Dr Bates was engaged by the bank between 1968 and 1984 as a self employed contractor to carry out medical examinations for applicants who had been successful at being offered a job with the bank. Before their employment could start successful applicants, who were mainly women, were required to attend a session with Dr Bates. Many of the 126 ladies who are bringing these claims were teenagers at the time and some as young as 16. Dr Bates died in 2005 before criminal prosecutions were brought. Civil claims were brought in 2015 against the bank who were alleged to be vicariously liable for the alleged acts of the doctor. We have commented upon other instances where employers have been held vicariously liable for the acts of their employees but in this case the important distinction was that it was clear and accepted that Dr Bates was self employed. The Court went on to examine the relationship between Dr Bates and the Bank and found that his role was carried out with a relationship akin to employment as part of a twofold test which allowed them to find that in the event the allegations of serious sexual assault are proven to have taken place that the Bank will be deemed liable to compensate the victims. Following the Equality Act employers are no longer allowed to make employment offers subject to medical assessment but at the time it was acceptable. According to the Judgement in this case the Bank arranged for the ladies to attend Dr Bates house and were not allowed to use a doctor of their choice. If the ladies' assertions of serious sexual assault are decided to be founded then it will be one of the largest and saddest cases of its kind. However the decision announced today also has far reaching implications and is a very important development on the law of vicarious liability. The case redefines the rules and makes it a lot easier for complainants to bring claims of vicarious liability against businesses who engage the services of third party contractors as well as being capable of being held accountable for the acts of their employees.
Barclays would be "vicariously liable" if it is proved a doctor sexually assaulted prospective employees while carrying out medicals for the bank. The group of 126 people, is seeking damages for assaults they say were committed by Dr Gordon Bates, from Newcastle. The bank did not admit or deny the allegations but said Dr Bates was not employed by them and should not be liable for any assaults he perpetrated. Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC, acting for the complainants, said "the conditions which allowed the abuse to occur include the trust which the claimants placed in Dr Bates as the bank's doctor". Mrs Justice Nicola Davies has now ruled Barclays would be "vicariously liable for any assaults that any claimant may prove to have been perpetuated" by Dr Bates in the course of medical examinations carried out at the firm's request.