On the 1 April 2020, the UK Supreme Court unanimously decided that Morrisons Supermarkets PLC isn’t vicariously liable for the data leak committed by ex-employee Andrew Skelton.
Mr Skelton was the senior IT auditor at Morrisons in 2014. The data leak involved the personal details – including payroll information – of over 98,998 Morrisons workers being logged online.
Skelton’s actions lead to him receiving eight years imprisonment and 5,000 Morrison workers seeking compensation from Morrisons Supermarket PLC.
The decision by the Supreme Court to find that Morrisons is not liable for the actions of Mr Skelton comes after two lower courts found that Morrisons Supermarkets did not have primary liability, but was vicariously liable.
In its judgement (given over video link because of the on going COVID-19 epidemic) the Supreme Court explained that the lower courts had erred in their judgement, due to a misunderstanding of ‘the established approach to questions of this kind’.
The Court noted that Andrew Skelton had a personal vendetta against Morrisons, and that as such it could not be argued that his actions were done by him while acting in the ordinary course of his employment. Therefore, Morrisons cannot be found to be vicariously liable.