This paper will argue that, in the light of recent case-law in the UK and Australia, a new approach is needed when dealing with claims for vicarious liability and non-delegable duties in the law of tort. It will submit that lessons can be learnt from a comparative study of these jurisdictions, notably by reflecting on the courts’ treatment of claims of institutional liability for child sexual abuse. In parallel to decisions of their highest courts, public enquiries in Australia and England and Wales, established to report on historic child sexual abuse and how to engage in best practice, are now reporting their findings which include proposals for victim reparation: see Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australia, 2017) including Redress and Civil Litigation Report (2015); Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (Interim report, England and Wales, 2018). The Australian reports suggest reforms not only to state practice, but also to private law. This article will critically examine the operation of vicarious liability and non-delegable duties in England and Wales and Australia and proposals for statutory intervention. It will submit that a more cautious incremental approach is needed to control the ever-expanding doctrine of vicarious liability in UK law and to develop more fully its more restrictive Australian counterpart.
- Tort Law
- vicarious liability
- non-delegable duties
- institutional child sexual abuse