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Various Claimants v Barclays Bank plc [2020] UKSC 13

By Oxbridge Law TeamUpdated 07/01/2024 20:54

Judgement for the case Various Claimants v Barclays Bank plc


  • To establish vicarious liability for the actions of one person, two essential requisites must concur:

    1. There must exist a relationship between the two individuals that justifies legal accountability for one person's actions on behalf of the other, and

    2. There must be a significant link between that relationship and the wrongful actions committed by the individual responsible for the tort.

  • Citing Salsbury v Woodland [1970] 1 QB 324:

The employer of an independent contractor is, in general, not liable for the negligence or other torts committed by the contractor in the course of the execution of the work.

  • If the individual responsible for the tort is operating their own business or is in a relationship with the defendant resembling employment, the five "incidents" outlined in the Christian Brothers case are not applicable.


  • Dr. Bates, a self-employed medical practitioner, conducted pre-employment medical examinations for Barclays job applicants.

  • Barclays arranged the appointments, provided a confidential medical report template, and paid Dr. Bates per report without a retainer. 

  • Allegations of sexual assault by Dr. Bates during examinations led to a group action by 126 claimants seeking damages from Barclays

  •  The lower court and Court of Appeal held Barclays vicariously liable for any proven assaults by Dr. Bates. Barclays appeals this decision to the Supreme Court.


  • Appeal allowed.


  • The court emphasizes that the "classic distinction" between employment or similar relationships and those with independent contractors remains intact. This distinction is pivotal in delineating the legal responsibility of the employer for the actions of the individual performing the work.

  • While the court acknowledges the potential use of the five "incidents" identified by Lord Phillips in earlier cases as indicators of a relationship sufficiently akin to employment, it underscores that the heart of the matter lies in a nuanced understanding of the details of the relationship.

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Tort Law Notes
1,070 total pages
853 purchased

Tort Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridg...