repealed by the Act of 1971 so that section 134 of that
Act is now the only provision dealing with this particular matter. I do
not know why the provision in the 1906 Act was completely redrafted and
I get little if any assistance from the fact that the provision has been given
a new form. We were referred to a number of cases decided before 1971 but
I can deal with them briefly because most of them do not deal with the
question which your Lordships now have to decide.

In JLyons & Sons v. Wilkins [1899] 1 Ch. 255 there had been watching
and besetting to such an extent as to create a nuisance. The purpose was
peaceful persuasion. But it was held that attendance deemed by the last
part of section 7 of the 1875 Act not to be a watching and besetting only
included attendance for the purpose of obtaining or communicating

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information and did not include attendance for the purpose of peaceful
persuasion. It may have been this decision which caused peaceful persuasion
to be expressly mentioned in section 2 of the 1906 Act.

In Ward Lock & Co. v. Operative Printers (1906) 22 T.L.R. 327 it was held
that section 7 of the 1875 Act: “legalises nothing and it renders nothing
” wrongful that was not so before. Its object is solely to visit certain selected
” classes of acts which were previously wrongful, i.e., were at least civil torts,
” with penal consequences capable of being summarily inflicted.” (per
Moulton L.J. at p. 329).

We were referred to several Irish cases. They contain much interesting
information but hardly touch the present question. Lowdens v. Keaveney
[1903] 2 I.R 82 arose out of a prosecution for wilfully preventing and inter-
rupting the free passage of persons in a public street. There had been a
procession with a band playing. It was held to be a question of fact and
degree whether such a use of the street was reasonable.

” No body of men has a right to appropriate the highway and exclude
” other citizens from using it. The question whether user is reasonable or
” not is a question of fact to be determined by common sense with regard to
” ordinary experience “. (per Gibson J. at p. 90).

Ferguson v. O’Gorman (1937) I.R. 620 dealt with trespass on the highway.
I need only quote a short passage from the judgment of Sullivan C.J. at
p. 648.

” The usual approach to a residence or place of business is by a public
” highway and unless the right to attend at or near a residence or place of
” business is a right to attend on a public highway I do not see how such right
” can be exercised at all, consistently with the decisions in Larkin’s case and
” McCusker’s case that private property may not be invaded. I am, therefore,
” driven to the conclusion that sect. 2 of the Trade Disputes Act authorises the
” user of a highway by the persons and for the purposes described in that
” section, and that it therefore justifies a user of the highway which would
” constitute a trespass at common law. Whether the user proved in any
” particular case is such a user as can be justified under the section will
” depend on the particular circumstances, including the acts and conduct of
” the alleged trespassers.”

In Tynan v. Balmer [1967] 1 Q.B. 91 the facts were nearer to those of the
present case. Some 40 pickets assembled and kept walking around on the
roadway. Widgery J. having referred to section 2 of the 1906 Act said:

” The recorder has found as a fact that the pickets in this case were
” not attending merely for the purposes described in the section. He
” has found as a fact that their object at any rate in part was to seal
” off the highway and to cause vehicles approaching the premises to
” stop. In my judgment that finding of fact is quite enough to require
” this court to say that as a matter of law the recorder’s judgment in
” this case should be upheld.”

Lord Parker C.J. said that counsel had conceded that no right was conferred
of stopping a pedestrian. That concession was not made in the present case.
Then Lord Parker continued: ” but he suggested that when you get to a
” vehicle the section authorised and permitted the stopping of vehicles. I
” am quite unable to accept that argument, and on the findings of the
” recorder in this case I am quite clear that an offence was committed.”

Returning to section 134 I see no reason to construe it in any other than
the usual way. One takes the ordinary and natural meaning of the words
and applies that meaning. Subsection (2) is the operative provision. It
enacts that conduct described in subsection (1) shall not of itself constitute
an offence under any enactment. So if the Appellant is to be convicted
it must be shewn that his conduct at the place where the alleged offence was
committed exceeded any conduct to which the terms of subsection (1) can
apply.

