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Personal Injury Law Journal: March 2013

Jonathan Wheeler reviews the case law in the last 12 months

Vicarious liability is a doctrine of strict liability on the part of a defendant who is faultless and who becomes liable purely by virtue of the relationship between themself and the tortfeasor as their employee, servant or agent. Because of this, the courts often see the doctrine as somewhat punitive on an otherwise blameless defendant and, as such, judges are exhorted to keep the concept within confined limits. ‘The principle of vicarious liability is not infinitely extendable’, said Lord Steyn in Bernard v Attorney General of Jamaica [2004] at para 23. This comment has been quoted with apparent approval in a number of very recent decisions handed down last year, but on balance it is hard to resist the proposition that Lord Steyn is being ignored.

Anna Macey discusses the decision in International Energy Group Ltd v Zurich Insurance plc UK Ltd

In this interesting case the Court of Appeal overruled the High Court and held an employers’ liability insurer was liable to indemnify an employer for the whole of a mesothelioma claim, and not just the proportion relating to its insurance period, even where the employer is solvent.

Philip Hesketh is interviewed by the editor of Personal Injury Law Journal, Jessica Ross, and provides a practical insight to successful mediation and funding issues that arise

1. Why would an experienced personal injury litigator need the help of a mediator to settle a claim?

Paul Jones examines the cost implications of multiple defendants

Claims involving multiple parties always have the potential for difficulties, both in relation to damages and costs. In particular, where there are multiple defendants and the claim against them fails, there is often the vexed question of who is to pay the costs of those defendants, particularly where there is a lack of funds on the part of the claimant. The recent Court of Appeal case of Chung v Funafloat Ltd [2013] considered this very issue.

Stephen Ashcroft looks at the impact on personal injury and clinical negligence claims

The recent pronouncement on the state pension is the latest stage in an overall review of pensions generally. This has been necessitated by several factors, including the increased longevity of the population coupled with fewer people of working age. This is described as the ‘demographic time-bomb’, as pensions in payment are provided by the National Insurance contributions of those who are still in work. With a declining working population, coupled with increased life expectancy generally, this has led to the Pensions Act 2008, which is making pension contributions compulsory for ALL working people.

Chris Gutteridge considers the liability of employers for out-of-office activities

The rise in popularity of the concept of ‘team-building’ and the quest for a happy and healthy workforce has driven many employers out of the office and into organising activities, fun days and social events for their staff. Two recent cases act as a reminder, however, that in such circumstances, an employer’s responsibility for the safety of its employees extends beyond ‘work’ and into ‘play’.

Limitation; discretion; burden of proof

This case helpfully provides a final answer to the question whether a claimant seeking, under s33 Limitation Act 1980, to disapply the section 11 statute bar faces should face a very heavy burden in doing so. The answer, in short is, no.