Lister v Romford Ice & Cold Storage Co. Ltd. 
Vicarious liability, Employer Indemnified by Employees
A father and son were employed by the same company. The son
negligently handled a vehicle, causing injury to his father. The
father sued the company for the negligence of the employee, his son.
The company, or rather their insurance company, later succeeded in
obtaining similar damages from the son. As a House of Lords case, it
sets a precedent that, in certain circumstances, an employer who has
been held liable and required to pay damages can be legally
indemnified by his own employee. However, this rarely happens in
practice and, following this case, the Association of British
Insurers issued a statement saying they would not pursue employees
through the courts in general, but that this was a special case. The
case relates to the situation where an employee is injured as a
result of the negligence of a fellow employee and the employer is
held to be vicariously liable for the loss suffered as a result of
that negligence. Traditionally, under the terms of his contract, an
employee must be diligent and use reasonable skills while at work.
This amounts to a general duty to take reasonable care while at
work. These contractual duties are owed to the employer and not to
any person who may be injured as a result of the breach. As a
consequence, the employer may be able to sue the employee for breach
The House of Lords by a majority of 3 to 2 decided to accept the
circular situation that the son had to pay the same as the employer.
A son backed an ice truck over his father. The father could have
sued his son but, instead, decided to sue his son's employer as
being vicariously liable. The employer claimed that the father
should sue the son. It was claimed (by the insurance company suing
in the employer's name) there was an implied term in his employment
that the son obey reasonable commands and use reasonable care. A
possible breach of contract by the son would produce a circular
situation if the employer were able to sue the son for the total
amount of damages paid.