Meaning of Vicarious Liability
Vicarious liability refers to a situation where someone is held responsible for the actions or omissions of another person. What we know till now is that generally a person is liable for his own wrongful acts and one does not incur any liability for the acts done by others. In certain cases, however, vicarious liability, that is the liability of one person for the acts of the other may arise. In order that the liability of A for the act done by B can arise, it is necessary that there is certain kind of relationship.
The common example of such a liability are:-
- Liability of a principal for the tort of his agent.
- Liability of partners for each others tort
- Liability of the master for the tort of his servant.
Reasons behind attaching vicarious liability to a master include-
Compensation/Damages- For the purpose of awarding adequate compensation to the injured part and stop the blame game against master and servant.
Avoiding exploitation of servant – Hire and Fire Rule. First directing servant to do the tortuous act and after he does it to fire him to avoid the consequences arising from thereof.
Respondent Superior- It means let the principal be held responsible. It is the principal in tort law holding an employer liable for the employee’s wrongful act, committed within the scope of employment of agency.
Qui facet alium facet per se – Every act which is done by the servant in the course of his duty is regarded as done by his masters orders and consequently it is the same as if it was the masters own act.
Essentials to constitute Vicarious Liability –
- Liability by Relationship – There should be some or the other relationship between the wrongdoer and the person who gave the order. Relationship can be of master- servant, principal- agent, Partners or Independent contractors or alike.
- Liability by Ratification – Under tort law, a person may be liable in respect of wrongful acts of another in three ways:-
- As having abetted the wrongful act committed by others.
- As having ratified the particular act with full knowledge or it being tortuous.
- As standing towards the other in a relation entailing responsibility for wrongs done by that person.
Course of Employment-
An act is deemed to be done in the course of employment if it is wrongful act authorized by the master or it is wrongful or unauthorized mode of doing some act authorized by master that is unauthorized in the way act is done by the servant.
Cases for vicarious liability-
- Pushabai Parshottam Udeshi and others v. MS Ranjit Ginning & Pressing Co. Pvt. and another, AIR 1977 SC 1735. – In this case, it has been held that when an act is committed by the driver in the course of employment or under the authority of the master, the liability would be that of the master.
- State of Maharashtra and others v. Kanchanmala Vijaysing Shirke and others AIR 1995 SC 2499. – In this case, A Clerk in a government department was driving a vehicle under the authority of driver at the time of accident and the vehicle was used in the connection of the state affairs and for official purpose. It was held by the lordships under the circumstances that the state cannot escape it’s vicarious liability to pay compensation to the heirs of the victim.
- Sitaram Motilal Kalal v. Santanuprasad Jaishankar Bhatt, AIR 1966 SC 1697.- In this case, it has been held that law is well settled that a master is vicariously liable for the acts of his servant acting in the course of employment, the servants act does not make the employer liable.
Submitted By- Prerana Anand
(Editor @ Legal Bites)