Kirby v National Coal Board: OHCS 1958

The court considered the degree of connection necessary between the act of an employee and his employer’s business to establish liability under the rule respondeat superior: ‘four different types of situation have been envisaged as guides to the solution of this problem. In the first place, if the master actually authorised the particular act, he is clearly liable for it. Secondly, where the workman does some work which he is appointed to do, but does it in a way which his master has not authorised and would not have authorised had he known of it, the master is nevertheless still responsible, for the servant’s act is still within the scope of his employment. On the other hand, in the third place, if the servant is employed only to do a particular work or a particular class of work, and he does something outside the scope of that work, the master is not responsible for any mischief the servant may do to a third party. Lastly, if the servant uses his master’s time or his master’s place or his master’s tools for his own purposes, the master is not responsible. . .’ and ‘It is probably not possible and it is certainly inadvisable to endeavour to lay down an exhaustive definition of what falls within the scope of the employment. Each case must depend to a considerable extent on its particular facts.’
Lord President Clyde
1958 SC 514
Cited by:

  • Cited – Lister 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 . .
    Times 10-May-01, Gazette 14-Jun-01, [2001] UKHL 22, [2002] 1 AC 215, [2001] 2 All ER 769, [2001] 2 FCR 97, (2001) 3 LGLR 49, [2001] NPC 89, [2001] Fam Law 595, [2001] 2 WLR 1311, [2001] IRLR 472, [2001] ICR 665, [2001] Emp LR 819, [2001] 2 FLR 307, [2001] ELR 422
  • Cited – Williams v A and W Hemphill Ltd HL 1966
    Against his employers’s instructions a driver of a lorry deviated substantially from his route. On the detour an accident occurred owing to the fault of the driver. The question arose whether the employers of the lorry driver were vicariously . .
    1966 SC(HL) 31, [1966] UKHL 3

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 December 2020; Ref: scu.214674