Study notes

Key Case | Barclays v Multiple claimants (2018) | Vicarious Liability - Relationship of Employment

  • Levels: A Level, BTEC Level 3
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Despite a relationship appearing as one of employer and independent contractor, if the relationship has the characteristics of a contract of service, a contract of employment the courts may find that one is present.


Claimant: 126 parties

Defendant: Barclays Bank, via vicarious liability for a doctor employed

Facts: A qualified doctor conducted medical examinations for Barclays Bank in respect of prospective and current employees, in respect of which he received a fee per examination. A group of 126 female claimants made allegations of serious sexual assaults against the doctor, taking place during the medical examinations. The medical examinations were a condition of employment for the claimants. The claimants were made to undertake the examination alone, the doctor was provided with proforma by the Bank, headed with the Bank’s logo and entitled ‘Barclays Confidential Medical Report’. The report was completed and signed by the doctor and the claimant and was then returned directly to the Bank. The case concerned whether the bank was vicariously liable for the actions of the doctor, the bank sought to prove that there was no relationship of employment and the doctor was thus self-employed.

Outcome: Liable

Legal principle: There may be some circumstances where it can be held that an employer of an independent contractor may be found vicariously liable due to the widespread changes in employment. There was a relationship of employment here as the activity was conducted for the benefit of the bank, was part of the banks business and the bank created by employing the doctor the risk of the tort being committed, subsequently, there was a relationship akin to employment, despite no direct employment via a contract of service.


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