Two schoolgirls were raped during an overseas school trip to Belize. A claim for negligence was brought against their school and the trip operator.

The assailant was a local man who had been employed by a local company to act as a guide. It was argued that whilst he was never an employee of either defendant he had been entrusted with the pupils’ supervision and care so that the principles of vicarious liability should attach to his actions. There were also arguments that the school had failed to allot enough teachers for the trip as only one teacher was allotted.

It was alleged furthermore that the leadership team were in breach of their duty to exercise reasonable skill and care and keep the Claimants free from foreseeable harm.

On the evidence the Court did not consider the omission of a second teacher to amount to a breach of duty of care. Furthermore, the trip leaders had not been put on notice of any untoward conduct prior to the assault. In these circumstances there were no reasons for them to foresee the events that occurred and the Defendants had not breached their respective duty of care to the Claimants. The relationship between the assailant and the school was insufficiently close to make it just and fair to impose vicarious liability for the main acts.