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Case details

Trustees of the Barry Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Appellant) v BXB (Respondent)

Case ID: 2021/0089

Case summary

Issue

Did the Court of Appeal wrongly find the Trustees of the Barry Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (“the Congregation”) to be vicariously liable for a rape committed by one of their elders?

Facts

In 1990, the respondent, Mrs B, was raped by an elder of the Congregation, Mark Sewell, at his home, after they had been out evangelising together. Mr Sewell was convicted of raping Mrs B, and of indecently assaulting two other people, in 2014.

In 2017, Mrs B brought a claim for damages against the worldwide governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of Pennsylvania, and the appellant, the Trustees of the Congregation. She claimed that they were responsible in law (or, “vicariously liable”) for the rape, because of the nature of their relationship with Mr Sewell and because of the connection between that relationship and the commission of the rape.

Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal found in Mrs B’s favour. The Trustees of the Congregation now appeal to the Supreme Court.

Judgment appealed

[2021] EWCA 356

Parties

Appellant(s)

Trustees of Barry Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses

Respondent(s)

BXB

Appeal

Justices

Lord Reed, Lord Hodge, Lord Briggs, Lord Burrows, Lord Stephens

Hearing start date

13 February 2023

Hearing finish date

14 February 2023