The claimant was employed by the defendant as a catering manager when one of the prisoners who worked in the kitchen negligently dropped a sack of rice on her back.  The claimant lost at first instance on the basis that the defendant was not vicariously liable for the prisoner.  The prisoner was not an employee of the defendant and the Judge considered the law on vicarious liability and the various tests to establish whether the relationship was one akin to employment.

The claimant succeeded on appeal to the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court heard the defendant’s appeal and dismissed it.  The Supreme Court referred back to the words of the Court of Appeal in Various Claimants v Catholic Child Welfare Society [2012] UKSC 56 that ‘the law of vicarious liability is on the move’ and said “It has not yet come to a stop.”  The Supreme Court considered Various Claimants and the five factors set out by Lord Phillips to determine whether there was a relationship that gave rise to vicarious liability.  The Supreme Court said that the five factors were not of equal significance and the fifth factor – control – no longer has the significance that it was sometimes considered to have in the past.

In applying the factors set out in Various Claimants the Supreme Court found that the defendant was vicariously liable to the claimant.