Majrowski 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 that the intention of the Act was to protect against stalkers, and that this was not such a situation, and that an unnecessarily large burden would face employers if liability was accepted.
Held: The employer was liable. The Act created rights, including a right to damages, and despite setting out other features of the tort, did not exclude vicarious liability. The fact that other defences might be available to other complaints was of little assistance in interpreting these provisions. That the corresponding provision for Scotland imposed explicit vicarious liability by section 10 was a clearer indication of Parliament’s intent. Baroness Hale said: ‘floodgates arguments may assist the courts in deciding how to develop the principles of the common law. They are of little help to us in construing the language which Parliament has used.’
Lord Nicholls said: ‘A precondition of vicarious liability is that the wrong must be committed in the course of his employment’, that ‘A wrong is committed in the course of employment only if the conduct is so closely connected with acts the employee is authorised to do that for the purposes of the liability of the employer to third parties the wrongful conduct may fairly and properly be regarded as done by the employee while acting in the course of his employment’, and that ‘The rationale underlying the principle holds good for a wrong comprising a breach of statutory duty or prohibition which gives rise to civil liability provided always that the statute does not expressly or impliedly indicate otherwise’.

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hope of Craighead, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
[2006] UKHL 34, Times 13-Jul-2006, [2006] 4 All ER 395, (2006) 91 BMLR 85, [2006] ICR 1199, [2006] 3 WLR 125, [2007] 1 AC 224, [2006] IRLR 695
Protection from Harassment Act 1997 3
England and Wales
Appeal fromMajrowski 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 . .
CitedHarrison v National Coal Board HL 1951
The plaintiff sought damages from his employer after suffering injury when a co-worker fired a shot in the colliery, acting in breach of the regulations.
Held: There was no vicarious liability duty in law on the managers to ensure compliance . .
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 . .
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 . .
CitedImperial Chemical Industries Ltd v Shatwell HL 6-Jul-1964
The respondent was employed as a shot firer in a quarry, and was to test the electric wiring connecting explosive charges. Contrary to instructions that testing must be done from a shelter, the respondent and another shot firer carried out a test in . .
CitedDarling Island Stevedoring and Lighterage Co v Long 1957
(High Court of Australia) An employer was not responsible vicariously for a breach of a duty at common law between one emplyee and another. There could be no vicarious liability on an employer under regulations providing precautions to be observed . .
CitedStaveley Iron and Chemical Co Ltd v Jones HL 1956
The court must avoid treating every risky act by an employee due to familiarity with the work or some inattention resulting from noise or strain as contributory negligence: ‘ . . in Factory Act cases the purpose of imposing the absolute obligation . .
CitedNicol v National Coal Board SCS 1952
The court considered a claim against his employer after the plaintiff suffered injury after a breach of safety regulations by a co-worker.
Held: Referring to Harrison v NCB: ‘It appears to me that that principle disposes of the argument . .
CitedMacMillan v Wimpey Offshore Engineers and Constructors Ltd 1991
. .
CitedNational Coal Board v England HL 1954
The plaintiff sought damages after being injured when a co-worker fired a shot. The employee however had himself coupled the detonator to the cable rather than leaving it to the shotfirer, and had his cimmitted a criminal offence. He had been found . .
CitedMatuszczyk v National Coal Board 1953
The pursuer sought damages at common law after being injured by a shot-firing by a co-worker. The pursuer based his case on duties said to be owed to him by the shot-firer at common law. The defenders’ argument was that these duties had been . .
CitedBernard 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 . .
CitedMattis v Pollock (T/A Flamingo’s Nightclub) QBD 24-Oct-2002
The claimant sought damages after being assaulted by a doorman employed by the defendant.
Held: The responsibility of the nightclub owner for the actions of his aggressive doorman was not extinguished by the separation in time and place from . .
CitedMcGlennan v McKinnon 1998
. .
CitedMccann Or Mcgurran Known As Mccann v Mcgurran SCS 14-Mar-2002
. .
CitedMcGuire v Kidston ScSf 2002
. .

