It is clear law that employers are liable for the actions of their employees (assuming such actions are carried out in the course of employment). In addition to this, a recent case has concluded that the employer can also be responsible for the actions of a contractor working on its behalf.
In Various Claimants v Barclays Bank plc (Dr Bates (deceased) and Barclays Group Litigation)  a number of individuals claimed that they suffered a sexual assault whilst attending a pre-employment medical check. Most of the individuals were women, who were around 16 years old at the time of the assaults. They alleged that the assaults were carried out by a doctor (who has since died) who was contracted to carry out the medicals by Barclays Bank. He was not an employee of the bank, but was independently contracted to do the work. The bank argued that they were not liable for the actions of the doctor because he was not their employee.
The High Court concluded that the relationship between the bank and the doctor was sufficient for the bank to be vicariously liable for the doctor’s actions. The medical assessments were for the benefit of the bank, and were part of its business activities. The bank had control over the work of the doctor, and was very prescriptive about what he was required to do. The assaults were carried out during the work that the bank had asked the doctor to do. As the doctor had died the bank is the only route for legal recourse for the claimants. As a result, the High Court concluded that the bank was liable.
- Identify all contractors that you have working for you
- Ensure that there is an employee in your organisation who is responsible for monitoring the work of that contractor
- Identify any potential issues that could arise, and ensure that you put some safeguards in place
If you require advice as to the liability for contractors actions or other employment law advice then please contact Sarah Tahamtani on 0113 336 3314 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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