Case Analysis SAMPLE AA

Case Analysis SAMPLE AA - Sweeny v Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd...

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Sweeny v Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd [2006] HCA 19: Case Analysis Introduction Vicarious liability refers to a case of wherein one party is held legally responsible for the conduct of another. The general rule is that an employer is vicariously liable for its employees, but not for independent contractors (Hereafter “IC”) whom it engages 1 . In Sweeny v Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd 2 the High Court was required to distinguish between these two categories as well as the extent to which the agency exception should be applied. Facts The respondent, Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd leased refrigerators to service stations. Boylan dispatched a mechanic, Mr Comninos to repair a faulty refrigerator door. Later that day the door fell on Mrs Sweeney as she opened it, causing injury. The mechanic invoiced Boylan for hours worked and parts; was not provided with a uniform, tools, equipment, vehicle or training and made his own superannuation contributions. The mechanic’s vehicle bore the markings of “Cool Runnings Refrigeration Pty Ltd”, of which he was a director. Boylan required Comninos to have public indemnity insurance and trade certificate. Comninos was free to accept jobs from other parties. Issues 1. Was the relationship one of employer/employee or hirer/IC? 2. If the latter is true, was there a principal/agent relationship? Ratione Decidendi 1. The court reaffirmed the principle that an entity may be vicariously liable for employees but not independent contractors. 2. The court went on to confirm the test from Hollis v Vabu Pty Ltd 3 ; that an independent contractor is distinguished from an employee by the totality of the relationship between the two parties. 3. An independent contractor will be established as an agent/representative of the principal only if they are capable of bringing about “legal relations between the principal and third parties” 4 . 1 Richards, Ludlow, Gibson at 15.05, in Business Law: reading materials for Legal Environment and commercial laws , University of Sydney, p. 179 2 Sweeney v Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd [ 2006] HCA 19 3 Hollis v Vabu Pty Ltd [2001] HCA 44 4 Sweeney v Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd [ 2006] HCA 19 per Court at 24 1
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Sweeny v Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd [2006] HCA 19: Case Analysis Judgement and Analysis The court unanimously found that Mr Comninos was in fact a wholly independent contractor 5 . This is consistent with precedent which can be traced back to Quarman v Burnett. The majority noted that although engaging another party to the first party’s advantage is often a necessary requisite, it is insufficient to establish vicarious liability 6 . The court then applied the test from Hollis 7 emphasising differences in control over the manner in which work and financial matters are conducted control over the workers presentation to the public, provision of training and equipment, as well as the degree of skill required to perform the work 8 . The facts of
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Case Analysis SAMPLE AA - Sweeny v Boylan Nominees Pty Ltd...

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