The Travails of Vicarious Liability

5 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2022

See all articles by Peter G. Watts

Peter G. Watts

Law Faculty University of Oxford; University of Auckland, Law Faculty

Date Written: January 14, 2019


This article argues that the employment relationship remains central to vicarious liability for most, but not all, torts. It criticised the decision of the England and Wales Court of Appeal in Barclays Bank Plc v Various Claimants [2018] EWCA Civ 1670, a decision that was later reversed by the UK Supreme Court: [2020] UKSC 13. The article also argues that in some circumstances a business owner will expressly or impliedly promise its prospective and actual employees a safe environment. In the case of prospective employees, a firm might promise them that they will not be sexually molested by the doctors the firm uses to conduct medical examinations as part as the job-interview process.

Keywords: Tort, vicarious liability, promise of safe work environment

JEL Classification: K13, K31, K20

Suggested Citation

Watts, Peter G. and Watts, Peter G., The Travails of Vicarious Liability (January 14, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Peter G. Watts (Contact Author)

University of Auckland, Law Faculty ( email )

Private Bag 92019
The University of Auckland
Auckland Central, 1142
New Zealand

Law Faculty University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics