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Mattis v. Pollock


Court of Appeal

Appeal by the claimant ('M') from the decision of HH Judge Richard Seymour QC dismissing his claim for damages for personal injury and consequent loss against the defendant ('P'). In 1998 M was stabbed by a doorman ('C') employed at a nightclub owned and operated by P. M was rendered paraplegic. C was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and ordered to serve eight years in prison. C was not licensed as a doorman by the local authority. On the night in question C started a fight in the club in which M and others were involved. C then left the club, returned to his own flat nearby and armed himself with a knife. He returned to the vicinity of the club and stabbed M who stood his ground outside the club. The judge held that P was not vicariously liable for the injuries inflicted by C nor was he personally liable for breach of a duty of care. The knife attack took place outside the course of C's employment as a doorman. The injuries were caused by the decision of C to arm himself, return to club looking for revenge and stab the first person within reach who happened to be M. M appealed.
HELD: (1) Applying Lister v Hesley Hall Ltd (2001) UKHL 22 and Dubai Aluminium Co Ltd v Salaam (2002) UKHL 48, P would be vicariously liable for C's attack if it was so closely connected with what P authorised or expected C to do in the performance of his employment as a doorman that it would be fair and just to impose liability. (2) Vicarious liability could arise even if the act of the employee was an independent act in itself. (3) Where an employee was expected to use violence while carrying out his duties the likelihood of establishing that an act of violence fell within the broad scope of his employment was greater than it would be if he were not. (4) C was employed to keep order and P encouraged and expected him to perform his duties in an aggressive and intimidatory manner. P should not have been employing C at all and should not have encouraged him to behave as he did. (5) The incident might have ended at a number of different stages before M was stabbed but that did not of itself determine whether P should be held vicariously liable for the stabbing. (6) The stabbing was directly linked to what had gone before. Even allowing that C's behaviour included an important element of personal revenge, approaching the matter broadly, at the moment when M was stabbed the responsibility of P for the actions of his aggressive doorman was not extinguished. Vicarious liability was therefore established. (7) In the circumstances and for the same reasons P would be personally liable as well.
Appeal allowed.

[2003] 1 WLR 2158,[2004] 4 All ER 85,[2003] ICR 1335.

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