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Employer's liability: Dual vicarious liability possible

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    Viasystems (Tyneside) Ltd v Thermal Transfer (Northern) Ltd and others [2005] IRLR 983 CA (0 other reports)

Key points

In Viasystems (Tyneside) Ltd v Thermal Transfer (Northern) Ltd and others [2005] IRLR 983, the Court of Appeal holds:

  • More than one "employer" can be vicariously liable for the negligence of an employee, overturning a long-standing assumption that it is possible in law only for one employer to be so liable.
  • The Court should concentrate on the relevant negligent act and then ask whose responsibility it was to prevent it. In some cases the sensible answer will be that each employer had that responsibility. In this case, the fitter's mate whose "momentary foolishness" caused extensive flooding to a factory was under the control and supervision of both the fitter, with whom he worked, and the foreman on the spot.
  • The fitter and the fitter's mate were employed by subcontractors who supplied labour to the foreman's employer. In these circumstances the Court holds that there was dual vicarious liability, and that each employer should contribute 50% of the total liability to the factory owner.