0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

employer not responsible for former employee’s data breach

2 April 2020

The long-awaited Supreme Court decision has been published in the case of WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc v Various Claimants.

In 2018, the Court of Appeal found the company vicariously liable for its employee’s actions. An IT Internal Auditor, aggrieved at receiving a disciplinary sanction, copied payroll data of almost 100,000 employees and posted it on a file sharing website. This led to a class action by more than 5,000 employees.

The Supreme Court has now found that the company was not liable for the employee’s actions. His wrongful disclosure was not sufficiently closely connected with his ordinary duties that it could be regarded as being done while the employee was acting in the ordinary course of his employment. His employment simply gave him the opportunity to commit the act, in order to pursue a personal vendetta. This did not mean that the employer should be responsible for it.

The Court of Appeal decision in 2018 attracted a great deal of interest, as it meant that there was little that employers could do to protect themselves. Whilst employers still can be found vicariously liable when an employee is engaged in furthering his or her employer’s business when an act takes place, they will not be found liable where an employee was “on a frolic of their own”. Employers will breathe a sigh of relief as a result.

related opinions

Employer obliged to pay settlement despite employees confidentiality breach

In Duchy Farm Kennels Ltd v Steels the employer was found not to have been relieved of its obligation to pay a settlement sum, despite the former employee having breached the confidentiality clause contained in the settlement agreement.

View blog

Furlough scheme extended to October

The Chancellor announced on Tuesday 12th May 2020 that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is to be extended to the end of October.

View blog

Furlough and insolvency – are employees protected?

As more retailers and restauranteurs fall victim to insolvency, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the contracts of employment of employees furloughed before a company is placed into administration will be treated as having been adopted by its administrators, therefore entitling the employees to “super-priority” status over other creditors.

View blog

High Court extends employer’s duty of care to Dubai whistleblower

Employers with global networks which include a base in the UK should be aware that they can face expensive and damaging negligence claims from employees who are based overseas regardless of the whistleblowing regime.

View blog

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up