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The High Court has held a bank vicariously liable to claimants suing in respect of alleged sexual assaults by a doctor carrying out pre-employment medical examinations.

The doctor was an independent contractor carrying out (mostly) pre-employment medical examinations for Barclays Bank, up to the mid-80s. He did so at his home where he had a consulting room, and the bank paid him a fee for each examination. Many of the bank recruits were females aged 15 or 16. The doctor died in 2009. He also did medical examinations for a different employer (a mining company) and an insurance company, and carried out sessions at local hospitals.

In Various claimants v Barclays Bank plc the court held that if the alleged assaults were proved, Barclays Bank would be vicariously liable for the doctor’s actions, even though he was not an employee of the bank.

The case raises questions as to how far an employer may be liable for negligence of an OH practitioner not directly employed by it.

More: OH practitioner’s duty of care in civil law>Is an employer vicariously liable for negligence of an OH professional?