When is a servant said to have acted in the course of his employment?
[Law of Torts] – A master is not responsible for a wrongful act done by his servant unless it is done in “the course of his employment”. Normally we would not expect of any same or law-abiding person to direct his servant to go and assault another person or to speak ill of another. In such cases of positive direction both the master ad the servant will be equally liable as joint tortfeasors. In criminal law, such people are called abettors in crime. But the real difficulty arises only in cases where the really innocent master is sought to be made liable for any wrongful act that may have been done by his servant in the course of his employment. Under the rule it is sufficient to fix a master with liability if the wrong is committed as an incident to something that the servant is employed to do.
A servant is said to have acted in the course of his employment in the following cases: –
(i) when he does a wrongful act authorised by the master e.g. if a master engages a servant to assault a man (the master) must be liable for the tort committed by the servant; (ii) when he does the act in a wrongful and unauthorised manner and the act was authorised by his master.