Casenote: Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC

AuthorMartha Ní Dhochartaigh
PositionSenior Freshman, LL.B. (Business) candidate at Trinity College Dublin
© 2017 Martha Ní Dhochartaigh and Dublin University Law Society
The question of whether a person is acting within the scope of their
employment is central to the doctrine of vicarious liability. In 2016, a
discernible shift in the UK Supreme Court’s interpretation of the
meaning of ‘within the scope of their employment’ was evident in
Mohamud v Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc,
where the application of the
‘close connection test’ was broadened. In this case, the UK Supreme
Court examined the question of whether or not there were grounds for
the appeal of the claimant (Mohamud) who was verbally and physically
assaulted by an employee of the defendant (Morrisons). The claimant
submitted that the close connection test should be replaced with a
broader test of whether an employee was acting as a representative of
the company. After an extensive examination of the development of
vicarious liability, it was held that the close connection test should be
retained, albeit in an altered form. The court expanded the ‘close
connection test’ to one of ‘causal connection.’ This broadening of the
close connection test has implications that significantly alter the nature
of vicarious liability by increasing the potential liability of employers
over their employees.
I. Background
Historically, the test for determining vicarious liability was the Salmond
test. It defined a tort committed by a servant in the course of their
employment as ‘(a) a wrongful act authorised by the master or (b) a
wrongful and unauthorised mode of doing some act authorised by the
* Senior Freshman, LL.B. (Business) candidate at Trinity College Dublin. The author wishes
to acknowledge Dáire McMullin, Senior Editor at the Trinity College Law Review, for his
helpful suggestions throughout the editing process. Special thanks to the author’s family
and friends, especially Barbara, Albert, and Javier, for their constant support and
encouragement. All errors and omissions remain the author’s own.
[2016] UKSC 11, [2016] AC 677.

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