Criminal Law Essay
The doctrine of vicarious liability generally operates within the law of torts. It has become well-established in English law and historically has been called “Master and Servant liability,” which clearly indicates the circumstances in which the doctrine becomes applicable in tort law.
The general rule in tort law is that a person who authorises a tort will personally be liable for damage or harm as a result. However, vicarious liability defines the circumstances in which a person is liable for the torts of another without express authorisation or ratification. The most common example of vicarious liability is the liability of an employer for the torts of his employees committed in the course of …show more content…
For an employer to be held liable, the wrong must be committed “within the course of employment.” This criteria is a question of fact, and it is immaterial whether the wrong committed by the employee was authorised or not. An employer will only avoid liability in this situation if it can be shown that an employee acted “on a frolic of his own,” or in other words, if the employee acted in a way that was unconnected with his employment. Recently, the courts have been willing to impose liability in far-reaching circumstances on the issue of whether the wrong was committed “in the course of employment.” Important in this context is the case of Lister v. Hesley Hall Ltd. This case establishes that an employer cannot avoid liability by showing that an employee engaged in an intentional and unauthorised wrongdoing. Thus, the important factor in establishing vicarious liability is the connection with the “course of employment.” However, it is important to note that an employer cannot avoid liability if an employee acts in a way that could be described as “incidental” to his employment and the duties to which he is entrusted with. Therefore, in establishing whether vicarious liability exists, the question to be asked is firstly, whether the act complained of was committed “in the course of employment” and secondly, whether the act is reasonably “incidental” to the employee's employment duties. If there is