Vicarious Liability

vicarious liability

  • Created by: Laura
  • Created on: 20-06-11 20:40

Vicarious Liability


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Vicarious Liability

  • Employer may have had greater degree of control
  • Employer may have been careless selecting staff
  • Employer usually better able to stand loss to compensate victim
  • Can make conduct of case easier in terms of identifying specific negligence

Depends on:

  • Was the person an employee?
  • Did they commit tort 'in the course of employment?'
  • Was the act or omission a tort?
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Vicarious Liability

Tests of


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Vicarious Liability

Tests of employment

  • Control test - oldest test based on master/servant laws and level of control master had over servant. very difficult in modern setting - Mersey Docks
  • Integration - how integrated a persons work is to the business e.g. teacher would be integrated, freelance writer wouldn't be. doesn't reflect modern situations

Multiple test- takes into account more than one factor.

  • Employee agree to provide work in return for wage
  • Employee expressly of impliedly accepts work will be subject to control of employer
  • All other considerations of contract consistent with employment

Ready Mixed Concrete 

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Vicarious Liability

Factors affecting


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Vicarious Liability

  • ownership of equipment - employee less likely to own equipment
  • method of payment - employee likely to be paid wage
  • tax and NI contributions - employee usually has them deducted by employer
  • self-description - person may describe themselves as self-employed
  • level of independance - self-employed can choose own work
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Vicarious Liability



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Vicarious Liability

Casual workers - O'Kelly - wine butlers not employees as only provided work when needed

Agency staff not seen as employees of agency - Wickens v Champion Employment - agency workers not employees as agency under no obigation to provide work

Outworkers - Nethermere - workers in garment industry held to be employees as were doing same work as employees in factory, only at home

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Vicarious Liability

In the course

of employment

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Vicarious Liability

Authorised Acts - employer liable for acts they have expressly authorised...

Poland v Parr - employee assaulted boy trying to steal lorry, employee vicariously liable as employee would be expected to actively try to prevent theft.

Authorised Acts in Unauthorised Manner...

Expressly prohibited acts - Limpus - bus drivers told not to race but did and injured passengers - employer liable

Employee working negligently - Century Insurance Co - driver of petrol tanker caused explosion by throwing lighted match, employer liable

Unauthorised lifts - Rose v Plenty - milkman continued used boy as helper despite being told not to then boy was injured. employer liable

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Vicarious Liability

Torts not in

course of


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Vicarious Liability

Expressly prohibited act - Beard v London General Omnibus - bus conductor drove bus depsite express orders not to and injured C. employers not liable.

When employee on 'frolic of own' - Hilton v Thomas Burton - workmen took unauthorised break and when van crashed killing someone, employers not liable as workment on 'frolic'

Authorised lifts - Twine - hitch hiker injured through negligence of driver forbidden to give lifts, employers not liable - didn't gain benefit like in Rose v Plenty

Acts exceeding boundaries of work - Makanjula - polive officer bribed illegal immigrant with sex in return for not reporting her to authorities, employer not liable

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Vicarious Liability

Liability in

other circumstances

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Vicarious Liability

Employer won't be liable for crimes of employee that also amount to tort - Warren v Henleys - petrol pump assistant assaulted customer who believed wasn't going to pay, employer not liable

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