19 October 2018 #Employment
The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision in Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Limited and found that the company was liable for the acts of its managing director in a late-night drinking session.
Following a staff Christmas party, an unplanned after-party took place at a hotel bar. The managing director of the company was present, along with the Claimant and others, and continued to pay for the majority of the drinks for his staff. After a prolonged conversation about work matters, the managing director became irate about a challenge to his authority and sought to assert himself, resulting in him punching the Claimant in the head. The Claimant sustained a fracture to his skull, resulting in traumatic brain damage.
Overturning the High Court’s decision, the Court of Appeal found that the company was vicariously liable for the managing director’s actions. It held that the managing director’s remit was broad and that despite the time and place, he was purporting to act as the managing director of the company by asserting his authority as such at the time of the assault.
Although the facts of this case are somewhat unusual, this serves as a timely reminder that the acts of employees outside work (even in spontaneous after-parties) can still result in liability for the business.