Vicarious liability for deliberate acts
Produced in partnership with Andrew Wilson

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note produced in partnership with Andrew Wilson provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Vicarious liability for deliberate acts
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical assault
  • Work in which use of force is inherent
  • Incidents arising from friction in the workplace
  • Horseplay or pranks

Vicarious liability for deliberate acts

Since the decision in Lister v Hesley Hall in 2002, it has been clear that, subject to satisfaction of the relevant test, an employer may be held vicariously liable for intentional harm done by an employee (or in certain circumstances, others in a similar or analogous position).

See further Practice Notes: Nature and operation of vicarious liability, Scope and impact of vicarious liability and Vicarious liability in the course of employment—the close connection test.

The purpose of this Practice Note is to provide a summary of the position in relation to different categories of intentional harm.

Sexual abuse

Since the decision in Lister, there has been a succession of cases dealing with the issue of vicarious liability in the context of the sexual abuse of children in the care of local authorities, educational establishments and church organisations.

The close connection test has been applied differently in cases concerning sexual abuse which cannot be regarded as something done by the employee while acting in the ordinary course of their employment. Instead, the courts have emphasised the importance of criteria that are particularly relevant to that form of wrongdoing such as the employer’s conferral of authority on the employee over the victims which they have abused.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: Sexual abuse claims.

Physical assault

Work in which use of force is inherent

The courts are often called on

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