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Vicarious liability law is still "on the move"

Employers should be aware of the expansion of the law on vicarious liability, where the court considers the question of when a company, organisation or firm can properly be held liable for the acts or omissions of a rogue director, partner, or employee.

One area for potential exposure revolves around GDPR and penalties for data breaches along with new working practices, the use of agency networks and delegation of work.

Many experts believe the law on vicarious liability has been “on the move” for some time with recent Supreme Court cases affirming previous case law while also acting to halt the further expansion of vicarious liability.

The cases Barclays Bank plc v Various Claimants [2020] UKSC 13 and WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants [2020] UKSC 12, have focussed attention on vicarious liability. The Barclays Bank case restates some of the traditional boundaries of who is and is not an “employee” while in the WM Morrison Supermarket case provides an insight into how courts are to assess the “sufficiently close connection”.

These two Supreme Court judgments do attempt to clarify where vicarious liability will stretch to – as well as where it will not. In legal circles there is a hope that these decisions will help stem the tide of appellate litigation and provide stability in this area of the law

This is in response to the view that vicarious liability law has been more of a loose tool of justice than a concrete set of principles. The Supreme Court continues to affirm that vicarious liability serves a vital function in the law of torts, and the “close connection” test appears to be here to stay.

W Denis Insurance Brokers has dedicated teams of specialists across General Liability, ProFin, Cyber and Medical Liability . To discuss this further with an expert at W Denis, please make arrangements with daniel.moss@wdenis.co.uk and on 0044 (0)113 2439812

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