Mr John Wallbank owned Wallbank Fox Designs Limited, a small manufacturing company. Mr Brown was employed to make bed frames at the company. Mr Brown had to load the beds into an oven. Mr Brown was not the most compliant employee. On the previous day, and on the day of the assault, he had had to be reminded to switch on the oven. There was nothing to suggest that “he had a short temper or was in any way vicious”.

Day of the attack

On the morning of 16 August 2005, Mr Wallbank noticed that Mr Brown was not using the oven efficiently and so he said: “Why didn’t you load the rest of it on? You just lost an oven load of heat.” Mr Wallbank walked to the other end of the oven to help Mr Brown. Angered, Mr Brown grabbed Mr Wallbank’s face and threw him onto a table. Mr Wallbank sustained a fracture of a vertebra in his lower back. An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital.

Mr Brown was dismissed for gross misconduct. He was also convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm and ordered to pay compensation of £600 in a criminal trial. Mr Wallbank also received some compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Mr Wallbank sued his own company – essentially seeking compensation from his company’s insurers for the attack by his employee.

Did the court order the insurers to compensate the boss?

Yes. The Court of Appeal found that Mr Wallbank could receive compensation from the insurers for his own company, finding that Mr Brown had been acting in the course of his employment when he attacked his boss.

Truth Legal’s Comments

This is an interesting case in which the boss managed to sue his own company for the actions of one of his employees. It is also interesting that the boss received compensation from Mr Brown himself as ordered by the criminal courts, and also received compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, and also from the company’s insurers. Three different amounts of compensation for the same incident.

See the full case report here.

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