An employer can be held responsible for the actions of their employee, if such actions were committed ‘during the course of their employment’.

This is known as vicarious liability.

A recent landmark case has fine-tuned the law on how far this point can go. It has specifically confirmed that two factors must be satisfied before a claim can be successful. There must be:

  1. a relationship between the two persons which makes it proper for the law to make the one pay for the fault of the other; and
  2. a connection between that relationship and the tortfeasor’s (employee) wrongdoing.

WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc v Various Claimants [2020] found that the mishandling of data and information of an employee was so remote from a role of an employee that Morrisons should not be liable for the actions of a disgruntled employee.

For an employer to be held responsible for the actions of their employee therefore, there must be a relationship and connection between the act committed and the cause of action.

The case of Christian Brothers [2012] confirmed the relationship test to be found where:

(i) the employer is more likely to have the means to compensate the victim and can be expected to have insured against that liability;

(ii) the tort (or action) will have been committed as a result of activity being taken by the employee on behalf of the employer,

(iii) the employee’s activity is likely to be part of the business activity of the employer,

(iv) the employer, by employing the employee to carry on the activity will have created the risk of the tort committed by the employee, and

(v) the employee will, to a greater or lesser degree, have been under the control of the employer.

Barclays Bank v Various Claimants [2020]  found that an employer is not responsible for the criminal act of an employee, unless that act is linked in some way to the terms on which they were hired/job description. Specifically, there needs to be a break in the ‘day to day’ work and then any act of criminality.

So, an employer can be held responsible for the actions of their employee, even in situations where there is less of a definitive relationship.

We can help

Our specialist Personal Injury Team at Ringrose Law deal with these types of scenario’s on a daily basis.

If you have suffered a personal injury you may be entitled to claim. Contact us on 01522 561020.

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