Meet Bob. Bob was egregiously assaulted by a stores security guard who damages his phone and vehicle. One of the other employees grabs his phone out of his hand on retribution for attempting to photograph them and throws in several metres in the air so that it crashes down on the pavement and smashes into pieces.

The security guard, I imagine, is criminally liable in a personal capacity for assault.

But in terms of civil liabilities, what types of damages might be claimed for these events, and whom from? Is the store corporately liable as three employees were discharging their professional duties on the store's behalf?

E&W specified all countries welcome.

  • What torts and what categories/types of damages then would be applicable? Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 14:14
  • 6
    Just saying, Bob seems to have a lot of bad luck recently.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 15:55
  • What can he say? Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


The store owners may well be liable for damages. See a very similar fact pattern in Mohamud v Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc (short title) which was an appeal concerning: :

2 [...] an employer’s vicarious liability in tort for an assault carried out by an employee.

The details of which are:

The Supreme Court upheld a damages claim brought by Ahmed Mohamud, an innocent customer who suffered serious head injuries in a savage, unprovoked attack in which he was repeatedly kicked and punched by Amjid Khan, a petrol kiosk attendant who was employed by Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc at a branch in Birmingham. The Court found that the supermarket giant was vicariously liable for Mr Khan's appalling behaviour.


[T]he Court had to consider two matters. Firstly, what was the nature of the employee's job and was there sufficient connection between his field of activities and his wrongful conduct for the employer to be held liable for his actions?

The Court noted that it was part of Mr Khan's job to attend to customers, to interact with them and to respond to their inquiries. His conduct was inexcusable and it could not be said that he had metaphorically taken off his uniform the moment he stepped out from behind the counter.

In ordering Mr Mohamud never to return to the petrol station, Mr Khan was purporting to act in his capacity as a Morrisons' employee. His motive in launching the attack was irrelevant and it did not matter whether his actions were driven by personal racism rather than a desire to benefit his employer's business.

The Court's decision opened the way for Mr Mohamud's estate and dependants to seek substantial compensation in respect of his lost earnings and the pain and suffering he endured before his death. [Source: SWlaw]

  • This case is even easier than that one because it's much harder to argue that the security guard wasn't acting as a security guard at the time. Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 21:57

Germany: Every person is liable for what they are doing, but the company is also liable for the actions of an employee while doing their duties for the company. With a very generous interpretation of "doing their duties", so even if doing their duties very badly, or even against orders. Both the security guard and the employee would be judged as doing their duties for the company, so the company would be liable for damages.

If you went to court for damages, you would be free to sue the employees or the companies, they both would have to pay up to the complete damage. Say your €10,000 car is completely destroyed, you'd probably sue the company if you think they are more likely to be able to pay.

On the other hand, if the employee cost the company €10,000 this way, by damaging your property intentionally, they will likely have a good enough reason to fire him, and can sue him for the damage he did to the company.

PS. Looks quite similar to Rick's answer which I guess is UK based.

PS. In the USA, a company has been ordered to pay several hundred million dollars quite recently, because an employee with a criminal record took a company car, uniform, tools etc. on his day off, visited an elderly woman at her home who had called in to get some repairs done, stole from her home (that's why he went there, he wasn't going to be paid for work because it was his day off), got caught, and killed her.

But that may have a different basis, that the company enabled him to commit a crime that ended with a woman being murdered, not that he was acting on behalf of the company at the time.

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