Joint Tortfeasors

Joint Tortfeasors   

Author: Ayushi Ranade, HPNLU Shimla


When a tort is dedicated by using many persons, all the men and women worried in it end up joint tortfeasor. In addition to this, all humans will be accountable for the identical tort and will be deemed to be joint wrongdoers in the eyes of law. Now, at this point, it will become vital for one to recognize that to set up the incorrect dedicated through joint tortfeasors, there has to be some connection between the act of one alleged tortfeasor to that of the other.

Sargent L.J phrases related to this can be quoted as follows :

“There should be a concurrence in the act or acts inflicting damage, and now not in basic terms an accident of separate acts, which, through their conjoined effect, motive damage.”

As the case of In Palghat Coimbatore Transport Co. V. Narayana– There was once a collision between two buses which resulted in the loss of life of one of the passengers, besides in a swimsuit filed via the representatives of the deceased beneath Fatal Accidents Act, it was once held that the proprietors of each the bus organizations would be liable.

Concerning joint tortfeasors, the following three prepositions can be taken into consideration- Circumstances beneath which joint legal responsibility arises,

Agency- The thinking of employer presents that, on every occasion one character employes, authorizes or procures some other individual to commit a tort, the regulation takes into account the incorrect of each of them and eventually, each the foremost and the agent turn out to be at the same time and in my opinion accountable for the movements of the agent.

Arneil v. Paterson – In the aforementioned case, two puppies at a live performance which belonged to extraordinary owners, attacked a flock of sheep and injured many of them. When a swimsuit used to be added towards the proprietors of the dogs, one of them put forth a declare that he would be in charge solely for one-half. But it was once ultimately held that both the proprietors will be dependable for the total damage, as each of the puppies occasioned the entire of the damage.

Vicarious liability- Vicarious legal responsibility is thinking in law, whereby, the legal responsibility is assigned on a man or woman who did now not commit the incorrect however has a foremost felony relation with the character who dedicated the wrong. The conditions of vicarious legal responsibility normally occur in the case of worker and organization relations. In the case of vicarious liability, both, the individual who commits a tort and the character vicariously accountable for the incorrect are deemed to be joint tortfeasors.

Joint or frequent action- In the regulation of torts two or greater folks are stated to be joint tortfeasors if they act together in the tort or an equal swimsuit of motion is observed if one defendant has incited every other to commit the tort.

There are two ideas concerned in joint or frequent motion which will be mentioned under:

Accessory Liability– In the context of English frequent law, the legal responsibility for collaborating in another’s tort is viewed to be a shape of joint liability, however, at the equal time, it is ambiguous whether or not procurement is an idea which is extraordinary from that of a frequent plan or if it is a subset of it. Considering it on a total it can be concluded that the regulation favors procurement as a subset of regulation instead of taking it as a structure of the frequent design.

In the help of this, a judgment was once given in the case of CBS Songs Ltd v Amstrad Consumer Electronics whereby it was once held that procurer is a joint tortfeasor solely if he shares the graph of the predominant tortfeasor.

The tort of Common Design– In the case of Fish & Fish Ltd v Sea Shepherd UK, it used to be taken into account that to set up accent legal responsibility on a person, two factors are integral to be proved, which are, one- the defendant acted in a precise way and this used to be the purpose which led to the prevalence of the tort by way of the foremost actor. Two, the essential actor would have besides performed so in pursuance of a joint graph or “Common Design”. There is no hook up take a look at for deciding the frequent legal responsibility and it varies from one case to every other relying upon the data and instances of the case.

The nature of the joint tortfeasor’s liability

The nature of the legal responsibility of joint tortfeasor continually acts in the gain of the plaintiff or the injured birthday party and lays down several provisions by using the way of which justice can be served to the plaintiff. It is continually at the discretion of the injured birthday celebration or the plaintiff to both sue one of the many joint tortfeasors for the total harm induced to him or to make all the tortfeasors accountable for all the harm incurred through him.

Defendants who are mutually dependable for a tort have an inherent legal responsibility on them up to the full quantity of the judgment awarded to the plaintiff. A profitable plaintiff, on the different hand, as an alternative of both gather the complete quantity from one defendant or to take it from all of them collectively. Illustration- If there are two defendants A and B, and in an aforesaid go well with towards them, Defendant A is observed to be at 60% fault and defendant B is observed to be at 40% fault. Now if C is the plaintiff in this case, C has the discretion to both accumulate the complete quantity from A or B or to acquire the quantity with every person’s liability.

