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Not a "sufficiently close connection” in Morrisons case

14 February 2014

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in the case of Ahmed Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (2014), a damages claim by a customer who was assaulted and injured by a sales assistant at a supermarket petrol kiosk. Morrisons had no reason to think the employee might be violent, but the claimant relied on the mere fact that there was interaction between a customer and a sales assistant to allege vicarious liability, seeking to significantly widen the scope of this principle.

The judge at first instance had rejected the claimant’s case.

The Court of Appeal, whilst recognising that each case will turn on its facts, held that the interaction was not sufficient to make the employer liable for the assault. Careful consideration needs to be given to the closeness of the connection between the tort and the employee’s duties. The fact that employment provides the opportunity for an assault in itself is not enough. Thankfully common sense has prevailed.

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