18 April 2019 #Employment
The High Court has ruled in Shelbourne v Cancer Research UK that the employer was not liable for the back injuries sustained by the employee at a Christmas Party.
A visiting scientist attending the party had picked up the Claimant and dropped her, causing a severe back injury. She claimed that the employer was liable, either through their own negligence or through vicarious liability. The High Court dismissed both claims.
Regarding negligence, the Court found the employer had not breached its duty of care to the Claimant. The employer had considered the previous five Christmas parties, all of which had been incident-free, and conducted appropriate risk assessments and hired security. The Court felt the additional measures the Claimant proposed, such as asking guests to sign declarations they would behave appropriately, would place an unnecessary burden on the employer.
On vicarious liability, the Court felt that the scientist’s actions at the party were not sufficiently connected to the functions he carried out for the employer, namely research, and it would not have been fair or just to hold the employer to account in such a situation.