Sunday, 22 January 2012

An Irish tied house

What a real treat - a post that isn't about Scotland. True, I did find it when looking for stuff on Scotland, but it's most definitely about Ireland.

Court cases and tied houses. Two topics dear to my heart.


Cork Brewery Appeal.—Trading Agreement in Question. In the High Court of Eire last month an important case was heard before the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Fitzgibbon, and Mr. Justice Murnaghan. An appeal was made on behalf of Andrew O'Donovan, publican. 22 George's Quay, Cork, from a judgment of the High Court, dismissing his appeal from a decision of Circuit Judge O'Donnell at Cork, granting an injunction in favour of James J. Murphy and Co., Ltd., brewers, Cork, restraining Mr. O'Donovan from selling on his licensed premises stout or porter other than the products of Messrs. Murphy and Co., Ltd.

The case for Messrs. Murphy and Co., Ltd., was based on a trading agreement of May 23rd, 1935, in respect of the licensed premises, of which originally they were lessors by a lease of December, 1893, which provided that Mr. O'Donovan should deal exclusively with them for porter and stout. The parties to the agreement were Messrs. Murphy and Co., Ltd., Mr. O'Donovan, and a former licensee who had transferred his interest in the premises to Mr. O'Donovan.

It was submitted on behalf of the appellant that the agreement was illegal and void, as being in unreasonable restraint of trade ; and that it was void in so far as it provided that the licence should be in the custody of Messrs. Murphy and Co., Ltd., and sought to create in them an interest in the licence.

The Court, without calling on counsel for the respondents (Messrs. James J. Murphy and Co., Ltd.), unanimously dismissed, with costs, the appeal.
"The Brewers' Journal 1938", June 15th 1938, page 303.
Unreasonable restraint of trade? Sounds like a perfect description of the tied house system. That's the whole point of it, keeping your competitors' beer out of pubs. I'm not surprised that the court ruled in favour of Murphy.

It's a peculiarity of Irish brewing that only in Cork did breweries - Murphy and Beamish & Crawford - build up estates of tied houses. I've seen it argued that the Cork brewers owed their survival to this. Elsewhere Guinness bought or bullied their way into pubs driving out competitors. Not sure if it's true, but it is striking that the only decent-sized Porter breweries to survive (other than Guinness, obviously) were in Cork.

Note that the tie agreement is only for Porter and Stout. There's a reason for that. It's all Murphy brewed. Though by the time of this dispute their Porter was all but dead.


The Beer Nut said...

"Eire". Tch...

The tied house system came late to Cork. I'd be fairly sure it was a direct attempt to preserve the local breweries from Guinness dominance after Guinness went national.

Matt said...

I take it it's the misspelling of "Éire" you're objecting to Beer Nut rather than the use of the official name for Ireland following De Valera's 1937 Constitution?

The Beer Nut said...

Both. The official (nominative case) name is "Éire" in the same way as "Deutschland" and "Suomi" are official names of those countries. They just look stupid -- and, in the case of "Éire", ungrammatical -- if you put them in the middle of an English sentence.

("Lovely holiday in България this year. How about you?"
"Oh we went to 日本")

Article 4 of "De Valera's 1937 Constitution" (or, as we call it, the Constitution) is pretty clear on what the country is called when you're speaking, or writing, English.

Cian Duffy said...

By the late 1960s, the Beamish & Crawford tie included lager - as they had the Carling contract by then. As far as I can tell they dropped the tie in 1969 and started divesting very shortly after.

Of course, Guinness themselves actually started buying pubs in the 1960s and got a sizeable estate in Dublin but never operated a tie; all long sold now.