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Turbulent Priests

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[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of EEF for providing this case summary]

The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in Maga v Roman Catholic Church , which is authority for the proposition that an employer may be liable for acts of an employee where there is a sufficiently close connection between the tortfeasor's usual functions and tortious deeds, in this case, child abuse, even when the victim came into an abusive priest's orbit from a non-work background, expanding on Lister v Hesley Hall Ltd. (HL).

Lord Neuberger MR noted the special role of a priest, who is "never off duty" and that this priest's role, obliging him to befriend non-Catholics, and working with youths, had afforded him the opportunity to groom his victim, by involving the Claimant in activities such as Church discos, and washing the priest's car, had thereby drawn him into an abusive relationship.

On the sordid facts, there was a sufficiently close connection between employment and the abuse to make it fair and just to hold the employer liable, even if there was no fault on the employer's part.