Legal News

The Supreme Court has held that a petrol station was vicariously liable for an attack by an employee which took place on the forecourt, and that the government was vicariously liable for a prisoner working in the prison kitchens who negligently injured a supervisor.

In the first case the petrol station attendant was an employee, so clearly had a sufficient relationship with the petrol station to create vicarious liability. The issue was whether the attack was closely enough connected with his employment. In Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets, the Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal decision to hold yes it was sufficiently connected. More: Vicarious liability.

In the second case, the prisoner was not an employee. However, in Cox v Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court held that the prisoner’s relationship with the prison service was such as could give rise to vicarious liability. Prisoners working in the kitchens were integrated into the prison’s business activities (particularly the activity of preparing meals for prisoners), and were placed by the prison service in a position where they may commit negligent acts within the field of activities assigned to them. The court’s approach in Cox is important in the context of modern workplaces where workers may in reality be part of the workforce of an organisation without having a contract of employment with it. Vicarious liability: People other than employees.