Journal of Professional Negligence Seminar 2015: Vicarious Liability and Non-Delegable Duties

Welcome to the event page for the 2015 Seminar from the Journal of Professional Negligence

Event Update - 4th August 2015: We can now confirm that all attendees will be able to accrue 4 CPD hours from the Bar Standards Board.

This timely seminar run by the editors of Journal of Professional Negligence will examine the current state of vicarious liability and non-delegable duties in the light of the Supreme Court decisions in Various Claimants v Catholic Child Welfare Society and Woodland v Essex County Council and discuss the fundamental questions raised by those decisions, and their implications in both the public and private law context.

Seminar Details:
Date: Friday 25th September, 2015
Time: 10am – 4pm
Venue: Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP
Cost: £50 (+£3.50 booking fee)
Lunch: Delicious deli-style lunch and coffee breaks included in the price
Also included in the price: A special issue of the Journal

How do I book?
Click on this link to be redirected to our ticket sales page:

Why book into ‘Vicarious Liability and Non-Delegable Duties’?

    • Benefit from 4 CPD hours (Awarded by the Bar Standards Board)
    • Benefit from in depth presentations from the chair and speakers – all leading experts in professional negligence (more info below)
    • Gain the opportunity for discussion and analysis in Q&A sessions after each presentation
    • Broaden and deepen your understanding of issues relating to vicarious liability and non-delegable duties, which can arise in a wide range of scenarios

Chair and Speakers:

Professor Paula Giliker, Professor in Comparative Law, University of Bristol Law School
Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC, Barrister, 1 Crown Office Row
Dr Claire McIvor, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham Law School
Dr Jonathan Morgan, University Lecturer in Tort Law; Fellow, Tutor, and Director of Studies in Law, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge
Phillip Morgan, Lecturer, University of York Law School

Sessions Overview

Session 1: “Developments in vicarious liability: a practitioner’s perspective” - Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC
Session 2: “The validity of the distinction between primary and secondary liability post CCWS and Woodland.” - Claire McIvor
Session 3: "Vicarious liability for independent contractors?" - Jonathan Morgan
Session 4: “Vicarious liability and teachers: Can you outsource liability for lessons?” - Paula Giliker
Session 5: “Vicarious Liability for Companies: the Final Frontier of Vicarious Liability?” - Phillip Morgan
Concluding remarks: Paula Giliker


Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC: “Developments in vicarious liability: a practitioner’s perspective”.
This paper will discuss the combined radical effect of three cases - Lister v Hesley Hall [2002] 1 AC 215; A v Hoare & Others [2008] UK HL 6, [2008] 1 AC 844 HL(E) and Catholic Child Welfare Society and others v Various Claimants and The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and others [2012] UKSC 56 - on personal injury litigation arising out of deliberate acts of assault. The repercussions have also influenced clinical negligence and other personal injury claims.

Claire McIvor: “The validity of the distinction between primary and secondary liability post CCWS and Woodland.
The distinction between primary and secondary liability has received little if any scholarly attention. The first part of this paper will look at nature and perceived purposes of distinction as well as its consequences in terms of the nature of liability imposed on the relevant parties. The paper will then move on to look at the application of the distinction in the context of the ‘old law’ (ie pre The Catholic Child Welfare Society & Ors v Various claimants & Ors and Woodland v Essex County Council) governing vicarious liability and non-delegable duties. While vicarious liability represents a classic instance of secondary liability, non-delegable duties is a highly exceptional form of primary. The paper will question whether distinction served any useful purpose in relation to these particular forms of liability for the acts of others. The final part of the paper will re-examine the distinction in light of the newly expanded forms of  vicarious liability and non-delegable duties, and question, for instance, whether its validity has been heightened or lessened as a result of recent developments.

Jonathan Morgan: "Vicarious liability for independent contractors?"
The "non-delegable duty" in tort is a threadbare fiction. In reality, when the courts invoke it, they are imposing vicarious liability for independent contractors, no more and no less. Recognising this has a number of benefits. Apart from avoiding artificial reasoning, it permits us to consider openly when and whether the justifications for vicarious liability in the employer-employee situation can justify similar liability in the contractor-client relationship. A transparent engagement with such questions will promote orderly development of the law.

Paula Giliker  “Vicarious liability and teachers: Can you outsource liability for lessons?
Baroness Hale in Woodland v Essex County Council [2013] UKSC 66 commented that in imposing a non-delegable duty on the school in question, “it is particularly worth remembering that for the most part public authorities would have been vicariously liable to claimants who were harmed in this way until the advent of outsourcing of essential aspects of their functions.” This paper will examine the impact of vicarious liability on schools in the light of claims arising from both negligent and intentional harm suffered by pupils and the extent to which public authorities now face a two-pronged attack in the light of recent case-law which imposes liability on schools not only on the basis of vicarious liability but also arising from breach of a non-delegable duty owed to pupils as a result of misconduct by independent contractors.

Phillip Morgan: “Vicarious Liability for Companies: the Final Frontier of Vicarious Liability?
This paper will examine the implications of The Catholic Child Welfare Society & Ors v Various claimants & Ors and recent case law, within a commercial context, in particular the application of vicarious liability for legal persons, and within corporate groups. Whilst this is an area where vicarious liability theory directly clashes with corporate law theory, the paper will argue that the commercial significance of the abuse litigation may be far greater than first thought.

For more information on the Journal of Professional Negligence visit

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