AtkinsonNotary Blogs are back HOORAY

AtkinsonNotary Blogs are back. (and the final Chapter in the Wm Morrison saga)

The absence of our regular blogs was a merely trivial consequence of the present CV19 plague, but we missed them and now hope to resume them.

Louise and I have now re-opened our office.

Please note that our office premises are closed to visitors but we have a cunning plan!

I have a camper van – 6 metres long – which is parked in the office carpark where we can meet you. I sit at one end, masked – you sit at a table at the other end. And a splash of hand sanitizer before and after we meet.

Also, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has partially re-opened after being closed for three weeks. Apostilles are likely to take over a week to obtain.

Many consular offices have closed and others are working on reduced service; we can advise you as required.

Anyway – the Blog.

Earlier Blogs related to recent litigation on the topic of “Vicarious Liability”. This is the concept that if you are hurt by the fault of an employee who is at work in the course of his business duties, but that employee cannot afford to provide adequate compensation, then you can address your claim to the employer.

The sort of thing – You are run over by a brewery lorry delivering barrels to local pubs and it turns out the driver knew the brakes weren’t working properly but hadn’t bothered to tell the Brewery.

The Brewery might well truthfully say – if he had bothered to tell us, we would have fixed the brakes so this really isn’t our fault.

Even so, the law from as long ago as the 18th Century has said in the words of Chief Justice Holt “For seeing somebody must be a loser, it is more reason, that he that employs and puts a trust and confidence…should be a loser rather than a stranger’.

My earlier blogs about vicarious liability both involved by complete co-incidence the unfortunate employer Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc.

The first one is about the petrol pump attendant who went fully “postal”. The link is here
Morrisons were held vicariously liable to compensate.

The second is the case of their data protection officer who went rogue and put private, personal details of over one hundred thousand employees on the internet. Again, Morrisons lost the case and are held liable to compensate. The link is here

That case then was appealed by Morrisons who lost the appeal because the appeal Court followed the reasoning of the Judge of the first Court.

In both cases the legal discussions and arguments reminded us that the Law was and remains that:- There cannot be vicarious liability unless both of two factors are present,

First the person causing the damage must be, broadly speaking, “at work” that is, doing stuff the employer is paying for.

So if you are run over by the brewery lorry on a Saturday night when the driver is not at work but has taken it for a drive without permission, that test may not be met

And second, that there is “sufficient connection between the employment position and the wrongful conduct”

So in the first Morrison case, the petrol station attendant who punched and assaulted the customer had gone mad and certainly any employer would dismiss him but he was nevertheless (albeit consumed with unreasonable rage) shouting at the poor victim that he was barred from Morrisons and must never come back there. He was clearly, in his deluded mind, “at work” and “exercising his authority as an employee”.

So, in that case, the tests were met and Morrisons have to pay for the consequences even though their only fault was to trust their employee to behave properly and there had been no previous suggestion that he would not.

And in the second case also, the facts could be seen to be similar. – An employee who was trusted to do his job properly, suddenly turned rogue.

So in all three of the times that that case was heard before Courts, the argument of Morrisons was the same. Which is that the IT Data controller was not “at work” in the way that the mad petrol pump man was “at work”.

Morrisons argued, this was quite different:- that in this case, Mr Skelton was a trusted employee in the IT and data handling department of Morrisons, trusted to liaise with the Company accountants and supply sensitive data when necessary.

Although the Company knew that Mr Skelton had recently been disciplined for sending his own personal postage through the firm’s post room [even though he had paid for the stamps he used!] and it also knew that he felt that the treatment he had received was unnecessary and unfair, it had no reason to suppose that ideas of revenge would fester in his mind until they lead him to release the entire employee personal database contents onto the internet.

And Mr Skelton did not do that “on behalf of” Morrisons. He was not a petrol -pump man in uniform shouting and screaming “stay away from my employer’s business premises”.

Quite the contrary, he was a bitter man plotting in his bedroom how best to attack Morrisons and “make them pay” for his perceived injustice.

Eventually, Morrisons has found a judge who agrees.

Here is a link to the case transcript

So – you know – Glory Be and thank you for that.

We are perhaps left wondering why it has taken three court appearances over two years and left Morrisons millions of pounds out of pocket before an answer has finally been arrived at – the answer being what you might think any level headed observer would have expected from the beginning.

Mick and Keef were not in the Courtroom, but in their place the barristers told the Court once and told it twice and it never listened to their advice. Until the last time – link here

It is good to be able to finish by saying: – We are back at work, so please do contact me or Louise whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)