Poland v Parr & Sons [1927] 1 KB 236

Employer’s vicarious liability for personal injury caused by the acts of an employee.


A contractor’s employee was, in the course of his employment, following close behind his employer’s waggon carrying sugar bags. Seeing a boy with a hand on one of the bags, the employee believed the boy to be stealing sugar and hit him. This caused the boy to fall and the waggon to run over his foot, leading to the loss of his leg. The boy had not, in fact, been stealing the sugar although the employee had believed so.


The question arose as to whether the employee’s actions were authorised by the employer, imputing the employer’s liability for the injuries sustained by the boy.


The Court held that the employer was liable as it was an impliedly authorised act conducted during the employee’s course of employment and as a result of the employee acting within the scope of his duty to protect the employer. Although the employer held that the employee was acting without their direct nor indirect authority, the Court held that the employee had an implied authority to act to protect his employer’s property if he has reasonable ground to believe that it was in danger. The Court stipulated that the employee’s actions were entirely in the interests of protecting the employer, although it was an excessive means of doing so. Accordingly, the employee was held to be impliedly authorised by the employer and the employer was held liable for the resultant personal injuries.