Barclays bank liable for sexual assaults committed by doctor

Barclays bank has been held liable for sexual assaults committed by a doctor it hired to carry out medical examinations on employees.

The bank required its employees to attend a medical assessment as part of its recruitment process. Between 1968 and 1984, the assessments took place unchaperoned at the doctor’s home.

The doctor died in 2009, but in 2013, police had collected enough evidence to have charged him with sexual assault if he had still been alive.

A group litigation order was made on behalf of 126 claimants and the judge ordered a preliminary trial to determine whether the bank could be held liable for the doctor’s assaults.

Barclays argued that the doctor was an independent contractor, while the claimants said he was a direct employee of the bank or was in a role ‘akin to employment’.

The judge found that the doctor’s actions were committed as a result of activity undertaken on behalf of the bank. He was working under the bank’s control, as an integral part of its business activity.

Barclays was likely to be insured against such liability and have the means to compensate the victims.

The judge concluded that it was fair and just to find the bank vicariously responsible for the actions of the doctor.

The decision was upheld at the Court of Appeal.

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