Citation[2016] UKSC 11 and [2014] EWCA Civ 116

On appeal from [2014] EWCA Civ 116

This appeal is a wakeup call for employers in relation to vicarious liability for wrongful acts committed by their employees at work. The appeal follows the assault of the now deceased Claimant by an employee of Morrisons whilst he was at work.

The Supreme Court in the Judgment of Lord Toulson affirms the close connection test between the actions of the employee and his employment. The court considered two key points – the nature of the job entrusted to the employee and whether there was a sufficient connection between that role and the wrongful conduct to make it right for the employer to be held vicariously liable.

The key point is “the court found that the nature of the job was to be viewed broadly” i.e. in this case attending customers and responding to their enquiries.

The ruling has not changed the law on vicarious liability.  However, it has potentially widened it and made it easier for customers of a business who are assaulted by its employee(s) or affected by employees who commit an unlawful act whilst on duty – to hold the business vicariously liable.  It is also likely to affect cases involving assault or harassment by co-workers while at work.