Joint Liability under Torts
When a tort is committed by numerous persons, all the persons implicated in it become joint
tortfeasor. In addition to this, all persons will be responsible for the same tort and will be seen
to be joint wrongdoers in the eyes of law. Now, at this point, it becomes vital for one to
understand that in order to show the wrong done by joint tortfeasors, there must be some
relationship between the act of one accused tortfeasor to that of the other.
Sargent L.J remarks regarding this can be stated as follows - “There must be a concurrence in
the act or acts causing injury, and not merely a coincidence of separate acts, which, by their
united effect, generate damage.” For Example– In Palghat Coimbatore Transport Co. V.
Narayana, When two buses collided, one passenger died as a result. The family of the dead
filed a lawsuit under the Fatal Accidents Act, and the court found that the owners of both bus
companies were responsible for the accident.
Circumstances that give rise to joint liability
Agency- The concept of agency provides that, whenever one person employes, authorises or
procures another person to commit a tort, the law takes into account the wrong of both of
them and eventually, both the principal and the agent become jointly and individually
responsible for the actions of the agent.
Vicarious Liability- Responsibility is ascribed to someone who did not commit
the wrong but who has a more superior legal relationship to the one who did.
Vicarious liability is an important notion in legal theory. Employee-employer
relationships are the most common source of vicarious liability. A joint
tortfeasor is one who is both the perpetrator of a crime and that of the
person who is being held vicariously responsible for that crime.
Joint/common action - Two or more people are considered to be joint
tortfeasors if they act together in the tort or if a single course of action is
pursued if one defendant has incited another to commit the tort, in the legal
Under the heading of collaborative or common activity, we will consider two principles.
Accessory Liability- English common law treats culpability for participation in another's tort
as a sort of joint liability; however, whether procurement is a concept distinct from common
design or just a subset of it remains unclear. When taken as a whole, the law appears to
favour procurement as a subset of law rather than treating it as a common design.
Tort of Common Design- When determining accessory culpability, two things must be
proven: first, the defendant acted in a certain way, and second, the defendant's actions caused
the primary actor to commit a tort. In Fish & Fish Ltd. v. Sea Shepherd UK, this was taken
into account. It is also possible that the principal player might have done so as part of a
"Common Design" or a common strategy. In finding common culpability, there is no set rule,
and the facts and circumstances of each case dictate how it should be applied.
The idea of joint tortfeasor has been extensively discussed in this article, including several
topics, case law, and legislation. It demonstrates how tort law can be used in a reasonable and
effective manner to achieve justice in the best interests of society. Changes and
improvements have been made to tort law involving joint tortfeasor liability in order to better
reflect society's evolving social norms.