Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal


The Doctrine of Vicarious Liability is a unique exception to the principle of fault-based liability and holds persons liable for the actions of third parties. The recent verdicts in Wm Morrison Supermarkets v Various Claimants (2020) and Various Claimants v Barclays Bank (2020) by the Supreme Court of UK restricting the scope of vicarious liability through its interpretation of the akin to employment test as well as the close connection test deserves scrutiny. The Supreme Court apart from reaffirming the traditional distinction between independent contractors and employees also has limited the circumstances in which claims of vicarious liability can be upheld. Given that tort law in India is deeply rooted in common law of UK, it is unsurprising that principally vicarious liability in India and UK has evolved in a similar manner. The paper analyses the various principled justifications behind the doctrine and focuses on the various tests such as the akin to employment test, course of employment test, and close connection test which are used to impose liability. Further, it comprehensively examines the evolution of the doctrine in UK and India, and analyses the varying approach taken by the judiciary in both countries against the backdrop of the socio-economic conditions of the workforce. Lastly, the paper identifies the difficulties that the doctrine may face in the future.



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