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Bakery Boss Punished for Making Illegitimate Use of Rival’s Equipment

The law positively encourages business competition, but there are limits and judges are active in policing the line of acceptability. In one case, the owner of an independent bakery narrowly escaped being sent to prison for making illegitimate use of a much larger rival’s equipment.

The rival had obtained an injunction against the businessman, forbidding him from making use of its liveried bread trays, wheeled dollies and baskets that had come into his possession in the course of his trade. After he breached that order three times, the rival launched contempt of court proceedings.

In ruling on the matter, a judge noted that injunctions are not issued for fun and that obedience to them is vital to maintain public confidence in the justice system. The breaches – which were akin to a taxi driver using another’s vehicle without consent – could have been avoided at very modest expense.

After the businessman admitted the breaches and apologised, the judge noted that he was not a criminal and was otherwise entirely respectable. In the circumstances, the judge imposed a suspended six-week jail term, but warned him that the sentence would inevitably be implemented if he breached the order again.

The businessman was also ordered to pay a £3,000 fine – £1,000 for each of the breaches – and his rival’s £5,000 legal costs. He was also directed to pay damages of £664, that sum representing the cost of repatriating the rival’s equipment.