Gloucester Grammar School case is a landmark case that is referred in all situations explaining the maxim Damnum sine Injuria. Hon’ble Justice Y.B Hillary’s judgement in the 1940 till today serves as a benchmark judgement explaining the point of law.
Citation: (1410) YB 11 Hen IV, fo. pl. 201, 23, f. 47, pi. 19
Facts of the Gloucester Grammar School case
The defendant was a school teacher in a school named Gloucester Grammar School. The defendant for some reason decided to quit his job as a teacher and he decided to open up a new school just adjacent to his previous employer’s school i.e in the vicinity of Gloucester Grammar School. The defendant further reduced his new school’s fee to 12 pence as against the 40 pence that was being charged by his previous school. Since he was also quite famous with his students at the previous school and the new school’s fee was less than half of the previous school, many students left the previous school and joined the new school. This resulted in pecuniary losses to the previous school ( Gloucester Grammar School )
The petitioner i.e the owner of the Gloucester Grammar School decided to bring a suit for recovery of damages against the defendant alleging that the above-mentioned act of opening up a new school in the vicinity of his existing school caused him financial losses and that he should be compensated for the damages caused.
Issues Raised in the Gloucester Grammar School:
The two issues raised by the plaintiff was:
- Can the pecuniary loss suffered by the plaintiff because of the Defendant opening up a competitive business be compensated if the right of the plaintiff have been damaged?
- If the case comes under the maxim Damnum Sine Injuria? If yes, can the defendant skip liability?
Judgement in Brief
The court held that Gloucester Grammar School has no case against the defendant as they have suffered damages but no legal right of the petitioner was injured. And this is merely a case of business competition between Gloucester Grammar school and the new school. Therefore the act of opening up another school of similar fee structure or even a discounted fee structure was not an actionable wrong nor an injury to Gloucester Grammar school or his proprietor.
The court held in the affirmative that Gloucester Grammar School has no case against the defendant as the defendant had done nothing wrong against them nor had they suffered any legal wrong, thus Gloucester Gloucester Grammar School has suffered no injury.
The defendant merely setting up a new school in competition had done no wrong to the plaintiff.
The well-known expression damnum sine injuria states that a damage can be caused without any act of injustice or infringement of a legal right. In the above famous case of Gloucestershire Grammar School (1410) Y.B ii Hen 4, to 47 P121; 36 Digest (Repl) 252, when another school was founded in rivalry, the maxim was applied. The prior school’s claim was dismissed because the creation of a new school did not infringe on any of his legal rights. Although the prior school may have suffered monetary or financial losses because of the competition by the later school.
In the case of Jasbhai Motibhai Desai v. Roshan Kumar Haji Bashir Ahmed, (1976) 1 SCC 671, the Supreme Court used the aforementioned principles. The fact that the petitioner has a photostat store outside of the Mini Sectt. does not preclude respondent No. 3 from soliciting applications to open another photostat shop.
Damnum sine injuria is a legal maxim which in English means a situation where there is a Damage cause without causing any legal injury. In such a case there lies no claim for compensation as there must be a legal wrong cause to seek compensation.
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