[Thanks to Michael Reed, Employment Legal Officer at the Free Representation Unit for preparing this case summary]
Can the Catholic Church be vicariously liable for a Priest's actions? It could in JGE v The Trustees of the Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust.
JGE was in a children's home run by the Church. She brought a personal injury claim alleging that she had been sexually abused.
The Court of Appeal confirmed that a Catholic Priest is not an employee. But they extended the scope of vicarious liability to non-employees in relationships so close in character to employment that it was just and equitable to hold the 'employer' liable.
When identifying such relationships courts should consider:
- the control the organisation had over the individual;
- whether the individual performed a core function of the organisation;
- whether the individual was integrated into the organisation and
- whether the individual was in business for themselves.
Despite its unusual facts this case has great significance for the scope of vicarious liability in atypical employment situations.