Joint Liability



  • Law concerns position when more than 1 person is liable and focuses on the relationship between them

2 vital distinctions

  • between single injury and separate injury
  • you have more than 1 liable, joint or several concurrent tortfeasors
  • Where a single injury is caused by 2 or more tortfeasors, they are 'several concurrent tortfeasors' unless the relationship falls into one of the following categories

(a) where one person is vicariously responsible for the tort of another

Rahman v Arearose - employer was vicariously liable for the tort of the employee

(b) where one person instigates another to commit a tort

Pitts v Hunt - passenger on a motorcycle was encouraged to drive negligently causing an accident. Both were held liable, faciliation of a tort doesn't join to the title of a joint tortfeasor.

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Classification 2

Mere facilitation of a tort does not make a person responsible as a joint tortfeasor

CBS Songs v Amstrad Consumer Electronics - D made hi-fi systems including recording from pre-recorded cassettes, faciliating breaches of copyright. Faciliation without encouragement was no sufficient.

Fish & Fish v Sea Shepherd UK - Fish farm, tuna, environment activist. Question was whether D was party to the common design of taking direct action, if acted in furtherance. Held statements on website and money was sent to do the ramming.

(c) where there is a breach of a duty imposed jointly on 2 or more persons

  • Eg joint occupiers - jointly owning a house, duty is imposed on both of them

(d) where persons take 'concerted action to a common end' and in executing that joint purpose, anyone commits a tort, all are liable as joint tortfeasors

Brooke v Bool - Landlord authorised lodger to strike the match, joint enterprise of both in pursuance of a concerted purpose. They were held to be joint tortfeasors.

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Joint Tortfeasors

  • Consequences of the distinction between concurrent tortfeasors and tortfeasors causing different damage: application of principles of contribution

Concurrent tortfeasors - each tortfeasor is liable for the whole damages, found in civil liability contribution act 1978 - each is liable for the whole amount - what is just and equitable in all the circumstances

  • Consequences of the distinction between joint tortfeasors and several concurrent tortfeasors: effectively none
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