Wilsons & Clyde Coal Co Ltd v English  3 All ER 628 [HL] duties
- Lord Wright saw the employer’s common law duty as comprising three separate duties:
(1) Competent staff
(2) Adequate material (i.e. plant, equipment and machinery)
(3) A proper system of work and supervision
Latimer v AEC Ltd  2 All ER 449 [HL]
- In addition to the duties above, the House of Lords added the duty to take reasonable steps to provide a safe
place of work
Hudson v Ridge Manufacturing Co Ltd  2 QB 348 staff
- For nearly four year, an employee of the defendant had made a nuisance of himself to his fellow
- He had been reprimanded many times by the foreman, but no further action was taken
- One day, the employee tripped up the claimant and injured him
- It was held that the potentially dangerous misbehaviour had been known to the employers for a long time
and they had failed to prevent it.
Waters v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  1 WLR 1607 [HL]
- Confirmed that duty is owed when an employer knows, or ought to know, about the risk a particular worker
poses to his colleagues.
- Also confirmed that the risk could be of psychological harm.
General Cleaning Contractors v Christmas  AC 180 [HL] workplace
- Confirmed that the common law duty to provide a safe workplace applies regardless of where the
employees are at work.
Stress at work
Walker v Northumberland County Council  1 All ER 737
- The Court of Appeal confirmed that the duty to provide a safe system of work can extend to an employee
who has suffered stress as a result of his work.
Hatton v Sutherland  2 All ER 1
- Laid down guidelines as to how the courts should deal with stress at work claims
Barber v Somerset County Council  2 All ER 385
- Confirmed guidelines set out above
Paris v Stepney Borough Council  1 All ER 42 [HL] duty -
- The claimant had the use of only one eye Reasonable
- Whilst working, a piece of metal got caught in his good eye and he became blind steps
- The defendant did not provide goggles, but there was evidence that it was not normal practice for
employers to supply goggles to men employed in garages
- The court held that in the circumstances, the defendants owed a special duty of care to the claimant, and
whether or not goggles should have been provided for the regular workers, they should definitely have been
provided for the claimant
Must be an
Ready Mixed Concrete (South East) Ltd v Minister of Pensions and employee not
National Insurance  1 All ER 433 a contractor
- Established a test to distinguish employees from contractors (the ‘multiple test’).
Lister v Hesley Hall Ltd  1 AC 215 employment
- ‘…A master is not responsible for a wrongful act done by his servant unless it is done in the course of his
employment. It is deemed to be so done if it is either (a) a wrongful act authorised by the master, or (b) a
wrongful and unauthorised mode of doing some act authorised by the master’ Sir John Salmond.
Poland v Parr  All ER 177
- A man, thinking a boy was about to steal from his employer’s wagon, hit him on the back of the neck
causing the boy to fall under the wheels of the wagon, injuring his foot.
- The court found that as the man was protecting his employer’s property, he had implied permission to push
away the thief.
- The employer therefore authorised the tort (battery) the employee committed.
Warren v Henley’s Ltd  2 All ER 935
- An employee was insulted by a customer and punched him in the face.
- It was found that the retaliation was a personal act not authorised or connected with his employment.
Century Insurance v NI Road Transport Board  1 All ER
- A lorry driver was delivering petrol to a garage.
- Whilst the petrol was being transferred, the driver lit a cigarette and threw away the match.
- There was an explosion and a lot of damage was caused.
- It was found that the driver was doing an authorised act in an unauthorised way and therefore the employer
Harrison v Michelin Tyre Co Ltd  1 All ER 918
- An employee pushing a truck along a passageway deliberately, as an act of horseplay, swerved colliding
with something another employee was standing on.
- It was held that the employee was doing his job, but in a careless way.
- Therefore the employer was found vicariously liable.
Rose v Plenty  1 All ER 97
- A milkman had been expressly told (by a clear notice) not to allow children to help him or ride on his float.
- Contrary to this, the milkman employed a young boy, and he was injured due to the negligent driving of the
- The court held that the employment of the boy, although prohibited, was within the scope of the milkman’s
employment having been performed for the purpose of the employer’s business.
- Accordingly, they were found vicariously liable.
Twine v Bean’s Express (1946) 175 LT 131 [HL]
- A van driver gave a lift to a hitch-hiker despite being prohibited by his employer from giving lifts.
- The passenger then died in an accident caused by the van driver’s negligence.
