A woman sued a Melbourne school for injuries and distress occasioned by its headmistress’s sexual abuse of her as a girl. Represented by Lennon Mazzeo solicitors’ Nick Mazzeo, Dyson Hore-Lacy QC and David Seeman, she obtained judgment from Justice Rush of the Supreme Court of Victoria for $1.25 million, a substantial proportion of which was for exemplary damages. The exemplary damages were awarded in part because as soon as persons at or associated with the highest levels of governance at the school decided there was substance to complaints of abuse by the headmistress, they arranged and paid for her to fly most hastily to Israel on a one-way ticket instead of reporting the claims to the police and allowing local justice to take its course.
Justice Rush provided an instructive summary about when a body corporate itself may be said to have acted through a person and when it is only vicariously liable for the actions of a person acting, for example, as the company’s employee. It is set out below. The application of that law to the facts followed at paras  to , and resulted in a finding that the school had sexually abused the girl. See Erlich v Leifer  VSC 499. Continue reading “Direct and vicarious liability of bodies corporate for conduct of natural persons”