Vicarious liability in the sports industry

Vicarious liability is a long-standing, common law principle of strict, no fault liability for wrongs committed by another person. It occurs predominantly in employment relationships whereby the employer is held to be liable for the wrongdoing of its employee provided that there is a sufficiently close connection between those wrongs and the employee’s employment.

Whilst it has been argued that this doctrine is somewhat harsh on employers, its imposition in English law is policy driven on the basis that it is the employers, rather than employees, who have the fiscal means and deep pockets to compensate the losses suffered by an individual following a wrongful act committed by an employee.

Recent developments in the doctrine of vicarious liability in English courts have however widened the potential liability of employers for the actions of their employees, which could potentially affect employers in the sports industry such as clubs and governing bodies.

Phil Hutchinson published this article in Law in Sport explaining these developments and then analysed the potential effects to employers in the sports industry using some conventional sporting situations and scenarios.


Phil Hutchinson 
Tiran Gunawardena

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