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R v Journeymen-Taylors of Cambridge

R v Journeymen-Taylors of Cambridge (1721) 88 ER 9 is a labour law case, concerning the historical attitude of the common law to trade unions. It held that strike action amounted to an unlawful and criminal conspiracy. This attitude prevailed through the 19th century, until trade unions were made lawful by Parliament in the Trade Union Act 1871 and the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875. The Trade Disputes Act 1906 confirmed unions' legality at common law once more, and now the position is reflected in international law, particularly the ILO Convention No 87 and 98.

R v Journeymen-Taylors of Cambridge
Citation(s)(1721) 8 Mod 10, 88 ER 9
Contract of employment, terms



A group of workers had founded the London Journeymen Tailors’ Union and held a strike the following year. In response the Journeymen Tailors, London Act 1720 was passed. A case was brought that the union constituted an unlawful conspiracy.


The court heard that the agreement would be contrary to the Journeymen Tailors, London Act 1720. It found, however, that it was unnecessary to rely on the Act, because the union's actions were unlawful at common law.

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