In Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc Mr Mohamud was assaulted both verbally and physically by an employee of Morrisons and raised a personal injury claim against the supermarket chain. The question was whether or not Morrisons could be vicariously liable for these actions.
The accepted position with regards to vicarious liability is that for an employer to be liable for the acts of its employees, there needs to be a sufficiently close connection between the employee's acts and their employment so that it would be just and equitable for the employer to be liable. On this basis, in Mohamud, both the court at first instance and the Court of Appeal held that Morrisons should not be vicariously liable because there was not a sufficiently close connection between the assault and the employee's role working in the kiosk in the petrol station. However, the Supreme Court disagreed.
The Supreme Court reviewed the relevant case law and commented that it had partly developed as a result of public policy considerations. It held that a broad approach should be taken when considering the questions of whether a close connection exists. In this instance, the Supreme Court stated that the employee's role was to serve customers and in carrying out the assault, the employee had been responding to a request from a customer and had been seeking to prevent the customer from attending the employer's premises again. Consequently, the court took the view that there was a sufficiently close connection between the employee's conduct and his employment and that as such, Morrisons should be vicariously liable.