Employers could be held responsible for the actions of contract staff working on their premises following a Court of Appeal judgment on vicarious liability.
A leisure company was last week held liable for the actions of one of its nightclub doormen, despite the fact he was an agency worker.
The doorman punched a man visiting a nightclub, owned by Luminar Leisure in Southend, causing him to hit his head and suffer permanent brain damage.
Luminar denied liability on the basis that the doorman was neither an employee nor a ‘temporary deemed employee’.
However, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court finding that the nightclub exercised sufficient control over its doormen to make the bouncer a ‘temporary deemed employee’ for the purpose of vicarious liability.
The doormen were subject to the club’s code of conduct, and were also issued with instructions on how to deal with troublesome customers by the nightclub’s manager.
Greg Cain, employment partner at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, said the case served as a warning to any employer that used contract staff on a regular basis.
“This principle of liability is not new but, depending on the level of control employers retain, they may be held responsible for the actions of contract workers,” he said.