Nokes v Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd

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Nokes v Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd
Hickleton Colliery - over the driver's head - - 1769193.jpg
Court House of Lords
Citation(s) [1940] AC 1014
Case opinions
Viscount Simonds, Lord Atkin, Lord Thankerton, Lord Porter and Lord Romer (dissenting)
Consent, transfer of undertakings

Nokes v Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd [1940] AC 1014 is a UK labour law case concerning the common law position before the Business Transfers Directive 2001 and TUPER 2006 and deciding that a change in employer could not result in a burden being placed on an employee without his consent.


Mr Nokes had worked for the Hickleton Main Co Ltd until 4 June 1937, when the Chancery Court gave an order for the business to be transferred under the Companies Act 1929, section 154(1), on arrangements and reconstructions to Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd. Mr Nokes was absent and would be liable to pay damages to the new business under the Employers and Workmen Act 1875, section 4, if he had a service contract with the company. He denied this, but the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal ordered him to pay 15s (75p) in damages and 10s (50p) in costs. He appealed to the House of Lords.


The House of Lords held, by a majority, that Mr Nokes did not have to pay the fee because his employment could not be transferred without his consent. Viscount Simon LC said that it is 'a fundamental principle of our common law… that a free citizen, in the exercise of his freedom, is entitled to choose the employer whom he promises to serve, so that the right to his services cannot be transferred from one employer to another without his assent'.[1] Lord Atkin vigorously denied that EWA 1875 could result in a fine for the worker, going so far as to say he regarded any automatic transfer rule would be 'tainted with oppression and confiscation'. He wrote the following.[2]

Lord Thankerton and Lord Porter concurred.

Lord Romer dissented.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1940] AC 1014, 1020
  2. ^ [1940] AC 1014, 1026-1030