Case law: Serious injury at drinking session after works party not employer’s responsibility
Employers should ensure it is clear when works events have ended, meaning that their liability for the safety and wellbeing of their workforce has also ended — otherwise they risk being found vicariously liable for post-event injuries, a recent case highlights.
This update was published in Legal Alert - January 2017
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Please note: A newer article on this case was published in the November 2018 edition of Legal Alert following subsequent developments in the legal process.
A director seriously injured a manager in an incident which took place after a group had gone to a hotel room to carry on drinking after their works Christmas party had ended.
The manager sued the company (and its insurers) on grounds the employer was vicariously liable for its director’s actions. To succeed, he had to show that the director was ‘acting in the course or scope of his employment’.
The manager failed in his claim: the High Court ruled that the employer would have been vicariously liable if the incident had taken place at the party, however, it took place during a private drinking session. The director was not therefore acting in the course or scope of his employment and the employer was not vicariously liable.
- Employers should ensure it is clear when works events have ended, so the employer’s liability for the safety and wellbeing of their workforce has therefore also ended.
Case ref: Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd  EWHC 3104
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