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His attendance there is only made lawful by subsection (2) if he attended
only for the purpose of obtaining or communicating information or ” peace-
” fully persuading ” the lorry driver. Attendance for that purpose must I think
include the right to try to persuade anyone who chooses to stop and listen, at
least in so far as this is done in a reasonable way with due consideration for
the rights of others. A right to attend for the purpose of peaceful per-
suasion would be meaningless unless this were implied.

But I see no ground for implying any right to require the person whom it is
sought to persuade to submit to any kind of constraint or restriction of
his personal freedom. One is familiar with persons at the side of a road
signalling to a driver requesting him to stop. It is then for the driver to
decide whether he will stop or not. That, in my view, a picket is entitled
to do. If the driver stops, the picket can talk to him but only for so long
as the driver is willing to listen.

That must be so because if the picket had a statutory right to stop or to
detain the driver that must necessarily imply that the Act has imposed on
those passing along the road a statutory duty to stop or to remain for
longer than they chose to stay. So far as my recollection goes it would be
unique for Parliament to impose such a duty otherwise than by express
words, and even if one envisages the possibility of such a duty being imposed
by implication the need for it would have to be crystal clear. Here I can
see no need at all for any such implication.

Without the protection of the section merely inviting a driver to stop and
then, if he were willing to stop and listen, proceeding to try to persuade him
not to go on, would in many cases be either an offence or a tort or both,
particular if more than a very few pickets were acting together. I see no
reason to hold that the section confers any other right.

The Justices speak of the Appellant’s ” statutory right peacefully to seek to
” persuade “. That is not an accurate or adequate statement of the pro-
visions of the section. And their further statement that ” his statutory
” right is meaningless unless the picket places himself in such a position
” that the person to be persuaded is obliged to stop and listen for a
” reasonable length of time ” is for the reasons I have given wholly erroneous.

There was a suggestion that if a picket does not have a right to stop a
driver or pedestrian the same result could be obtained lawfully by a large
number of pickets gathering at (he same place and doing nothing. The
Section does not limit the number of pickets and no limitation of numbers
can be implied. So if a large number assemble it will not be physically
possible in many cases for a driver or pedestrian to proceed.

But if a picket has a purpose beyond those set out in the section then his
presence becomes unlawful and in many cases such as I have supposed it
would not be difficult to infer as a matter of fact that pickets who assemble in
unreasonably large numbers do have the purpose of preventing free passage.
If that were the proper inference then their presence on the highway would
become unlawful. Tynan’s case (cit. supra.) is a good example of this.

In this case it was not and could not reasonably be maintained that, if
the law is as I have stated it, any other conclusion is possible than that
the Appellant committed the offence with which he has been charged.

I would therefore dismiss this appeal.
Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest

MY LORDS,

Section 121 of the Highways Act, 1959, provides that if a person without
lawful authority or excuse in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage

5

along a highway he shall be guilty of an offence. The Appellant was
charged with that offence. On the facts as found it is beyond question and
it is acknowledged that he did obstruct the free passage along a highway.
Furthermore, he did so wilfully. So the only question is whether he did so
without lawful authority or excuse.

Within the meaning of section 134 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1971,
the Appellant as a ” picket” attended at or near a place where Mr. Dickin-
son, while driving his lorry, happened to be. He so attended in contempla-
tion or furtherance of an industrial dispute. Having held out a poster he
asked Mr. Dickinson to draw in to the side of the road. Mr. Dickinson did
so. A brief conversation followed. The Appellant tried to persuade Mr.
Dickinson to go away with his load. The persuasion failed. Mr. Dickinson
then manoeuvred his lorry to drive in to the building site to which he wanted
to go. The Appellant stood in front of the lorry and continued his attempt
to persuade Mr. Dickinson to refrain from delivering his load. Mr. Dickin-
son asked him to move but he would not. After the arrival of the police
inspector the Appellant stated that he did not want Mr. Dickinson to carry
out his wish to drive in to the building site. So the Appellant continued
(until he was arrested) to refuse to move out of Mr. Dickinson’s path. Mr.
Dickinson was clearly prevented from proceeding.

