Vicarious Liability – Law of Torts – Notes

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Vicarious Liability – It is a concept based on legal maxim “Respondeat superior” which means let the master answer. It is usually applied in fiduciary relationships such as employer and employee or principal and agent.  Vicarious liability is applied only if the person causing the tort is acting within the regular course of his employment. In Unites States in certain cases even parents are held vicariously liable for their children’s acts.

Keppel Bus Co v Ahmad ([1974] 2 All ER 700) – Plaintiff was a passenger who objected to a bus conductor’s treatment of another passenger and then insulting language was assaulted by the conductor. The employer was held not liable as the court held that insults to passengers are not part of the due performance of a conductor’s duty.

Bayley v Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Co [(1873) LR 8 CP 148] – A porter, believing a passenger was on the wrong train, violently pulled him off, causing injury. The court held the porter acted as an employee but did so in a negligent way and hence the defendant was vicariously liable for plaintiff’s loss.

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