Monday, 18 July 2022

Vicarious liability

 Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability is a liability where the master is liable for the tort of his servant, principal for his agent, partner for another partner and an employer for an employee. The legal maxim Qui Facit per alium Facit per se also applies to the concept of vicarious liability, which means he who acts for another, acts for himself.

Four important kinds of vicarious liability are:

Principal-Agent Relationship

A person who acts on behalf of the principal is known as an agent. As a result, if an agent commits an unlawful conduct while working for the master, the master will be held accountable for the agent's actions.

Let's say the agent does something in the principle's absence that benefits the principal, even if the principal is unaware of it. In that situation, he will be held liable since the agent operated in the principal's best interests.


To the same degree as the guilty partner, all of the partners are culpable. One of the two partners in Hamlyn vs Houston persuaded the plaintiff's clerk to reveal sensitive information about his employer's business. The court ruled that only one of the partners was accountable for the tort committed by the other.

Master and Servant

The master shall be held responsible for any tort or wrongful conduct performed by his servant while on the job. Obviously, the servant will be held accountable as well.

A master is responsible not just for actions committed by his servant, but also for deeds performed by him that are not explicitly authorised.

The principle of Respondent Superior will apply in this case, which states that the principal should be held accountable.

Even if the servant disobeyed the master's explicit orders, the master is accountable.

Employer and Independent Contractor

In most cases, an employer is not responsible for a tort committed by a subcontractor. However, there are several circumstances in which the employer may be held accountable.

  • Only if the employer has committed a tort is he accountable.

  • When his boss gives him permission to commit a crime.

  • In strict liability torts.

  • An independent contractor's negligence.

Vicarious Liability of State

Even the state has some obligations, therefore let's look at the vicarious responsibility situation in India and England.

England's position

A crown could not be sued in tort under common law, but the Monarchy Proceedings Act of 1947 makes the crown accountable for torts committed by its agents.

India's position

The state can be held accountable in India under vicarious responsibility, and it can only claim immunity if the conduct is a sovereign duty.

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