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Vicarious Liability

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HomeBrud.gifJurisprudenceBrud.gifLiabilityBrud.gifVicarious Liability

The expression Vicarious Liability means a "liability, which is incurred for or instead of another". i.e. A person will be held liable for the conduct of another person. It plays an important role in the Law of Torts and Civil Law. In certain exceptions, Vicarious Liability is applied in Criminal Law.

This form of liability is also called deemed liability.

The concept of Vicarious liability has evolved from old Latin doctrine of ‘respondeat superior’, which roughly translates to ‘let the master / superior answer’.

This form of liability disregards whether there was actually any mens rea or not on the part of the person concerned.


  • A Supervisor is held liable for the act of a subordinate.
  • The Director or a responsible officer is liable for the wrong acts of the company.

Topics in Vicarious Liability

  • Principal and Agent
  • Partners
  • Master and Servant
    • Liability of employer for the acts of an independent contractor
    • Sub Contractor
    • Liability of vehicle owners
    • Exceptions
  • Course of employment
  • Act outside the course of employment
  • Effect of Express prohibition
  • Doctrine of Common Employment
  • Vicarious liability of the State
  • Guardian and Ward or Father and Child
  • Husband and Wife

Vicarious Responsibility in International Law

According to International Law, the State is directly and vicarious responsible for the acts of its nationals over others.

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Law

  • Honeywill and Stein Ltd v. Larkin Brothers Ltd., (1934) 1 KB 191: It is important that Courts establish the existence of employee and employer. Generally, independent contractors do not impose vicarious liability on employers.
  • Yewens v. Noakes, (1880) 6 QBD 530: The Control Test: Identifying the existence of control employer and the employee in the form of master-servant helps is establishing vicarious liability.
  • Limpus v. London General Omnibus Co., (1862) 1 H & C 526; Century Insurance Co v. Northern Ireland Road Transport Board, (1942) AC 509: An employer will be held liable for either a wrongful act that they have authorised, or for a wrongful and unauthorised mode of performing an act that was authorised and not for the acts of the employee outside the course of the employment.
  • Lister v. Hesley Hall Ltd, (2001) UKHL 22: Where an intentional tort committed by an employee is closely connected to her duties, her employer may be found vicariously liable.

Related Topics