Win on vicarious liability in Court of Appeal

In Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2214  the claimant was assaulted by his boss, the chief executive of a small company, in a hotel in the early hours of the morning following a drinking session.  Earlier in the evening, the claimant, his boss and other employees had been to the work Christmas party elsewhere.   The trigger for the assault had been the chief executive reacting to what he perceived to be a challenge to his authority, in particular his decision to employ someone else at the company.   At first instance, the court held that the assault occurred outside of work and did not render the employer vicariously liable.   The Court of Appeal disagreed.   The chief executive’s functions were broad and he was purporting to drive home his authority with blows.   That was enough, applying Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc [2016] AC 677, to engage the principle of vicarious liability.

The claimant, who sustained a traumatic brain injury in the assault, is now in a position to proceed to recover damages.

Rob Weir QC acted with David Sanderson of 12 KBW on behalf of the claimant/appellant, instructed by Slater & Gordon solicitors.

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