What steps EIC Ltd might take to reduce its exposure in relation to vicarious liability claims in the future.

PRESENTATION TASK

You have recently been employed as an officer within the Legal Department of a medium-sized construction company, East India Construction Ltd (EIC Ltd). The company undertakes a large number of building projects in England and Wales. It recruits site personnel in a variety of ways. Some are employed directly by EIC Ltd. Others are recruited on ‘zero-hours’ contracts (this means that there is no guarantee of work, and staff are only paid for work they actually do).

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Two incidents have occurred within the organisation during the past week. In the first a driver, retained under a ‘zero-hours’ contract by EIC Ltd, was delivering building materials to a construction site using a truck-mounted crane. The driver parked the truck on the pavement at the side of the road but he failed to prevent pedestrians from temporarily using the pavement and did not check for their presence whilst operating the crane. As a result, a palette of building materials swung into a pedestrian’s path causing her to suffer severe head injuries.

The second incident involved a Site Manager, an employee of EIC Ltd, who punched a local resident in the face breaking his nose during a heated argument. The local resident had come to complain about the noise and bad language being used by some of the construction workers on-site.

The Board of Directors have called you to a board meeting. You are expected to give a 5-minute presentation covering the following matters:

  1. Whether EIC Ltd will be vicariously liable (a) to the pedestrian for her injuries resulting from the negligence of the truck-mounted crane driver/operator (b) to the local resident for his injuries following the battery inflicted by the Site Manager.
  2. What steps EIC Ltd might take to reduce its exposure in relation to vicarious liability claims in the future.

Guidance: you are entitled to assume that the Site Manager in 1(b) is an employee without explaining the meaning of an employment relationship. However, some explanation as to what is meant by a ‘relationship akin to employment’ will be required in relation to your discussions concerning the truck-mounted crane driver/operator in 1(a). Whilst candidates are expected to explain the law for the benefit of the Board, it is not necessary to identify specific case names. Instead, a general indication of the legal source will be appropriate e.g. ‘case law of the Supreme Court establishes that…’ etc

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