Spring v National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers Society (No 2) – Case Summary

Spring v National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers Society (No 2)

Chancery Court of Lancaster

Citations: [1956] 1 WLR 585; [1956] 2 All ER 221; [1956] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 331; (1956) 100 SJ 401; [1956] CLY 8838.


The defendant was an affiliate society of the Trades Union Congress (‘TUC’). TUC revised their terms for dispute avoidance between affiliates and transferring members between unions. This was known as the ‘Bridlington Agreement’.

The defendant then admitted the claimant as a member in a region where another union had formerly had a monopoly. Arbitration ensued, and the arbitral award required the defendant exclude people like the claimant from their membership.

The claimant sought a declaration that this expulsion was ultra vires, illegal and void. The defendant relied on a supposed implied term in their contract with the claimant. This term would allow the defendant to take any action needed to comply with lawful and proper third-party agreements – particularly the Bridlington Agreement.

  1. Did the defendant’s purported implied term exist in the parties’ contract?

The court held in favour of the claimant and granted the declaration. The arbitral award only required the defendant to make lawful exclusions, and it was not lawful for them to exclude the claimant. The terms of the Bridlington Agreement could not be implied into the parties’ contract, particularly as the claimant was not aware of them at the time he became a member of the defendant.

This Case is Authority For…

The court will not imply a term in fact unless the parties would have thought the term went without saying if asked about it at the time of contracting. This is unlikely to be the case where one party has never heard of the subject matter of the proposed term.