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Serious Injury at Drinking Session After Works Party Not Employer’s Responsibility

Employers should ensure it is clear when works events have ended, meaning that their liability for the safety and wellbeing of their workforce has also ended – otherwise they risk being found vicariously liable for post-event injuries, a recent case highlights.

A director seriously injured a manager in an incident which took place after a group had gone to a hotel room to carry on drinking after their works Christmas party had ended.

The manager sued the company (and its insurers) on grounds the employer was vicariously liable for its director’s actions. To succeed, he had to show that the director was ‘acting in the course or scope of his employment’.

The manager failed in his claim: the High Court ruled that the employer would have been vicariously liable if the incident had taken place at the party, however, it took place during a private drinking session. The director was not therefore acting in the course or scope of his employment and the employer was not vicariously liable.

Operative date
• Now

Recommendation
• Employers should ensure it is clear when works events have ended, so the employer’s liability for the safety and wellbeing of their workforce has therefore also ended.

Case ref: Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd [2016] EWHC 3104

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Jonathan Waters is the founder of Helix Law. Before qualifying as a Solicitor he worked in industry and in investment banking for over a decade. He was also the Partner in charge of Commercial Litigation, Employment Law and Property Litigation at Stephen Rimmer LLP. Jonathan has wide experience of helping and advising businesses to avoid or to deal with commercial disputes and in particular construction disputes.

This article is written to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and cannot be relied on as such. Helix Law is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of  this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice. 

Contact Helix Law on 01273 761 990 or email: [email protected]