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social Work – Here's our Promised Update on Vicarious Liability

27 February 2012

Below is the update I promised in my previous blog on this case and I’ve also written a fuller summary.

Judgement was given on Friday, 24 February.  The 67 year old claimant complained that he was sexually abused by the adult son (a retired Anglican priest) of the warden and matron of a Children’s Society home in 1959.  The priest’s estate settled the claim for £10,000 but the claim against the Society proceeded on the basis that it was vicariously liable for the action of the son.  The judge found the evidence had been so badly affected by time that it was impossible to have a fair trial.  He also dismissed the argument that the society was liable for the action of the abuser.

However the judge made it clear that the test for vicarious liability is fact sensitive.  Each case will depend on its own fact, and our experience suggests that the lawyers involved in this case are up for pushing those boundaries.

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