Vicarious Liability in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Viasystems (Tyneside) Ltd v Thermal Transfer (Northern) Ltd
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 10 Octubre 2005

    I would hazard, however, the view that what one is looking for is a situation where the employee in question, at any rate for relevant purposes, is so much a part of the work, business or organisation of both employers that it is just to make both employers answer for his negligence.

  • Various Claimants v The Catholic Child Welfare Society and Others
    • Supreme Court
    • 21 Noviembre 2012

    The policy objective underlying vicarious liability is to ensure, insofar as it is fair, just and reasonable, that liability for tortious wrong is borne by a defendant with the means to compensate the victim. Such defendants can usually be expected to insure against the risk of such liability, so that this risk is more widely spread.

    The relationship that gives rise to vicarious liability is in the vast majority of cases that of employer and employee under a contract of employment. The employer will be vicariously liable when the employee commits a tort in the course of his employment. There is no difficulty in identifying a number of policy reasons that usually make it fair, just and reasonable to impose vicarious liability on the employer when these criteria are satisfied:

  • Tesco Supermarkets Ltd v Nattrass
    • House of Lords
    • 31 Marzo 1971

    A corporation has none of these: it must act through living persons, though not always one or the same person. Then the person who acts is not speaking or acting for the company. He is acting as the company and his mind which directs his acts is the mind of the company. If it is a guilty mind then that guilt is the guilt of the company.

  • Dubai Aluminium Company Ltd v Salaam
    • House of Lords
    • 05 Diciembre 2002

    Perhaps the best general answer is that the wrongful conduct must be so closely connected with acts the partner or employee was authorised to do that, for the purpose of the liability of the firm or the employer to third parties, the wrongful conduct may fairly and properly be regarded as done by the partner while acting in the ordinary course of the firm's business or the employee's employment.

  • Bernard v Attorney General of Jamaica
    • Privy Council
    • 07 Octubre 2004

    The correct approach is to concentrate on the relative closeness of the connection between the nature of the employment and the particular tort, and to ask whether looking at the matter in the round it is just and reasonable to hold the employers vicariously liable. In deciding this question a relevant factor is the risks to others created by an employer who entrusts duties, tasks and functions to an employee.

  • Launchbury v Morgans
    • House of Lords
    • 09 Mayo 1972

    For I regard it as clear that in order to fix vicarious liability upon the owner of a car in such a case as the present, it must be shown that the driver was using it for the owner's purposes, under delegation of a task or duty. The substitution for this clear conception of a vague test based on "interest" or "concern" has nothing in reason or authority to commend it.

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Books & Journal Articles
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Law Firm Commentaries
  • Vicarious liability + intentional acts: Fraud
    • LexBlog United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom Supreme Court is to revisit vicarious liability issues, with a bench of seven. The hearing is set down for 13 & 14 February 2018: Frederick and others (Appellants) v Positive...
  • Employment News: vicarious liability, age discrimination
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    Only joking – employer not vicariously liable for practical joke - In Chell v Tarmac Cement and Lime Ltd employees of Roltech Engineering were contracted to work alongside Tarmac employe...
  • Vicarious Liability – When does it arise?
    • LexBlog United Kingdom
    Two recent decisions of the UK Supreme Court have considered the doctrine of vicarious liability and effectively extended it to a wider range of circumstances. In the UK an employer can be held lia...
  • Vicarious liability in the UK – who am I responsible for?
    • LexBlog United Kingdom
    Back in the day, the concept of vicarious liability (that is the situation in which one party is held liable for the acts or omissions of another) was largely confined to the employer/employee rela...
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