Vicarious Liability

George Heron

George Heron

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Phone 01952 566918

27 April 2016

Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc

You may well be familiar with the concept of ‘vicarious liability’. Essentially, in an employment context, this is when an employer is liable for the wrongs committed by an employee where there is a sufficient connection with the employment.

This case concerned an employee whose job it was to see that the petrol pumps at a Morrisons supermarket were in good working order. A customer asked the Morrisons employee whether he could print some documents from a USB drive. The employee replied in expletive terms that he could not, before proceeding to demand that the customer leave using foul and racist language. Remarkably, and despite the supervisor trying to stop the employee, the employee then pursued the customer, punching him in the head and then punching him to the ground.

Naturally, the customer brought a claim for this assault. The case went all the way to the Court of Appeal where it was held that the employee running out of the kiosk was not sufficient to break the connection to his duties. By demanding that the customer leave the premises, he was purporting to go about his employer’s business rather than acting in a personal capacity. As such, it was held that his employer should be held vicariously liable.

As this case shows, it is essential that you manage your staff correctly as the consequences for not doing so could be severe. At Alpha, we have a vast experience in providing bespoke, practical advice on HR and employment law issues. We are proud of our commercial outlook and do not sit on the fence. If you would like to have Alpha on your side, please feel free to contact us.


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