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Vicarious Liability

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Is a company vicariously liable for sexual assaults committed by a doctor engaged to carry out medical examinations for prospective applicants?

Yes, in this case, held the High Court in various Claimants v Barclays Bank plc.

This case involved 126 claims and the Court applied the two-stage test: (i) whether the relationship was one of employment or “akin to employment”, and (ii) whether the assaults had a sufficiently close connection to the employment or quasi-employment.

The first test was passed, applying the five criteria identified in Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016]. Notably, the assaults had been committed as a result of activity being undertaken by the doctor on behalf of the bank, and the doctor was under the control of the bank as they could direct what he did, even if they didn’t direct him how he should do it.

On the second test, there was a sufficiently close connection as the assaults were inextricably interwoven with the carrying out of the doctor’s duties.

Finally, it was fair, just and reasonable to impose vicarious liability as this was now the Claimants’ sole legal recourse, even though this was due to the claim being brought many years after the alleged assaults.

Thanks to Paul Livingston of Outer Temple Chambers for preparing this case summary