As the Appellant wilfully obstructed the free passage along a highway he
was guilty of the offence charged if the obstruction was ” without lawful
” authority or excuse”. Do the provisions of section 134 provide such
authority or excuse? Applying the wording of subsection (2) of the section, if
the attendance of the Appellant was attendance ” in the circumstances
” specified in the preceding subsection ” then such attendance would not
” of itself ” constitute an offence under any enactment. Turning to subsection
(1) the attendance of the Appellant would have been attendance “in the
” circumstances specified” in that subsection if his attendance had been
” only for the purpose of peacefully obtaining information from [Mr. Dickin-
” son] or peacefully communicating information to [Mr. Dickinson] or peace-
” fully persuading [Mr. Dickinson] to work or not to work “. But on the
facts as found it is manifest that the Appellant’s purpose was not ” only ”
for any such purpose. He did not have ” only ” the purpose of peacefully
persuading Mr. Dickinson not to work as he [Mr. Dickinson] wished to work:
the Appellant had the further purpose, which in fact he carried out, of
requiring and compelling Mr. Dickinson to stop and of detaining him against
his will.

On behalf of the Appellant it is contended that the Appellant did have
both a right to stop Mr. Dickinson and also a right to detain him for a period
which would be reasonably adequate for the deployment of persuasive
powers. I can see no warrant at all for such a contention. Mr. Dickinson
having first been willing to stop was constrained thereafter to stop because
the Appellant refused to move: apart from the circumstances which were
forced upon him Mr. Dickinson had otherwise no need to stop and he owed
no duty to listen and the Appellant had no right to require him to do either
of these.

It is further contended on behalf of the Appellant that the statutory
immunity given by section 134 to the attendance of pickets would be some-
what barren if it did not extend to such of the accompanying incidents
of an attendance as might in the circumstances of a particular case be held
by a Court as a matter of fact to have been reasonable in furtherance of
the purpose to be achieved. But this would involve reading into the section
words which are not there. Furthermore, it would introduce a considerable
element of most undesirable uncertainty. Parliament has been careful
expressly to limit the conferred immunity to attendance ” of itself ” and to
attendance which is ” only ” for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or
communicating information or of peacefully persuading to work or not to
work.

I would dismiss the appeal.

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Lord Hodson

For the reasons given by my noble and learned friend, Viscount Dilhorne,
I agree that this appeal should be dismissed.

Viscount Dilhorne

MY LORDS,

By virture of section 121 of the Highways Act, 1959, it is made an offence
for any person without lawful authority or excuse in any way wilfully to
obstruct the free passage along the highway. The Appellant was charged
with the commission of this offence in Short Street, Stockport, on the 5th
of September, 1972.

There was then a nation-wide building workers’ strike. The Appellant, a
Trade Union official, was at a building site to which a Mr. Dickinson, the
driver of a lorry, came. The Appellant spoke to him and tried to persuade
him not to drive on to the site. Dickinson had come to the wrong site, and
left to go to his correct destination, a site in Short Street. He told the
Appellant where he was going.

When Dickinson got to Short Street he found the Appellant there. The
Appellant held out a poster and asked Dickinson to draw in to the side of
the road, which Dickinson did. The Appellant tried to persuade him not
to go on to the site but his attempt failed and Dickinson manoeuvred his
lorry to drive it on to the site. The Appellant then stood in front of the
lorry with his poster, shouting at Dickinson in an attempt, so the Justices
found, to persuade him not to drive on to the site. Dickinson asked him
lo move. He did not. A police inspector then came on the scene. After
conversation with Dickinson the inspector told the Appellant that
Dickinson wanted to enter the site. The Appellant then said he did not
want Dickinson to do so. The Inspector told the Appellant that if he did
not move, he would be arrested and, as he did not move, he was arrested.

It was conceded that the Appellant should have been convicted of the
offence with which he was charged unless he had lawful authority or excuse
for obstructing the highway.

Such lawful authority or excuse was, it was contended, to be found in
section 134 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1971. That section reads as
follows:

” 134(1). The provisions of this section shall have effect where one
” or more persons (in this section referred to as ‘ pickets’), in con-
” templation or furtherance of an industrial dispute, attend at or
” near—

‘ (a) a place where a person works or carries on business, or

” (b) any other place where a person happens to be, not being a place
” where he resides,

” and do so only for the purpose of peacefully obtaining information
” from him, or peacefully communicating information to him or peace-
” fully persuading him to work or not to work.

