Vicarious liability (in the context of tort law)

Liability for the acts of another, or the attribution of one person’s liability to another by virtue of the nature of their relationship.

The most recognised form of vicarious liability is of an employer for his employee. This is because there is an expectation that an employer has vetted, controlled, and trusted an employee to act on their behalf, and as such, any failure on the employee’s part can be treated as a failure of the employer.

It is generally no defence to a claim of vicarious liability against a negligent employer that the employee was not complying with directions if another person was injured as a result. Vicarious liability is also a feature of the agency relationship.

In the case of Leslie v Graham [2002] FCA, an employer was held vicariously liable for sexual harassment by an employee of another employee which occurred in shared accommodation on a business trip, as it occurred in a circumstance sufficiently connected to the employment.