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Can we hold an ex-employee liable for damage caused to a lease vehicle by that employee during working hours?

Can we hold an ex-employee liable for damage caused to a lease vehicle by that employee during working hours ?

Article 7:661, paragraph 1 of the Dutch Civil Code states that an employee is in principle not liable for damage caused during working hours. The exception is when this damage can be proven to be the result of intent or deliberate recklessness. According to the Dutch Supreme Court, deliberate recklessness is only applicable if the employee in question is actually aware of the reckless nature of his/her behavior immediately prior to the damage caused. The burden of proof is with the employer and the bar is set high: the bad intentions of the employee must be proven. This also applies to damage caused to a lease vehicle. Only if damage was caused through deliberate or reckless intent can you hold an employee liable for damage caused during working hours and can you legally compel him/her to pay the deductible amount on the lease.

Void

However, it turns out that in practice many organizations have lease regulations with their employees which contain void agreements. It is often the case that these regulations dictate that an employee is held liable for damage caused during working hours. However, article 7:661, paragraph 2 lays down that this is only possible if an employee is insured against damages. In all other instances, you cannot hold the employee liable; except if you can prove the damage is the result of intent or deliberate recklessness, as was discussed above.
On the other hand, you are permitted to include agreements in the lease regulations which hold an employee liable for damage caused to a lease vehicle outside working hours or caused by others, such as family members or friends. Commuting time in principle falls outside working hours, except when the employee in question is carrying out activities on your behalf during his/her commute.
Because the question mentioned at the beginning pertains to an ex-employee, you must prove the damage caused at the time was indeed at the hands of the respective employee and that it was the result of intent or deliberate recklessness or that it was caused outside working hours. This will be quite a challenge and there is not a great chance of succeeding.

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