In Yeung Mei Hoi v Tam Cheuk Shing & Anor  4
HKC 1, the Court of Appeal considered whether an employee's
tortious act and his employment were so closely connected such that
it was fair and just to hold the employer vicariously liable for
his actions. The first defendant and plaintiff worked as security
guards in a residential estate managed by the second defendant. The
first defendant assaulted the plaintiff, his supervisor, after
being accused of not fulfilling his duties. The first defendant did
not contest the case, and judgment on liability was entered against
him. The second defendant, being the employer, disputed the
At trial, the judge considered that the employer was not
vicariously liable because it could not fairly be said that the
first defendant carried out the assault in the course of executing
On appeal by the plaintiff, it was held that the trial judge had
applied the close connection test too narrowly. That test holds
that an employer will be held to be vicariously liable where the
connection between the employee's unauthorized tortuous act and
his or her employment is so close to make it fair and just to hold
the employer vicariously liable. The Court of Appeal referred to
Various Claimants v Catholic Child Welfare Society 
2 AC 1, which set out five criteria to be met that indicate that it
is fair, just, and reasonable to impose vicarious liability on the
employer. That case highlighted that the close connection criterion
must involve a risk sufficiently inherent in or characteristic of
the employer's business.
In the circumstances, since the second defendant had put a
system of supervision and discipline in place, the plaintiff should
have made enquiries when a subordinate was not performing his or
her job duties. As such, there was an inherent risk that the
subordinate might react in an unauthorized way, such as swearing
and assault as in the first defendant's case. Since the risk
could have been insured against by the second defendant, the second
defendant was vicariously liable for the plaintiff's injury
suffered during the course of employment.
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