” (2) In the circumstances specified in the preceding subsection the
” attendance of the pickets at that place for that purpose—

” (a) shall not of itself constitute an offence under section 7 of the
” Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875 (penalty for
” intimidation or annoyance by violence or otherwise) or under
” any other enactment or rule of law, and

” (b) shall not of itself constitute a tort.”

I regard the language of this section as clear and unambiguous. It does
not confer any right on any picket to stop anyone or to stop any vehicle

7

in order to try to persuade persons not to work. It is only the attendance
which of itself is not to be criminal or a tort if in contemplation or further-
ance of a trade dispute and if only for a specified purpose.

It was, however, contended that unless the section is interpreted as
meaning that a picket has the right to stop vehicles and persons in order
to speak to the drivers and persons stopped, the section is meaningless;
and it was argued that, to give effect, it must be interpreted as giving
the pickets the right to stop persons in order to have the opportunity to
persuade them.

I do not take this view. It is not, in my opinion, a tenable one. The
section permits attendance for the specified purposes when, but for its
provisions, such attendance might be criminal or tortious. It expressly
says in subsection 2(a) that such attendance is not of itself to constitute an
offence under section 7 of the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act,
1875, that is to say, among other things, intimidation.

That cannot, in my opinion, have been expressly provided unless it was
thought that, but for this section, a large number of persons attending for
one of the specified purposes might be convicted as the result of mere
attendance of one of the offences created by that section. Attendance by
one or more persons on a highway must inevitably cause some obstruction
of the free passage along the highway and were it not for section 134 the
Appellant would, by attending for the purpose of persuading Dickinson not
to do what he was employed to do, undoubtedly have committed an offence
against section 121 of the Highways Act, 1959.

Even if it were meaningless, I can see no ground for giving it the wide
interpretation for which the Appellant contends. To do so would be going
far beyond the task of judicial interpretation and amount to legislating
for there is nothing in the section which suggests or implies that any right
to stop persons is to be given to pickets. If Parliament had intended to
have given them the right to stop persons and vehicles, it would have been
easy so to provide. To read that into the section means reading in a
great deal which is not there. Parliament has not said that pickets attending
for one of the specified purposes must have the opportunity of exercising their
persuasive powers, only that they can attend for the specified purposes.
To give pickets the right to stop persons and vehicles would involve a
restriction of the lawful exercise of other persons’ rights ; and even if it
were the case that the section as it stands is meaningless, it would, in my
opinion, be wholly wrong in the absence of any indication that it was
Parliament’s intention, to interpret the section so as to give the effect sought
at the expense of other people’s rights.

Section 7 of the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act, 1875, made
it an offence in certain circumstances to ” watch or beset” but went on
expressly to provide that attending in order merely to obtain or communicate
information was not to be deemed watching or besetting within the meaning
of the section. Here, again, it was attendance for a particular purpose which
was protected.

In JLyons & Son Ltd. v. Wilkins [1899] 1 Ch. 255 Chitty L.J. said at
p. 271 that attending in order to persuade was not attending ” in order merely
” to obtain or communicate information “. Why he expressed that view is
not, I must confess, altogether clear to me.

In the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, it was expressely provided that attendant
to persuade peacefully any person to work or abstain from working was
protected. By that Act it was again attendance for the named purposes that
was protected.

Section 2 of the Act states that attendance coming within the section ” shall
” be lawful ” ; section 134 of the 1971 Act that it shall not of itself constitute
an offence or a tort. I do not think that this change of language involves
any change of meaning.

8

Although since 1875 attendance for a specified purpose has been protected.
the Appellant’s counsel, in the course of an able argument, was unable to cite
any case which suggests or tends to suggest that the sections of the statutes
conferred any right on pickets to stop and interfere with the exercise by other
persons of their lawful rights.

