Canadian Pacific Railway Co v Lockhart: PC 1941

When considering the imposition of vicarious liability, ‘the first consideration is the ascertainment of what the servant is employed to do.’ (Lord Thankerton) and ‘It is clear that the master is responsible for acts actually authorised by him: for liability would exist in this case, even if the relation between the parties was merely one of agency, and not one of service at all. But a master, as opposed to the employer of an independent contractor, is liable even for acts which he has not authorized, provided they are so connected with acts which he has authorized that they may rightly be regarded as modes – although improper modes – of doing them. In other words, a master is responsible not merely for what he authorizes his servant to do,but also for the way in which he does it . . On the other hand, if the unauthorized and wrongful act of the servant is not so connected with the authorized act as to be a mode of doing it, but is an independent act, the master is not responsible: for in such a case, the servant is not acting in the course of his employment but has gone outside of it.’ and
‘It is often difficult in the particular case to distinguish between the second and the third of these situations, but the criterion is whether the act which is unauthorised is so connected with acts which have been authorised that it may be regarded as a mode – although an improper mode – of doing the authorised act, as distinct from constituting an independent act for which the master would not be liable.’
Lord Dunedin said: ‘there are prohibitions which limit the sphere of employment, and prohibitions which only deal with conduct within the sphere of employment.’
Lord Thankerton, Lord Dunedin
[1942] AC 591, [1941] SCR 278, [1942] All ER 464
CitedPlumb v Cobden Flour Mills Co Ltd HL 1914
In looking at restrictions by an employer to limit his vicarious liability, the court must distinguish between prohibitions which limit the sphere of employment and those which only deal with conduct within the sphere of employment:’ ‘there are . .

Cited by:
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 . .
CitedRose v Plenty CA 7-Jul-1975
Contrary to his employers orders, a milkman allowed children to assist him in his milkround. One was injured, and sued the milkman’s employer.
Held: The milkman had not gone so far outside the activities for which he was employed for the . .
CitedRacz v Home Office HL 17-Dec-1993
The Home Office can be liable for the actions of prison officers which amounted to an official misfeasance. The principles of vicarious liability apply as much to misfeasance in public office as to other torts involving malice, knowledge or . .
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 . .
CitedFennelly v Connex South Eastern Ltd CA 11-Dec-2000
A ticket inspector, following an altercation with a passenger during which strong words were exchanged, had held the passenger in a headlock. The court had found this to be within the course of his employment so as to make the employer vicariously . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 20 August 2021; Ref: scu.214663