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Vicarious Liability

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 Thanks to Miranda de Savorgnani of Outer Temple Chambers for preparing this case summary

Can a vicarious liability claim be struck out despite the fact-sensitive nature of such claims?

Emphatically yes, according to the Court of Appeal in Allen v Hampshire Police.

A police officer's wife brought a claim against the Constabulary, alleging her husband's ex-girlfriend (a police officer) had waged a campaign of harassment against her spanning four years. She claimed that the attacks were carried out in the purported performance of the officer's police function.

She appealed against strike out arguing that vicarious liability claims must be determined on the facts.

Gross LJ recalled that there must be a sufficiently 'close connection' between the relationship and the abuse, such that it created or significantly enhanced the risk that the victim would suffer the abuse.

Although vicarious liability claims are fact-sensitive and normally do not lend themselves to determination at a preliminary stage, where the facts alleged, taken at their highest did not reveal any, let alone close, connection between the tort and the tortfeasor's position as a police officer, there was a strong public interest in disposing of the claim as soon as possible.