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We act in several hundred civil claims against the Ministry of Defence. In the addition to allegations of negligence and systemic failings they have always been responsible for actions of those within their employment.

However, in recent cases, what does and does not fall ‘within their employment’ has widened to become much more of a legal grey area.

The cases have primarily revolved around assaults occurring away from the work place that can be linked back to the day job. As no one is employed to assault those they are working with, if someone is assaulted by a fellow employee out of work, then they are considering to not be ‘acting within their employment’.

However, a case recently came to prominence involving a petrol attendant who assaulted a customer who had asked for assistance. The Courts decided that because the attendant was tasked with dealing with the public then he was acting within his employment and the supermarket was liable for his actions. This was helpful in a recent case against the MOD where a soldier was tied up in his sleeping bag and assaulted by two fellow soldiers ‘to teach him a lesson’.

The MOD’s vicarious liability for their employees is not limited to physical abuse but extends to psychological abuse and bullying.

Published: April 2019

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Spring 2019

Key Contact

Geraldine McCool

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