Supreme Court decides on vicarious liability of prisoner

In Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016] UKSC 10, the Supreme Court held that a prisoner, at work in the catering department of HMP Swansea, could by his negligence render the prison service vicariously liable.  Lord Reed, giving the only reasoned judgment, recognised that prisoners working in the prison kitchens are integrated into the operation of the prison and that their work furthers the prison’s aims, in particular the activity of providing meals for prisoners.   Furthermore, when placed by the prisoner service in the catering department, the prisoners present a risk of committing a variety of negligent acts within the fields of activities assigned to them. 

Accordingly, when Mr Inder, a prisoner, dropped a bag of rice onto the back of Mrs Cox, catering manager, the MoJ was vicariously liable for his negligence.

Robert Weir QC appeared on behalf of the successful claimant in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, with Robert O’Leary from Crown Office Chambers, instructed by Thompsons Solicitors.

To read the full judgment, please click here.
To read the press summary, please click here.

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