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Company Found Liable For Actions Of Its MD

October 17th, 2018

A recruitment agency has been held vicariously liable for the actions of its managing director, who punched a colleague at an informal gathering after the company’s Christmas party.

Mr Major, the managing director, became angry with one of his employees, Mr Bellman, when he questioned his authority. He then punched Mr Bellman, causing injuries that have left him with traumatic brain damage, Personnel Today reported.

The incident occurred at an informal gathering following the work Christmas party, although the company paid for taxis to the hotel, as well as for much of the alcohol served at this stage in the evening.

In Mr Bellman’s initial case against Northampton Recruitment, the company was found to not be vicariously liable for the actions of its MD.

However, the Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of Mr Bellman after considering Mr Major’s role at the firm, the fact that the misconduct “was triggered by a challenge to his managerial authority”, and that the situation was exacerbated by the alcohol provided.

Sybille Steiner, employment partner at Irwin Mitchell, told the news provider that companies need to be aware that an incident taking place at an impromptu party, rather than an official Christmas do, won’t necessarily protect a business.

She described it as “a significant decision”, adding: “If a senior member of staff uses the after party to assert their authority and assaults someone, vicarious liability is likely to follow.”

Employees should also think about their conduct at this year’s work Christmas parties. Last December, the Metro published an article warning people that they can still face disciplinary action for behaving badly at a work Christmas party.

If you are unsure of how to deal with a situation that arises at a work party, make sure you speak to employment solicitors to find out where you stand.

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