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Smith v Stages

[1989] AC 928

Case summary last updated at 20/01/2020 17:43 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Smith v Stages

D’s employers told him to go to another region to work and were given the cost of a rail fare but it was not specified how they should travel. The payment arrangements were such that after working for 13 hours D could take 8 hours sleep before driving back, though this was at D’s discretion. D instead decided to drive back straight away and negligently crashed into P who was injured. The question was whether D’s employer, X, was vicariously liable. HL held that X was liable since D was being paid for the whole trip and the journeys, even though the mode and time of transportation was at D’s discretion. 
Lord Lowry: D acted in the course of employment: he was paid not merely expenses but a wage for going to this region and was therefore “on his employer’s time” i.e. he was doing his job. “an employee travelling on the highway will be acting in the course of his employment if, and only if, he is at the material time going about his employer's business. One must not confuse the duty to turn up for one's work with the concept of already being "on duty" while travelling to it.” He states some “prima facie” rules: If one is travelling on the employer’s time OR is forced to use employer’s transport, one is in course of employment; (2) Receipt of wages indicates that one is on employer’s time; a person travelling between the employer’s centres of work is in the course of his employment; a deviation from such a journey will remove one from the course of employment. 

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