Donovan v Laing, Wharton and Down Construction Syndicate Ltd: CA 1893

The plaintiff was injured by the negligence of a crane driver. The defendants had contracted to lend the crane with its driver to a firm who were loading a ship.
Held: There are circumstances in which vicarious liability for the tortious act of a workman can be transferred from his employer to a third person who is using the employee’s services under a contract, or other arrangement, with his employer. Although the crane driver remained the general employee of the defendants, they had parted with the power of controlling him with regard to the matter on which he was engaged and were not liable for his negligence while he was so employed.
Lord Esher MR said: ‘For some purposes, no doubt, the man was the servant of the defendants. Probably, if he had let the crane get out of order by his neglect, and in consequence anyone was injured thereby, the defendants might be liable; but the accident in this case did not happen from that cause, but from the manner of working the crane. The man was bound to work the crane according to the orders and under the entire and absolute control of Jones and Co.’ Bowen LJ said that the court only had to consider in whose employment the man was at the time the acts complained of were done, in the sense that by the employer is meant the person who has a right at the moment to control the doing of the act. The question was whether the defendants had parted with the power of controlling the operation on which the man was engaged.
Bowen LJ, Lord Esher MR
[1893] 1 QB 629
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedViasystems (Tyneside) Ltd v Thermal Transfer (Northern) Ltd and others CA 10-Oct-2005
The defendants had subcontracted work installing air conditioning to the second defendants, who in turn bought in fitters from the third defendants. A fitter caused a flood acting irresponsibly.
Held: The court reviewed the law of vicarious . .
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 . .
CitedJGE v The Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust CA 12-Jul-2012
The claimant suffered physical and serious sexual abuse whilst a child at a children’s home run by the defendant. A parish priest committed some of the abuse, and she claimed that the defendants were vicariously liable. They denied such liability. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 21 September 2021; Ref: scu.231004