Wednesday, 24 October 2018

frolic & detour

Following the court case of a disgruntled employee who collected personal data of staff and released it to the public in order to embarrass and humiliate his former employer, we were introduced to an interesting concept of tort law and the limits of vicarious liability (respondeat superior) on the part of an employer for the acts of persons in its employ.
Derived from the 1834 case of Joel v Morison (no relation to the present defendant) that involved a pedestrian struck by a horse-drawn cart, to which the cart’s owner begged off due to the fact that the driver had taken a different route than the one he was assigned to visit an acquaintance and because of that deviation, was responsible for the accident. The court, however, ruled, “if servants, being on their master’s business, took a detour to call upon a friend, the master will be responsible… but if he was going on a frolic of his own, the master will not be held liable” and thus the driver was still covered for the negligent act while in the “course of employment” and the cart’s owner had to pay for damages. The company in the present day case is appealing the decision, arguing it cannot be held responsible for the data breach because the employee was acting maliciously and outside of his scope of practise.