Section 134 makes it clear beyond all doubt that the attendance is protected
only if it is for one or more of the specified purposes. If the attendance is
for any other purpose, the section gives no protection. If the attendance is
for one of the specified purposes and also for another purpose, for instance,
to try to persuade a person not to go to work and, if the persuasion fails, to
stop him from doing so, then the section does not apply for the attendance
to come within the section must be only for the named purposes. Pickets
wishing to persuade may invite persons and vehicles to stop to hear what
they have to say. They have no right to compel them to do so, and if they
seek to exercise compulsion, then they lose the protection of the section.

In this case the Appellant stepped into the roadway and refused to move
when asked, and until arrested prevented Dickinson from driving his lorry on
to the site. He had no right to do that and should have been convicted of
the offence with which he was charged.

It may be that unless the right to picket includes and extends to stopping
people against their will, pickets will be unable to exercise their powers of
persuasion as they wish. However this may be, the law is, in my opinion.
clear and section 134 of the 1971 Act does not, nor did the Act of 1906 or
the Act of 1875 give them the right to do so.

In my opinion, this appeal should be dismissed.

Lord Salmon

MY LORDS,

This appeal raises a short but important question concerning the true
meaning and effect of section 134 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1971. On
this point of pure construction, I confess that I can find little real help in the
legislative history of the enactment or in the interesting cases which were
reviewed in the Divisional Court.

On 3rd October, 1972, the Justices for the County Borough of Stockport
found Mr. J. E. Broome, a trade union official, not guilty of wilfully
obstructing a highway without lawful authority or excuse contrary to
section 121 of the Highways Act, 1959. From that decision, the prosecutor
Mr. C. W. Hunt, a Police Inspector, appealed by way of Case Stated to the
Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division. The Divisional Court
allowed the appeal, sent the case back to the Justices with a direction to
convict and gave Mr. Broome leave to appeal to your Lordships’ House after
certifying the following to be a point of law of general public importance:—

“Whether if a person attends on the highway for the purposes set
” out in section 134(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1971 and deliber-
” ately stops a vehicle for the purposes of peacefully persuading the driver
” not to work he has a defence to a charge under section 121 of the
” Highways Act 1959 by reason of section 134(2)(b) of the Industrial
“Relations Act 1971 “.

The facts found by the Justices were as follows:— On 5th September.
1972, a national building workers’ strike was in progress. On that day a
man called Ronald Dickinson wished to drive a loaded lorry on to a building
site adjoining the highway in Short Street, Stockport. When the lorry was
approaching close to the site, Mr. Broome held out a poster and asked Mr.
Dickinson to draw into the side of the road. Mr. Dickinson did so. Mr.
Broome tried but failed to persuade Mr. Dickinson to drive his lorry away

9

from the site. Mr. Dickinson then manoeuvred the lorry into position so as
to drive it on to the building site but Mr. Broome stood in front of the lorry
blocking its path and still attempting to persuade Mr. Dickinson not to
deliver his load. Mr. Dickinson asked Mr. Broome to move out of the
lorry’s way. Mr. Broome, however, stood his ground. Unless Mr. Broome
moved out of the way Mr. Dickinson could not drive on to the site without
running him over. The prosecutor who came to the scene told Mr. Broome
that the lorry driver wanted to enter the site, as indeed must have been
obvious. Mr. Broome replied that he did not want the lorry driver to enter
the site, as was equally obvious. The prosecutor then told Mr. Broome
that if he did not move out of the lorry’s path he would be arrested. He
did not move and he was arrested. Later he was charged before the Justices
under section 121 of the Highways Act, 1959, and acquitted. The Justices
were of the opinion that: —

” a period of nine minutes at most interspersed with manoeuvering
” of the lorry and intervention by the Police was not an unreasonably
” long time for the Respondent to spend in exercising his statutory right
” peacefully to seek to persuade a person not to work and his statutory
” right is meaningless unless the picket places himself in such a position
” that the person to be persuaded is obliged to stop and listen for a
” reasonable length of time and accordingly we dismissed the case.”

In your Lordships’ House it has been conceded that Mr. Broome has no
defence to the charge under the Highways Act unless he can successfully
claim immunity under section 134 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1971.
That section is fully set out in the speeches of my noble and learned friends,
Lord Reid and Viscount Dilhorne.

