The Court of Appeal has allowed the Claimant’s appeal in Clive Bellman (A Protected Party By His Litigation Friend Nick Bellman) v Northampton Recruitment Limited (2018) EWCA Civ 2214, in a decision that involves a redrawing of the limits of vicarious liability for the violent conduct of an employee.

The facts of the case are both highly unusual and tragic. The Claimant and M, the Managing Director of the Defendant company, were longstanding friends. The Defendant company employed the Claimant as a Sales Manager. The Defendant held a Christmas party at a golf club. Some but not all of the guests decided to go to a hotel, where some of the guests were staying for more drinks. In the early hours, an argument arose between the Claimant and M in relation to work related matters and the employment terms of a fellow employee. M called over his fellow employees and began to lecture them about how he was in charge and would do what he wanted to do before being verbally challenged by the Claimant. M punched the Claimant twice, with the second assault causing the Claimant to sustain a serious brain injury.