Blog

You Are Here:

VIOLENT RESPONSES TO LAWFUL INSTRUCTIONS

Posted on | Posted in Duty of Care, News

 In Weddall v Barchester Healthcare Ltd and Wallbank v Wallbank Fox Designs Ltd (heard together) the Court of Appeal tried to distinguish between when it can, and  when it cannot, find an employer vicariously liable for the violent responses of an employee to lawful instructions given by a senior employee.

Weddall v Barchester Healthcare Ltd

 In the first of the two cases the Claimant Mr Weddall, was the deputy manager of a care home.  It was part of the Claimant’s duties to arrange replacements for shifts and anyone asked to cover shifts was free to accept or decline the invitation. On one occasion when there was a shortage of staff, the Claimant had telephoned another employee, health assistant Mr Marsh, to ask if he was willing to work the night shift. However, Mr Marsh, who was drunk and upset at the time, took offence to the call, believing the Claimant to be mocking his drunken state. Following the call Mr Marsh called the care home to say that he intended to resign and then cycled to his place of work where he viciously assaulted the Claimant. This attack occurred twenty minutes after Mr Marsh had been contacted by the Claimant.

Wallbank v Wallbank Fox Designs Ltd

In the second case the Claimant , Mr Wallbank, was the managing director of Wallbank Fox Designs Ltd, a small manufacturing company. The Claimant had asked an employee, Mr Brown, to correct an error in the manufacturing process during Mr Brown’s period of supervision. This oversight had been causing a loss of fuel. Mr Brown ignored the request and the Claimant asked him for a second time,  by telling Mr Brown to “come on”. Mr Brown responded to this by attacking the Claimant and throwing him onto a table.

In the first case the Court of Appeal upheld the County Court’s decision that the employer, Barchester Healthcare Ltd, could not be vicariously liable for Mr Marsh’s conduct. It said that Mr Marsh’s drunken actions were separate and distinct from his employment as a health assistant. In contrast, in the second case, the Court of Appeal held that the employer in question could be held vicariously liable for the violent behaviour of its employee.

Unlike the first case where the request to fill an empty shift was deemed a mere “pretext” for Mr Marsh’s violence and not closely connected to his work, Mr Brown’s violence was an instantaneous reaction to an instruction closely related to his employment in both time and space. In addition, the possibility of “friction” was held to be “particularly” pertinent in a factory where instant instructions and quick reactions are required.

Whilst the Court was able to make a distinction between these two cases, the reasoning for the distinction is not particularly clear. For instance the possibility of “friction” could be deemed just as inherent in a care home environment where medical emergencies or mental illnesses are common. Furthermore the delay in ‘time and space’ in the first case was inevitable as Mr Marsh was at home at the time and his response was perhaps as ‘immediate’ as was possible in the circumstances

Provided by Brabners Chaffe

 

0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts
25 Mar 2020

Why you should always be recruiting

Being on the constant look out for potential candidates is essential for attracting the very best people to your business. By waiting until you need someone, you’ll only get the best of candidates available at that point in time. However, by always recruiting, you expose your business to the best of the best. Here’s some[…..]

Latest Posts
12 Mar 2020

The wonder of women

– My inspirational week   Last week was incredibly inspirational for me, and not only because Sunday was International Women’s Day. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday attending a Mental Health First Aid course in Basingstoke, courtesy of Neil Perry Mental Health. It was noticeable that all delegates were women and I hope future events attract[…..]

Latest Posts
17 Feb 2020

Do you hate job boards? Why registering with a recruitment agency helps your job search

Are you tired of spending hours online searching for jobs? Applying for hundreds of positions and not receiving so much as an acknowledgement? Fed-up of being unemployed or unhappy with your current career path? Here at Wote Street People, we always strive to find the perfect match between candidate and employer – something that cannot[…..]

Latest Posts
20 Dec 2019

When the going gets tough: celebrating resilience

Wote Street People sponsors University of Winchester Resilience Award With Christmas nearly upon us, the ‘silly season’ starts – parties ramp up, office life slows down, and chat about what everyone is doing this year is as plentiful as the supply of festive bakes. But it’s not the most wonderful time of the year for[…..]

Latest Posts
04 Nov 2019

Boringstoke to Amazingstoke: 3 reasons why Basingstoke is a great place to look for work in 2020

Another year is almost over and with less than 50 shopping days before Christmas, you may also be thinking about a career move in the New Year. Why not consider a job in Basingstoke? Located in Basing View, one of Basingstoke’s growing business communities, Wote Street People know what a great place Basingstoke is to[…..]