The Justices seem to have construed the section as conferring a right to
stop anyone on the highway against his will and to compel him to listen to
persuasion. If this is the true meaning of the section, it follows that it
imposes a corresponding obligation upon anyone to stop and listen to
persuasion whether or not he wishes to do so. It is argued that otherwise the
section is meaningless and of no effect. My Lords, I can find no justification
of any kind for such a construction. It involves reading words into the
section which are not there and which, if they were, would seriously diminish
the liberty of the subject. Everyone has the right to use the highway free
from the risk of being compulsorily stopped by any private citizen and
compelled to listen to what he does not want to hear. No doubt it is
permissible, either by words or signs, to ask any man to stop on the highway
and then to ask him to listen to what you have to say. He is free, however,
to stop or go on as he pleases. If he does stop and then decides that he
does not wish to listen or that he has heard enough, he cannot be compelled
to stay. The Act of 1971 certainly does not expressly confer any right upon
pickets to compel any man to stop upon the highway and listen to them
nor does it expressly empower any pickets to stop any man from using the
highway as a means of access to his place of work or to compel any man
to listen to persuasion which he does not want to hear. I cannot accept
that the Act confers such rights or imposes corresponding obligations by
implication. Surely if such an astonishing interference with the liberty of
the subject had been intended, the legislature would have made its
intention plain by express and unambiguous language.

My Lords, I am fortified in the conclusion I have reached by the fact
that the section has a clear and perfectly rational meaning and effect
without reading into it one word that is not there. The crucial words of the
section, particularly those I have underlined, are the following:

“… where . . . pickets in … furtherance of an industrial dispute
” . . . attend at or near …a place where a person works . . . or any

” other place where a person happens to be …. and do so only for
” the purpose of peacefully obtaining information from him or
” peacefully communicating information to him or peacefully persuading

10

” him to work or not to work . . . the attendance of the pickets at that
” place for that purpose shall not of itself constitute an offence under
” section 7 of the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875 . . .
” or under any other enactment or rule of law, and shall not of itself
” constitute a tort.”

These words make it plain that it is nothing but the attendance of the
pickets at the places specified which is protected; and then only if their
atendance is for one of the specified purposes. The section gives no
protection in respect of anything the pickets may say or do whilst they are
attending if what they say or do is itself unlawful. But for the section, the
mere attendance of pickets might constitute an offence under section 7,
subsections (2) and (4) of the Act of 1875 or under the Highways Act, 1959,
or constitute a tort, for example, nuisance. The section, therefore, gives a
narrow but nevertheless real immunity to pickets. It clearly does no more.

In the course of argument, a point was raised as to what would be the
position if a large number of pickets attended solely for the purposes specified
and, by coincidence, their very numbers prevented persons anxious to enter
a place of work from doing so. My Lords, that point does not arise for
decision on this appeal and I refrain from expressing any concluded opinion
upon it. Whether or not one of the purposes of pickets was physically to
prevent people from entering their place of work must be a question of fact
depending upon the circumstances of each particular case. The fact that
the pickets were physically preventing people from entering would, I
suppose, be some evidence that one of their purposes was to prevent entry.
Men are usually presumed to intend the natural consequences of their acts.
It may be, however, that Justices could be persuaded that the crowd of pickets
round the entrance of a factory was there solely for the purpose of peaceful
persuasion or peacefully imparting information and not at all for the purpose
which they in fact achieved, namely, prevention of entry. Everything would
depend upon the evidence and the Justices. The only point of law which
could arise upon an appeal from their decisions in such cases would be
whether there was evidence upon which any reasonable bench of Justices
could have arrived at such a decision.

As far as the present appeal is concerned, however, there is no question
but that the picket compelled Mr. Dickinson to remain stationary on the
highway against his will and deliberately prevented him from driving his
lorry towards the entrance of the building site. This, to my mind, was
about as clear a wilfull obstruction of the highway without lawful authority
or excuse as it is possible to imagine and to which section 134 (ibid) can
afford no shadow of a defence.

My Lords, I would accordingly dismiss the appeal.

 

Source: https://www.bailii.org/