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The Law Of Tort: Case Study


You have been asked to contribute to a seminar about the Law of Tort and the role it plays in business activities. You are part of a team who are identifying and explaining issues from the basis of tortious liability. Identify what must be proved to support an action in tort, contrast it with liability in contract law and advise liability in the particular case.

The team has to allocate responsibility for the content of the seminar between its members but each member may be questioned on any section of the content. 


Ben and Jerry are employed to work moving goods in a warehouse owned by Prime Products Limited. The business has grown over the past year, and Ben and Jerry’s workload has increased. Ben also has to do a large amount of the firm’s paperwork. Six months ago, feeling stressed from the long hours of work, he spoke to the warehouse owner about recruiting a third person to assist in the warehouse or to do the paperwork. The owner refused, saying that they could not afford extra help.

Last week Ben phoned in sick and his doctor has diagnosed a nervous breakdown. Jerry was left to cope on his own and needed to lift a piece of heavy machinery. Look Lively Limited had instructed Ben and Jerry that the machinery should only be lifted by two people, but Jerry lifted it anyway. It fell, trapping his leg. 

David, another employee, rushed to assist Jerry and successfully used a lever to move the machinery from Jerry’s leg, but as he lowered the lever, it suddenly snapped and a piece of metal flew up and cut David’s arm badly. David says that there was nothing apparently wrong with the lever.

Advise (1)Ben, (2)Jerry and (3)David as to any claims they may have against their employer and whether any defences are available to the company.

Comment on and apply the principle of vicarious liability and the defence of contributory negligence, in particular.


  • What is vicarious liability?
  • When is an employer vicariously liable for the actions of its employees?
  • What are the 4 common law duties owed by an employer to its employees?
  • What are the 3 points to be proved in any claim based on negligence?
  • Would Ben be successful in a claim against his employer, and why?
  • What is “contributory negligence?
  • Would Prime Products Ltd be able to use the defence of “contributory negligence” in any claim by Jerry?
  • Would David be successful in a claim against Prime Products Ltd?

Title: The Law Of Tort: Case Study
Length: 6 pages (1126 Words)
Style: MLA


The Law of Tort: Case Study

What is vicarious liability?

Vicarious liability is used in reference to a situation where an individual or group is held responsible for omissions or actions of another individual or group. In the workplace scenario, the employer can be held liable for the omissions or acts of the employees. This is possible only when there is justifiable proof that the omissions or actions occurred in the course of the employment or as the employee tried to disburse the employment duties and responsibilities. The responsibility comes under the common law doctrine activity and relates to the responsibilities of the superiors for the omissions or acts of their subordinates. It also entails the duties and responsibility of any third party that is obliged to the ‘right’ duty or ability to take control of the workplace situations, activities, and scenarios. It is a tort doctrine that imposes some responsibility upon an individual for intended or unintended failure of another with whom the individual in question has a specially defined relationship.

When is an employer vicariously liable for the actions of its employees?

 Employers can be liable for actions committed by their employees in the course of duty.


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