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Employer's liability: Privy Council holds Jamaica liable for off-duty policeman shooting

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Bernard v Attorney General of Jamaica [2005] IRLR 398 PC (0 other reports)

Key points

In Bernard v Attorney-General of Jamaica, the Privy Council holds:

  • The Attorney-General of Jamaica was vicariously liable for the unlawful shooting of a member of the public by a police constable who was attempting to jump the queue for a public telephone.
  • Vicarious liability is to be determined by the principles in the House of Lords' decision in Lister v Hesley Hall Ltd [2001] IRLR 472, which include the consideration of any risks to others created by an employer that entrusts duties, tasks and functions to an employee.
  • An employer can be held liable if the wrong is so closely connected with the employment that it can be said that the employer has introduced the risk. In this case, allowing police officers to take loaded service revolvers home and carry them while off duty created the risk of incidents leading to vicarious liability.
  • The fact that the constable had identified himself as a policeman before shooting the member of the public created a close connection or nexus between the employer and the wrong committed by the employee.