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Employers Liability Notes

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This is an extract of our Employers Liability document, which we sell as part of our GDL Tort Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students.

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A non-delegable and personal duty (McDermid v Nash Dredging that the employer has to each employee individually (Paris v
Stepney Borough Council)
Wilsons and Clyde Coal v English [1938] - HoL held that there is a general duty owed by an employer to an employee to protect employees

Lord Wright clarified three sub-headings of this duty:
 1) Provision of competent staff
 2) Provision of adequate and safe equipment
 3) Provision of a safe place of work (can be merged into 2/4)
 4) A proper system of adequate supervision.
o This duty exists at common law, independent of statute.
The scope is limited. E.g. An employer does not necessarily owe a duty of care to protect an employee from purely economic or reputational harm (James-Bowen v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2018])
Wilson v Tyneside Window [1958] - these subheading are for convenience, there is a great deal of overlap.

1) Provision of competent staff

The employer has an obligation to employ reasonably competent fellow employees to work alongside the claimant.
Inc monitoring and disciplining the employees.
o Hudson v Ridge Manufacturing [1957] - C injured by fellow employee (a 'not over-intelligent habitual practical joker) in a prank. Foreman had seen past behaviour and reprimanded employee.
 Held that there was a breach. Where employer knew of behaviour should have taken greater steps to prevent future actions or dismissed workers.
o Smith v Crossley [1951] - injured fellow employee in one-off practical joke. Not a serial 'joker'. Employer not liable.
 However, be liable under vicarious liability as was in the course of employment.
o May be an action against employee himself is possible but likely a waste of time financially.

2) Provision of adequate equipment

Smith v Baker [1891] per Lord Herschell
 An employer has a "duty of taking reasonable care to provide proper appliances, and to maintain them in proper condition."
o This approach was deemed too generous to employer by
 Employers' Liability (Defective Equipment) Act 1969

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