This is an Outer House case in which William Campbell sued his employer (Peter Gordon Joiners Limited), the sole director of his employer (Peter Gordon) and the liquidator of his employer after suffering injury in an accident involving a circular saw whilst at work.

The accident involved an electrically powered circular saw. The company went into voluntary liquidation in December 2009 and the former employee avers that there are no funds of theirs available to meet his claim. Of more direct relevance to the present action, the employers’ liability insurance (required by The Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969) taken out by the company excludes any legal liability arising out of the use of electrically powered woodworking machinery such as the circular saw.

It was held that the former employee had made out his case based upon the argument that the Act allows the director to be held civilly liable for breach of his qualified statutory duty not to permit the employer company to carry on its business without having in place an approved insurance policy with an authorised insurer insuring him against liability for bodily injury or disease sustained by employees in the course of their employment.

The case now falls to be heard in full.

It is of interest that in this matter it was suggested that a director may personally incur delictual liability (in Scots law, meaning a willful wrong) at common law where he procures or directs the commission of the delict by the company: see Performing Right Society Ltd  v  Ciryl Theatrical Syndicate Ltd [1924] 1 KB 1, 13-14. That is no doubt correct. Some of the relevant decisions and the applicable principles are referred to in my opinion in Naxos Rights International Ltd  v  Project Management (Borders) Ltd [2012] CSOH 158 at para 62. But the pursuer here makes no averments bringing the case into that territory. Nor does he make any averments which would entitle him to say that Mr  Gordon  had assumed personal responsibility to his employees for ensuring that the company had the requisite policy of insurance: c.f.  Williams v  Natural Life Health Foods Ltd [1998] 1 WLR 830.

Citation: William Campbell v. Peter Gordon Joiners Limited and others, [2013] CSOH 181, 26

Thanks to Stephen Moore for bringing this case to my attention.