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Is The Independent Contractor Liable, Or Are You?

John Jennings discusses how the issue of liability stands in today’s times, specifically referencing the independent contractor and the hiring organisation.


(Wednesday, August 7th, 2013) United Kingdom -  John Jennings says, “How do you stand when it comes to the issue of liability, as an independent contractor? This is a subject that does not get as much attention as it should from contractors, yet it is something that could be problematic if they do not safeguard themselves from the outset, or pay close attention to the wording of any contract they enter into.”

In English law there is something called ”vicarious liability“ where certain standards have to be met in determining whether an individual organisation is truly liable for damages or not. Fundamentally it has been found that employees of a particular organisation may be covered by their employer’s liability, as they were working ”under the direction“ of the employer in carrying out the duties, should this lead to an incident of some kind.”

Host John Jennings says: “In the case known as Ferguson versus John Dawson and Partners [Contractors] Limited, 1976, it was found that a certain element of control existed between the organisation and the independent contractor. In other words certain factors represented that the relationship was one of employer – employee, rather than otherwise.”

It all comes down to control. Liability can be imposed if an employer dictates what work has to be done and how it has to be done. If very precise instructions are given by the organisation to the independent contractor this can represent a causal link should any incident lead to harm as a consequence.”

At this point John Jennings goes on to say: “Look for the best independent contractor services you can find and ask them for their advice in relation to the wording included in your contracts. You need to be really clear where you stand from the point of view of liability, in order to get the correct type of insurance and to govern yourself properly. Likewise, you should be sure that the organisation you deal with is completely sure on the ground they stand on.”

John then conveys the idea behind how: “The law is a fluid thing and there are regular tests of an employee – employer relationship and the position of the independent contractor. Work only with companies that provide you with independent contractor services where they keep up with all these ”tests“ and know how the law may or may not be changing.”

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