Cited by:
CitedCumbria County Council v Carlisle-Morgan EAT 29-Jan-2007
EAT A employed R as a support worker. R made a number of protected disclosures relating to a fellow worker’s conduct towards a client. The ET held various detriments were suffered by R on the ground of the . .
CitedVeakins v Kier Islington Ltd CA 2-Dec-2009
The claimant alleged that her manager at work had harassed her. The court, applying Conn, had found that none of the acts complained of were sufficiently serious to amount to criminal conduct, and had rejected the claim.
Held: The claimant’s . .
CitedRayment v Ministry of Defence QBD 18-Feb-2010
The claimant sought damages alleging harassment by officers employed by the defendant. An internal investigation had revealed considerable poor behaviour by the senior officers, and that was followed by hostile behaviour. The defendant had put up . .
CitedFerguson v British Gas Trading Ltd CA 10-Feb-2009
Harassment to Criminal Level needed to Convict
The claimant had been a customer of the defendant, but had moved to another supplier. She was then subjected to a constant stream of threatening letters which she could not stop despite re-assurances and complaints. The defendant now appealed . .
CitedFecitt and Others v NHS Manchester EAT 23-Nov-2010
S.47B of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that ‘A worker has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate . .
CitedIqbal v Dean Manson Solicitors CA 15-Feb-2011
The claimant sought protection under the Act from his former employers’ behaviour in making repeated allegations against him. He appealed against the striking out of his claim.
Held: The appeal suceeded. The matter should go to trial. The . .
CitedJones and Another v Ruth and Another CA 12-Jul-2011
The parties were neighbours. The claimants succeeded in their assertion of trespass and nuisance in building works carried out by the defendant. The claimant appealed against the judge’s failure to award damages for harassment, saying that though . .
CitedHayes v Willoughby CA 13-Dec-2011
Harassment Occurs on the Result, not the Intention
The claimant said that over several years, the respondent had pursued him in many ways challenging his management of a company’s affairs. Complaints had been investigated by the insolvency service and by the police who had discovered nothing to . .
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 . .
CitedHayes v Willoughby SC 20-Mar-2013
The claimant and appellant had been employer and employee who had fallen out, with a settlement in 2005. The appellant then began an unpleasant and obsessive personal vendetta against Mr Hayes, complaining to public bodies with allegations of tax . .
CitedNHS Manchester v Fecitt and Others CA 25-Oct-2011
The appellant challenged reversal by the EAT of a finding that it had not unlawfully victimised the respondents for the making of a protected disclosure. The claimant had reported a co-worker exaggerating his qualifications. After repeated . .
CitedWoodland v Essex County Council SC 23-Oct-2013
The claimant had been seriously injured in an accident during a swimming lesson. She sought to claim against the local authority, and now appealed against a finding that it was not responsible, having contracted out the provision of swimming . .
CitedBoylin v The Christie NHS Foundation QBD 17-Oct-2014
The claimant a senior employee manager complained of harassment and common law negligence causing her injury.
Held: The claim failed. Behaviour of the level required to found a claim under the 1997 Act was established, but only on one occaion . .
CitedEvans v Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust QBD 8-Oct-2014
The court was asked whether a party who requires the court’s permission to withdraw a Part 36 offer may be granted such permission on the basis of information and for reasons not disclosed to the party to whom the offer was made.
Held: The . .
CitedCalland v Financial Conduct Authority CA 13-Mar-2015
The claimant appealed against the striking out of his claim of harassment against the Authority who had contacted him in an intended review of pensions mis-selling. They had contacted him once by letter, once by telephone and once by e-mail.
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 . .
CitedGerrard and Another v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Ltd and Another QBD 27-Nov-2020
The claimants, a solicitor and his wife, sought damages in harassment and data protection, against a party to proceedings in which he was acting professionally, and against the investigative firm instructed by them. The defendants now requested the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Vicarious Liability

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.243081