- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 09 Oct 2015
Typically, vicarious liability arises where an employer is held liable for the actions or omissions of its officers or employees performing duties in the course of their employment. This liability is not dependent on the employer having done anything wrong themselves.
Very broadly, the tests for vicarious liability are:
- Whether the employer was in control of the other party.
- Whether the act or omission was closely connected with their duties.
This does not restrict vicarious liability to ‘authorised’ actions or omissions. Vicarious liability can exist if authorised actions have been carried out carelessly or wrongfully, although there becomes a point where the action is carried out in such a way that it is outside the course of their employment and they may be considered to be acting independently, in a personal capacity.
In construction, vicarious liability may arise where the employees of a contractor act in such a way in the course of performing their duties so as to cause harm to another employee, the worker of another contractor or a member of the public.
Vicarious liability may also arise where a ‘superior’ is deemed to be in control of a party even where they are not their employer, for example:
- An employer might be held liable for the actions of clients or customers if they are under their control.
- A contractor ‘lending’ an employee to a subcontractor may still retain effective control over them.
- A subcontractor that is ‘integrated’ into a contractor organisation so that they are behaving as if they are an employee.
However, the interpretation of ‘control’ is likely to be applied narrowly in such circumstances. Control is not demonstrated by ‘supervision’, and might be difficult to establish if a subcontractor is skilled.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Appointing consultants.
- Contract v tort.
- Construction contract.
- Health and safety.
 External reference
Featured articles and news
A quick introduction to a very complicated subject.
CIOB suggests the economic reach of construction is double the official figures.
The first US building to achieve BREEAM Outstanding In-Use.
70 buildings from 70 years of Concrete Quarterly. Book review.
Conserving the iron roof at the Albert Dock.
Delivering an infrastructure revolution.
The admissibility of evidence.
How many can you name? 37 anyone?
CIOB respond to the points-based system.
When is the weather considered 'exceptionally adverse'?
ECA backs call for a rolling programme of rail electrification.