• Robert Spicer

Employers’ liability insurance: inadequate cover: Supreme Court decision on director’s liability

Employers’ liability insurance

Company in liquidation

Case Campbell v Peter Gordon Joiners Ltd (In Liquidation) and Another (2016) The Times, July 20, Supreme Court

Facts C was employed by PGJ as an apprentice joiner. He suffered an injury while working with an electrical circular saw. PGJ’s employers’ liability insurance excluded claims arising from the use of woodworking machinery powered by electricity. This was a breach of the 1969 Act. The company went into liquidation. C sought to hold G, as director of the company, liable in damages for the company’s failure to provide adequate insurance cover.

Decision 1. The claim failed.

  1. The 1969 Act imposed criminal liability and the general rule was that there was no civil liability.

  2. There was no suggestion that a person could be made indirectly liable for breach of an obligation imposed by statute on someone else. It was no different where the obligation was imposed on a company.

  3. The 1969 Act imposed direct responsibility only on the employer. The responsibility of a director was imposed by a specific and closely defined criminal penalty.

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