Supermarkets, sexual assault, surrogacy and shipping

These were the settings for four Supreme Court judgments today, delivered by video link given the prevailing restrictions. Principles of vicarious liability were raised by two cases. Recovery of by way of damages of sums paid under a commercial contract for surrogacy was raised in a third and the fourth concerned recovery by an insurer of a settlement which it argued was vitiated by misrepresentation. This blog is necessarily short and serves only as a summary of today’s judgments.

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Does a decision change the law if it turns on its own facts?

The orthodox answer to this question is no, on the basis that it is the peculiarities of the facts which give rise to the outcome, rather than any new legal approach. In two decisions this week in the tort of negligence, the clinical claim Darnley in the Supreme Court and the vicarious liability claim Bellman in the Court of Appeal, the higher Courts worked from the initial findings of fact and applied the existing law to them to drive different outcomes from those reached in the courts below.

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Further authority on non-delegable duty and vicarious liability – Razumas v Ministry of Justice

Debate on the scope of the frequently-linked issues of non-delegable duty of care and vicarious liability remains extremely active and was recently reconsidered by the High Court in a judgment handed down on 12 February 2018. Continue reading