Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2214

Appeal against a finding that the Respondent company was not vicariously liable for the conduct of its managing director. Appeal allowed.

At a Christmas party, the managing director of the Respondent company physically attacked one of his employees leaving him severely disabled. The issue here was whether the company was vicariously liable for the actions of the MD. The court in 2016 said that it was not. The employee appealed.

The court allowed the appeal. There was sufficient connection between the MD's field of activities and the assault to render it just that the Respondent company should be vicariously liable for his actions.

The following words of Lord Justice Irwin are noteworthy:

"This case arose because of the way in which [the MD] chose to exert his authority, indeed his dominance as the only real decision-maker, in the company.


Liability will not arise merely because there is an argument about work matters between colleagues, which leads to an assault, even when one colleague is markedly more senior than another. This case is emphatically not authority for the proposition that employers became insurers for violent or other tortious acts by their employees."

Published: 12/10/2018 15:32

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