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Vicarious Liability

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If a doctor, assigned by a company to carry out medical examinations on prospective job applicants, commits a sexual assault, is that company then vicariously liable?

In Various Claimants v Barclays Bank plc the High Court concluded that, Yes, the company is liable.

In this case there were 126 claims of sexual assault and the Court applied the two-stage test: The first stage was to assess whether the relationship between the claimants and the respondent was one of employment or “akin to employment”, and the second was whether these assaults were connected sufficiently to the employment or quasi-employment.

The five criteria identified in Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016]was used to pass the first test. It was noted that the assaults had occurred as a result of work that had been scheduled by the bank by a doctor working on behalf of the bank. The bank were in control of what the doctor was doing no matter whether they directed him in how he should do it.

It was found, on the second test, that the assaults were connected sufficiently to the employment as they were completely interlaced in the performance of the doctor’s duties.

Even though the claims were brought many years after the alleged assaults it was deemed fair and reasonable to impose vicarious liability as this was now the Claimant’s only legal recourse.

Written by
Lorraine Emery
24th August 2017