The recent decision at Glasgow Sheriff Court in the case of Lauren Grubb against Natalie Shannon has once again highlighted the importance of social media as an evidential tool.
This was a case that involved an argument over whether or not the defender (Ms Shannon), a beauty salon owner, was liable for the negligence of a self-employed beauty therapist who she allowed to work in her salon “from time to time”. The therapist paid the defender £20.00 per day to allow her to work in the salon. There was no contract of employment between the defender and the beauty therapist, and as far as they were concerned, it was simply a case of “renting a chair” for £20.00 per day.
The pursuer (Ms Grubb), was treated by the therapist that rented the chair. She attended the salon for an eyebrow tint. The therapist failed to carry out a “patch test” which checks for allergic reactions before the full treatment. The pursuer thereafter had an allergic reaction to the treatment which caused pain, swelling and loss of eyebrow hair.
It was not in dispute that the therapist was negligent. What was in dispute was whether the salon owner was liable for the actions of the therapist, given that the therapist was not an employee of the salon owner.
The beauty therapist’s evidence was that there was no written agreement between her and the owner. When she did work, she paid rent of £20.00 per day. Ms Shannon was the owner of the business and each of the therapists was self-employed.
The social media evidence appears to have been fairly persuasive in assisting the sheriff when determining whether the owner of the business was indeed liable for the actions of the beauty therapist. The sheriff noted that the therapists as a group called themselves “the Blush ladies” on social media. Screenshots were taken of the business’ Facebook page; of the beauty therapist’s own personal Facebook page; and on all other advertising it seemed that there was “a closeness of connection that was akin to employment.” In finding in favour of the pursuer, the sheriff had to consider the legal test set out in recent case law to determine the liability position. Other important evidence had to be considered, however it is worth noting that the social media posts had gone some way in persuading the sheriff that there was sufficient evidence to show that the defender and the beauty therapist had a relationship akin to employer and employee, even if that was not the case on paper.
This was a complex case, involving various legal arguments however it also highlighted the use of social media as evidence, an option that was not available to parties in the not too distant past. It is worth bearing in mind that social media is more than just for sharing photographs with friends, and what you post on a public forum is now also capable of being used against you in court.
At Jackson Boyd we have experience of dealing with cosmetic surgery and beauty therapy cases. For more information, or to discuss a potential claim, please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.