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Study Notes

Key Case | Shelborne v CRUK (2019) | Vicarious Liability - Frolic of Their Own

A-Level, BTEC National
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 9 Oct 2020

Where a tortfeasor’s field of activity is clearly not associated with their tortious actions, a claim fails the close connection test and vicarious liability cannot be imposed.


Claimant: Shelborne, employee of CRUK

Defendant: CRUK

Facts: The claimant was employed by CRUK and attended a Christmas party attended by the defendant, a visiting scientist at the institute of CRUK. The defendant had been drinking and when the claimant was dancing, went a picked up the claimant, dropped her on the floor and caused her a serious back injury.

Outcome: Not Liable

Legal principle: This was not something connected with the duties of the tortfeasor, the actions of the tortfeasor were not something within the field of activities entrusted by CRUK, but rather this could be correctly categorised as a ‘frolic’ of his own. It could not be said that by employing the tortfeasor that CRUK created a risk of this happening.

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