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  • Writer's pictureEvan Sarinas

Clarifying Vicarious Liability: Employer Responsibility Explained

Updated: Apr 25

It is well understood that employers can be held legally responsible (i.e. liable) for the actions of their employees committed within the course of scope of their employment. This is called the doctrine of vicarious liability.


Recent case law in this area has further clarified the extent of vicarious liability for employers.

 

In this series of articles, we will explore these judgments, to help educate employers and employees on the current state of the law.


The case of CCIG Investments Pty Ltd v Shokman [2023] HCA 21 was an appeal to the High Court of Australia, where the Court considered whether an employee's wrongful (and quite frankly, grotesque) act committed during shared accommodation at work fell within the scope of vicarious liability.


The High Court held that the employer (Daydream Island Resort) was not vicariously liable for the employee's actions towards the Plaintiff.


The responsible employee was not assigned any special role or authority over the Plaintiff, and the shared accommodation between the two men merely provided the "opportunity" for his drunken actions.


This "opportunity" was not a sufficiently strong connection with the employment to establish vicarious liability against the employer.


The employer did not authorise or require the drunken act, and it was not incidental to the employment.


For those reasons, the High Court found in favour of the employer, and the Plaintiff's case was unsuccessful, despite him suffering significant loss and damage.


For guidance on understanding vicarious liability and its implications for your business or employment in Townsville, contact Sarinas Legal today. Recent case law highlights the importance of staying informed, so don't hesitate to seek advice tailored to your specific situation. Act now to safeguard your interests and mitigate potential legal risks.

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