Beware of the Christmas party!

In a personal injury claim brought by an employee against his employer in respect of a violent assault upon him by the Company’s Managing Director, it was held that the Company was not liable for the injury in the circumstances of this case.  The Company had held a Christmas party at an organised venue but a number of employees, including the employee assaulted, and the Managing Director continued to have a drinking session straight after the Christmas party at a separate venue.

It was held by the High Court in England that neither the fact the Company was expected to pay for some or all of the drinks, nor the fact that the attack was triggered by a work-related discussion, during which the Managing Director felt that his authority was being challenged by the other employee, was sufficient to outweigh the fact that the incident had arisen in the context of voluntary and personal choices by those present to continue with a heavy drinking session which was entirely separate from the official Christmas event.  However, if this had happened at the official event the Company probably would have been liable for the assault, on the basis of vicarious liability.