Bernard v The Attorney General of Jamaica: PC 7 Oct 2004

PC (Jamaica) The claimant had been queuing for some time to make an overseas phone call at the Post Office. Eventually his turn came, he picked up the phone and dialled. Suddenly a man intervened, announced ‘police’ and demanded the phone. The man was in fact a police officer. The officer added that he wanted to make a long distance call and told the claimant to let go of the phone. The claimant refused. The officer slapped his hand and then pushed him. When the claimant still refused to let go of the phone the officer pulled out a service revolver and shot him in the head at point blank range. The claimant was rendered unconscious. When he awoke he found himself in a hospital bed surrounded by police officers including the officer who had shot him. The officer arrested him for assaulting a police officer and handcuffed him to the bed. The claimant sought to establish vicarious liability of the respondent who employed the officer.
Held: Vicarious liability is a principle of strict liability. It is a liability for a tort committed by an employee not based on any fault of the employer. It must be kept within clear limits. Nevertheless, the officer had purported to act as a polic officer and later to arrest the claimant. The trial judge was entitled to find vicarious liability established and that the Court of Appeal erred in allowing the appeal.
Lord Steyn: ‘The correct approach is to concentrate on the relative closeness of the connection between the nature of the employment and the particular tort, and to ask whether in looking at the matter in the round, it is just and reasonable to hold the employer vicariously liable.’

Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Millett, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Carswell
[2004] UKPC 47, No. 30 of 2003, [2005] IRLR 398
PC, Bailii, PC
Commonwealth
Citing:
CitedLister and Others v Hesley Hall Ltd HL 3-May-2001
A school board employed staff to manage a residential school for vulnerable children. The staff committed sexual abuse of the children. The school denied vicarious liability for the acts of the teachers.
Held: ‘Vicarious liability is legal . .
CitedDubai Aluminium Company Limited v Salaam and Others HL 5-Dec-2002
Partners Liable for Dishonest Act of Solicitor
A solicitor had been alleged to have acted dishonestly, having assisted in a fraudulent breach of trust by drafting certain documents. Contributions to the damages were sought from his partners.
Held: The acts complained of were so close to . .
CitedWeir v Bettison CA 2003
. .
CitedBazley v Curry 17-Jun-1999
(Canadian Supreme Court) The court considerd the doctrine of vicarious liability: ‘The policy purposes underlying the imposition of vicarious liability on employers are served only where the wrong is so connected with the employment that it can be . .

Cited by:
CitedBrown v Robinson and Sentry PC 14-Dec-2004
(Jamaica) The deceased claimant had been shot by a sentry employed by the respondent company. His estate appealed a finding that the sentry was not acting in the course of his employment.
Held: Older authorities had now been replaced by recent . .
CitedHutchinson v Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Another QBD 27-Jul-2005
The claimant sought damages for assault by a probationary constable. The constable had been called to a drunken party for Sainsbury’s employees.
Held: The claimant had been assaulted. Miss Morgan had introduced herself as a police officer, had . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust CA 16-Mar-2005
The claimant had sought damages against his employer, saying that they had failed in their duty to him under the 1997 Act in failing to prevent harassment by a manager. He appealed a strike out of his claim.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust HL 12-Jul-2006
Employer can be liable for Managers Harassment
The claimant employee sought damages, saying that he had been bullied by his manager and that bullying amounting to harassment under the 1997 Act. The employer now appealed a finding that it was responsible for a tort committed by a manager, saying . .
CitedHelen Green v DB Group Services (UK) Ltd QBD 1-Aug-2006
The claimant sought damages from her former employers, asserting that workplace bullying and harassment had caused injury to her health. She had had a long term history of depression after being abused as a child, and the evidence was conflicting, . .
CitedGravil v Carroll and Another CA 18-Jun-2008
The claimant was injured by an unlawful punch thrown by the first defendant when they played rugby. He sought damages also against the defendant’s club, and now appealed from a finding that they were not vicariously liable. The defendant player’s . .
CitedMaga v The Trustees of The Birmingham Archdiocese of The Roman Catholic Church CA 16-Mar-2010
The claimant appealed against rejection of his claim for damages after alleging sexual abuse by a catholic priest. The judge had found the church not vicariously liable for the injuries, and that the archdiocese had not been under a duty further to . .
CitedVarious Claimants v The Catholic Child Welfare Society and Others CA 26-Oct-2010
Child sexual abuse was alleged by 150 claimants against staff members of a community home with teachers supplied by the defendants. The court had asked whether they had vicarious liability for the acts of their staff, and now whether the board of . .
CitedWeddall v Barchester Healthcare Ltd CA 24-Jan-2012
Parties appealed against judgments dismissing their claims of vicarious liability as against their employers after assaults by co-employees.
Held: Appeals were dismissed and allowed according to their facts.
In one case, one employee . .
CitedThe Catholic Child Welfare Society and Others v Various Claimants and The Institute of The Brothers of The Christian Schools and Others SC 21-Nov-2012
Law of vicarious liability is on the move
Former children at the children’s homes had sought damages for sexual and physical abuse. The court heard arguments as to the vicarious liability of the Society for abuse caused by a parish priest visiting the school. The Court of Appeal had found . .
CitedMohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc SC 2-Mar-2016
The claimant had been assaulted and racially abused as he left a kiosk at the respondent’s petrol station by a member of staff. A manager had tried to dissuade the assailant, and the claim for damages against the supermarket had failed at first . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Vicarious Liability, Police

Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.215957