- Lord Greene MR deciding that the negligence of the driver was outside his course of employment
Lloyd v Grace, Smith & Co  AC 716 torts
- A conveyancing clerk used his position to fraudulently transfer property into his own name.
- The court found the fraud stemmed from an act that his employer had authorised him to do (transfer
property) and so it fell within his course of employment.
Lister & others v Hesley Hall Ltd  2 All ER 769 [HL]
- The claimants were resident at a school for boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties, owned by the
- Unbeknown to his employers, the warden sexually abused the claimants while they were at the school
- The claimants bought an action against the defendants
- The court held that there was a sufficient connection between the warden’s work and the acts in question
Hilton v Thomas Burton (Rhodes) Ltd  1 All ER 74
- Demolition workers were driving to a café when they realised they did not have time to go in before
returning to work.
- On the way back, one driver negligently crashed the van killing one of the drivers
- It was found that the driver was, at the time, not doing anything he was employed to do, and so the
employer was not liable
Harvey v R G O’Dell Ltd  2 QB 78
- Established that stopping for lunch was held to be reasonably incidental to one’s work
Lister v Romford Ice & Cold Storage Co Ltd  1 All ER 125 Indemnity
- the employer has a right at common law to claim an indemnity (i.e. its full loss) from the employee who
committed the tort.
Claims for Breach of Statutory Duty
Lonrho Ltd v Shell Petroleum Co  2 All ER 456 of persons
- If the relevant statute protects a limited ascertainable class rather than the public generally, it is more likely
that a claim in tort will lie for breach of its provisions.
Groves v Lord Wimborne  All ER Rep 147 statute
- AL Smith LJ decided that the principal reasons for deciding whether the remedy provided was adequate
were as follows:
(a) The financial level of the penalty when compared with the claimant’s loss. Parliament clearly could not
have intended this (£100) to be adequate and exclusive compensation for serious injury or death.
(b) The Secretary of State had a discretion whether to apply all or part of the fine for the benefit of the
injured person. There was, therefore, no certainty that the injured employee would receive any of it.
(c) The amount of the fine was to be assessed by reference to the nature of the offence rather than the
severity of the injury
Chipchase v British Titan  1 QB 545 statutory
- Regulation 22(c) of the Building (Safety, Health and Welfare) Regulations 1948 requires that ‘every duty: Duty
working platform from which a person is liable to fall more than 6’6” shall be … (c) at least 34” wide…”
- A workman was injured when he fell from a platform 9” wide and 6’ above the ground.
- It was held that the employers were not liable.
Hartley v Mayoh & Co  1 QB 383
- A fireman was electrocuted whilst attending a fire at a factory
- The widow sued the owner for breach of a statutory duty owed to ‘persons employed in the factory’
- The claim was unsuccessful
Gorris v Scott (1874) 9 LR Exch 125
- The defendant was moving the claimant’s sheep to England by sea
- On the journey, some of the sheep were washed overboard
- The claimant sought to claim in breach of statutory duty in relation to the Contagious Diseases (Animals)
- The claim failed due to the type of damage being different to those in the statute
McWilliams v Arrol  1 All ER 623
- An employee failed in his claim for breach of statutory duty owed by his employer to provide a safety
- The evidence showed he would not have worn the harness even if it had been provided, and so the
employee failed to show that the ‘but for’ test was satisfied.
Wheeler v New Merton Mills  2 KB 669
- As a matter of policy, the defence will not be available where an employee sues his employer for breach of
the employer’s statutory duty, as to allow it would in essence defeat the purpose (protection of workers) of
imposing statutory duties on employers in the first place
ICI v Shatwell  AC 656
- The claimant (an injured employee) knew about the risk associated with a work practice that his employer
had forbidden him and a colleague to follow.
- This practice also breached a statutory duty imposed on ‘employees’ within this particular field.
- With this knowledge and in deliberate defiance of the employer’s order, the claimant and his college
continued with the work practice in question
- The claimant was injured and sued his employer as vicariously liable for his colleague’s breach of statutory
- The court found the claimant had consented to the risk on injury.
Bux v Slough Metals  1 All ER 262 between statute
- An employer provided goggles for all employees to wear while handling molten metal and common
- The claimant, an employee, did not wear the goggles, and subsequently got molten metal in his eyes law duties
- The employer was found to have complied with the statutory obligation by providing goggles, but did not
ensure the goggles were used, therefore becoming liable in Negligence