Employer not liable for post party Christmas assault

Employer not liable for post Christmas party assault

Employers can be found vicariously liable for the actions of their staff, but only if these occur in the course of their employment. Whilst an employer can, in some circumstances, be held legally responsible for an injury to a worker sustained during an office function, the High Court has ruled that a recruitment company was not liable for serious injuries inflicted by one member of staff on another some hours after a planned Christmas event had finished (Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Limited).

Clive Bellman worked as the sales manager for Northampton Recruitment Limited. He sought £1 million in damages from his employer after he suffered a fractured skull and very severe traumatic brain injury as a result of being punched in the face by John Major, the managing director of the company. The incident took place after the work Christmas party at a golf club had passed without event and staff members had adjourned to the bar of the nearby Hilton Hotel. This was not a pre-planned extension to the party.

For some time the conversation was on social and sporting topics, but later turned to work matters.At around 3:00am, Mr Major became angry with Mr Bellman after he questioned one of his management decisions. He twice punched him hard in the face and Mr Bellman fell, hitting his head on the marble floor. His head injuries were so serious that he is unlikely to return to any paid employment and lacks the capacity to manage his own affairs.

Lawyers acting for Mr Bellman claimed that Northampton Recruitment was vicariously liable for Mr Major's actions and the consequences of the attack because he was acting 'in the course or scope of his employment'. The High Court disagreed, however. In its view, what took place at the hotel was a drunken discussion that resulted from a personal choice to consume more alcohol long after the works event had ended. The fact that the dispute was about work did not provide a sufficient connection to support a finding of vicarious liability against the company that employed the two men.

They had gone to the hotel for an impromptu drink, which by the time Mr Major delivered the punches had become an entirely independent and voluntary early hours drinking session, which the Court described as 'a frolic' of their own. It was of a very different nature from the Christmas party and was unconnected with Northampton Recruitment's business.

The judge went on to say that to hold that the fact that work-related matters were discussed at the hotel provided a foundation for liability would render such social events potentially uninsurable

Your details

Please note we are unable to offer legal aid

Message

Fields marked with a * must be completed.

  • We engaged Rose and Rose to recover a bad debt. Their service was excellent and we recovered the full amount plus costs with minimal effort. I have no hesitation in recommending their services and we will certainly use them in the future.
  • Trustworthy and efficient service from this team of friendly and professional solicitors. I would recommend Rose and Rose.
  • Rose and Rose Kingston provided extensive support to me whilst selling my property. We had a number of challenges to overcome but at no point did I feel I did not know what was happening in the process. They are extremely helpful, supportive and explained everything to me in simple terms. In future I will only recommend and use Rose and Rose.
  • We have recommended the services of Rose and Rose many times to either our clients selling properties or their buyers. Every time we have a transaction where they are involved it gives us great reassurance that the deal will be done efficiently, that updates are always available and that the parties involved have a clear understanding of the transaction. Those that we have referred to Rose and Rose have always been extremely happy with the service and have achieved the right end result.
  • Rose and Rose are now officially my favourite and most helpful solicitor.
  • Rose and Rose were exceptional to deal with. Instructed by a buyer of ours they were nothing but helpful and pleasant throughout the transaction, always at the end of the telephone if needed, and as a result of their obvious expertise the sale went through effortlessly. I can highly recommend them.
  • Both my sister and I used Rose and Rose for our conveyancing. We were extremely happy with the service provided, it was professional, friendly and expedient. I would definitely use Rose and Rose in the future.
  • Rose and Rose provided an excellent service when it came to selling our property and buying another. We were able to contact them when needed and we found them approachable and efficient. We would have no hesitation in recommending this solicitor.
  • I have no hesitation in recommending Rose and Rose who acted for me in the sale and purchase of my home.
  • Rose and Rose are the best solicitors that I have dealt with, and the only one I will be dealing with from now on. The professional approach and service they offer is second to none. Their ability to always keep you informed with what is going on has been extremely helpful and given me peace of mind.
  • Rose and Rose recently handled the conveyancing for the sale of our property and we were extremely impressed with the level of service we received. The overall process was quick and efficient. Although these matters can be extremely stressful the staff involved were friendly, thoughtful and approachable yet totally professional throughout. This in effect enabled the sale to proceed relatively smoothly. I would therefore not hesitate to employ the services of Rose and Rose in the future. Robert P
  • Rose and Rose have helped me with conveyancing but also with my divorce and not only have they done a good job, they have ensured my costs have been contained as much as possible. They offer an exceptionally good service and explain the law in plain English, they are very friendly and easy to deal with.
  • Great, helpful advice and support from people who understand what you want and deliver in a straightforward manner in plain English. I highly recommend Rose and Rose Solicitors in Kingston.
  • I have used Rose and Rose Solicitors on a number of occasions and have always found them to be extremely friendly and helpful. They always provide excellent advice and do so in a cost effective manner whilst maintaining an extremely personal service and they really seem to care about you. I would have no problem in recommending their services to any of my friends, family and clients.
  • Rose & Rose Solicitors have a surprisingly refreshing approach to the Law. Whilst obviously highly committed and professional they are relaxed, friendly and approachable making all your dealings with them, in often very difficult circumstances, as stress free as possible. Highly recommend. Rose & Rose is a well rounded solicitors' firm, they have managed to help us through our business legal requirements with their fast, reliable and cost effective service. They have met our demand and need every time. Rose & Rose in Kingston successfully assisted my girlfriend's business in clawing back a large chunk of bad debt that a company were refusing to pay. I was so impressed with the simplicity and ease in which they dealt with the situation that I will use Rose & Rose Solicitors to represent all my own company's legal requirements including employment contracts, conveyancing, dispute resolution, etc. Rose and Rose provide their considerable expertise in a relaxed, friendly and unstuffy way. They have assisted my company and my clients and I would not hesitate to recommend them.
  • We have been involved in a number of sales where Rose and Rose have represented either the buyer or seller and on every occasion they have been a pleasure to deal with. The team make themselves very available and always respond to messages and emails quickly and always seem to be in command of a situation. This is so important to us as we need to keep our customers up to speed at all times. We aspire to delivering excellent service to our customers and they certainly help a great deal in this respect. Our customers who have used Rose and Rose have all been complimentary about the service they have received and how easy everyone there is to deal with.