The brutal attack occurred in the early hours of the morning following a drunken office Christmas party. Picture: iStock
The brutal attack occurred in the early hours of the morning following a drunken office Christmas party. Picture: iStock

$1.8m payout over boss’s Christmas party punch

IN December 2011, a work Christmas party took a bloody turn when a fight broke out between a boss and an employee.

On that night, sales manager Clive Bellman, who worked at Northampton Recruitment Ltd in the UK, was punched in the face twice by John Major, the company's managing director.

After the first hit, Mr Bellman managed to get back on his feet, but when he was punched a second time he fell back and hit his head on a marble floor.

According to The Mirror, Mr Bellman was left "catastrophically brain damaged" after the attack, which caused him to fall "straight back like a falling tree".

The fight occurred after a night of heavy drinking as staff members celebrated the holiday season.

Lawyers say the man, now aged 62, will claim more than £1 million ($A1.8 million) in damages after successfully suing his former workplace.

His claim was initially rejected in 2016 when judge Barry Cotter QC found the company was not responsible for the incident, which occurred at 3am after the office party had already ended.

At the time, he said Mr Major was not acting in his role as the company's managing director when the fight broke out at the Hilton Hotel.

However, that decision has now been overturned by three Court of Appeal judges, paving the way for a huge payout for Mr Bellman, who suffered a fractured skull and brain injury as a result of the attack by Mr Major, who he had known for decades.

Lady Justice Asplin ruled Mr Major had "misused his position" as the company's boss, The Mirror reported, and that he had been "wearing his hat" as managing director at the time.

She said the late-night drinks was "a very long way from being a social round of golf between colleagues".

"Mr Major was purporting to exercise his authority over his subordinates and was not merely one of a group of drunken revellers whose conversation had turned to work," the publication reported the judge as saying.

"It seems to me that the attack arose out of a misuse of the position entrusted to Mr Major as managing director.

"He asserted his authority in the presence of around 50% of Northampton Recruitment's staff and misused that authority."

While the exact amount of Mr Bellman's entitlements has not yet been calculated, his lawyers say it will be over $1.8 million.