20 November, 2017
The claimant brought a claim against her employer, the NHS, after sustaining an injury as a result of a 'prank' whilst at work. The claimant was injured when her colleague deliberately pulled her chair away as she sat down.
The claimant claimed damages of £58,000 from Homerton University Hospital arguing that it was vicariously liable for her colleague's "act of folly".
At trial the Judge dismissed the claim ruling that the employee had acted "outside the scope of his work". He commented that the employee had acted "in a purely private capacity, unconnected with his work. He had no reason to do so, there was no malicious intent. It was an act of pure folly".
In recent years, the scope of vicarious liability has been widening and moving more and more towards employers being liable in many new circumstances, as demonstrated in the cases of Mohammed v Morrisons and Cox v Ministry of Justice. This judgment albeit a County Court judgment is encouraging for employers. For an employer to be liable for a reckless act committed by its employee, the wrongful act must be sufficiently proximate to the business and/or role of the employee and must further the employers aims.