An Analysis of vicarious liability in India

INTRODUCTION

Every person is accountable for the acts that they perform but not for the conduct of others. However, there are some instances in which a person is liable for the acts of another person, which is known as vicarious liability. So, for this to happen, both persons must have a certain type of relationship, and the act must be related to the relationship. These connections might be between a master and a servant or between a principal and an agency.

Vicarious responsibility is the culpability of one person for the actions of another person as a result of their relationship. For example, Saurav is Gaurav’s driver, and Gaurav asked Saurav to take his buddy Suryash to the airport. Because of his irresponsible driving, Saurav collides with Mahesh on their route. In this case, Gaurav was not even in the automobile when it collided with Mahesh, yet he was nevertheless held accountable for the accident caused by Saurav. This is due to the concept of vicarious responsibility.

As a result, vicarious liabilities only apply when a person is held accountable for the actions of another person. It is seen as an exception to the general rule that a person is only accountable for his own actions. The idea of ‘qui facit per se alium facit per se’, which means ‘He who commits an act through another is judged in law to do it himself,’ underpins vicarious responsibility.

Essentials of Vicarious Liability

The essentials of vicarious liability are:

  • There must be some kind of relationship between the parties.
  • The unlawful conduct must be perpetrated by someone else.
  • The improper act must occur while the employee is on the job.

Relations in Vicarious Liability

So, this liability can only take place when one party is socially superior to another party and superior party shall be considered liable. Some examples of these relationships are:

  • Master and Servant
  • Owner and Independent Contractor
  • Partners in Partnership Firm
  • Principal and Agent
  • Company and its Directors

Reasons for Vicarious Liability

The reasons behind holding the master liable for the actions of his servant are:

  • A servant is just an agent under the management and supervision of his employer. So, the servant works for the master, which means he does the task the way the master wants it done. As a result, the master must bear responsibility for the servant’s acts.
  • The master always enjoys the benefit generated from the servant’s labour, therefore he must also endure the loss caused by the servant’s activities, but only during the period of employment.
  • A master’s financial situation is more stable than that of a servant’s. As a result, the master is more likely to compensate for the losses produced by the servant’s tortious behaviour. However, masters are permitted to take reasonable care and steps to avoid such circumstances.

Scope of Employment

Employee acts connected to the duration of his job are considered the scope of employment. The scope of the work fluctuates depending on the job needs and the number of individuals needed to complete the task. There are times when a person is not operating within the boundaries of his or her job. These are some examples:

Independent Contractor 

An independent contractor is someone who does work for someone else. These contractors are not considered employees since they are not working in the scope of employment and are not subject to the employer’s liabilities.

Illegal Acts

Any criminal behaviour falls outside of the scope of employment. As a result, any injury produced by the illegal act is rarely deemed the employer’s obligation.

When an employee engages in an activity that is not directed or controlled by the employer, the employee is not acting within the scope of his or her job. In this case, if the employee does any wrongful tortious behaviour, the employer is not accountable for the resulting damages.

CONCLUSION

Vicarious responsibility only applies when one person is held accountable for the conduct of another. And the individual who is accountable must be superior to the other person. The wrongdoer must be acting in the course of his or her employment. For vicarious responsibility, the course of employment is required.

REFERENCES

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