Vicarious Liability

What is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is a situation where a person is held responsible for the actions or omissions of another individual. For example, in the workplace, an employer can be liable for the actions or omissions of its employees; if the event occurred in the course of their employment.

Legislative Changes and Vicarious Liability

Vicarious Liability may not be the most appealing subject to read about, however, recent legislative changes have meant that your legal liability may have changed.  There have been two recent pieces of Scottish Legislation which could have a bearing on your legal liability.

Limitation(Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017:

Coming into force in June 2017, the Limitation(Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 amends the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 and removes the time limit for raising claims in respect of any form of childhood abuse. (This was previously 3 years after injury is suffered- or knowing that injury has occurred)  Furthermore, this also means that an action can be re-raised if the previous action had been fought and lost.

Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Act 2018:

The Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Act 2018  came into effect on the 5th of June 2018 (although most of the act is not in force yet) and states that the pursuer will not be liable for the defender’s expenses(except in certain circumstances).

Why are these legislations important?

There is a view that these new legislative acts could lead to a significant increase in the number of claims going forward. The Scottish Government estimates that there are presently 2,200 potential cases arising from historic child abuse. However, critics do consider this figure to be “conservative”.

Vicarious liability is the concept whereby an employer is liable for the actions of the persons whom it employs and providing that the action complained of is sufficiently closely connected to the employment.

There have been three Supreme Court Cases and several other Court Cases in recent years in which vicarious liability has been imposed. The likelihood is that many more cases will arise in the years to come. Vicarious Liability is a civil liability for something someone else has done and you can be held liable – even if you have done nothing wrong.

Moreover; even if the wrong thing is unknown to you, unauthorised by you and adverse to you, you could still be liable. You could still be liable even if you told the person not to do the very thing which leads to the claim.

What can you do to protect yourself?

There are several Insurance policies that can respond to this new legislation. Where existing policies are in place, these should be reviewed to ensure that the policy wordings are robust and that there are no endorsements in place which could negate the cover.

Unsure if you need to make changes to any existing policies? Get in touch and we can help point you in the right direction.

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