The second issue dealing with the nature of legal responsibility of tortfeasors throws mild on the launch of tortfeasors. It formulates that the launch of one tortfeasor would result in the launch of all tortfeasors. The purpose at the back of such nature of legal responsibility is the “Cause of Action”. The purpose of a motion in torts is continually one and indivisible, and the launch of one character from that motive of motion consequences in the launch of all joint tortfeasors who have been held liable. Furthermore, the intention of the events has no position to play in the launch of the tortfeasors. Further, a mere settlement to now not to sue a specific perpetrator has an exceptional standpoint and can be variedly unique from the launch of the tortfeasors.

The one-third issue attracts the interest of the plaintiff or the injured birthday party closer to the bar positioned on him with the “Future Course of Action”. Put in easy terms, the one-third thing can be defined as follows – When a judgment is surpassed or got towards one or extra tortfeasors, it would region a bar on the injured birthday celebration to similarly provoke any swimsuit in opposition to any precise tortfeasor or all of the tortfeasors collectively.

However, this used to be the scenario earlier, the current tendencies in the place of joint tortfeasor have come up with a view that judgment acquired towards one tortfeasor is no bar to provoke a motion in opposition to every other tortfeasor for the equal motive of action. But at the equal time, it is a well-established precept that the sum recoverable through the way of damages can’t exceed the number of damages that were once awarded the aid of the first judgment. This precise amendment in the regulation of torts used to be introduced utilizing The Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act 1935.

One of the drawbacks in the case of the joint tortfeasor is that it can make a defendant cease up paying damages which are disproportionate to his legal responsibility in the suit. Such situations come to mild in the case of insured and uninsured defendants. If anyone of the defendants in the swimsuit has a deeper pocket or large insurance coverage then he may additionally be underneath a duty to pay most of the damages even when he used to be now not a fundamental defendant.

Contribution between joint tortfeasors

This part of the article would lift forth the dialogue on the loophole worried in the legal responsibility between the joint tortfeasor, whereby one of the defendants might also be compelled to pay the entire share, even if he has a secondary involvement in the tort.

The thinking of contribution between the joint tortfeasor lays down that a tortfeasor who is compelled to pay the disproportionate quantity to the injured celebration has no proper to declare such a share from different or different parties.

This unique precept is based totally on the maxim ‘Ex Turpi Causa Non-Oritur Actio’, this maxim lays down that, No motion arises from an unlawful cause. More particular which means of the maxim can be quoted in the following manner- A individual who suffers harm at the arms of another, however, also, he has acted in an unconscionable manner must be disadvantaged of any treatment which the regulation would have in any other case provided.

In an English case, Everet v. Williams – Where the plaintiff and the defendants have been companions in toll road robbing and via the way of it accrued 2000 pounds, and then when the plaintiff filed a swimsuit for the share of the sum, the court docket disregarded the swimsuit on the grounds of it being Scandalous and Impertinent.

Merryweather v. Nixon

This was once a landmark the place it was once laid down that, in frequent law, a culprit can’t keep a motion for contribution in opposition to any other wrongdoer, even when the one looking for contribution would have comfy the full declare of damages. And this rule is popularly acknowledged as Merryweather v. Nixon Rule.

The statistics of this case concerned the following – M and N conjointly destroyed the equipment which belonged to R, eventually, R delivered a motion in opposition to each and received a declare of 840 kilos by way of the judgment delivered in his favor. The total quantity was once levied on M, who once more sought contribution from N for 1/2 of the amount by way of submitting a go well with in opposition to him. The courtroom laid down that M should now not recover.

The rule of Merryweather v. Nixon existed and had vast applicability however it existed with quite a few exceptions to it and these exceptions will be mentioned in an element in the approaching phase of the article.

Exceptions to the rule in Merryweather v. Nixon about contribution between wrong-doers

The utility of the well-established rule was once later restrained to the path of time the place the instances especially printed willful and mindful wrongdoing by using the defendant, and the exceptions related to this rule are listed as under The rule used to be no longer relevant in instances which worried negligence or the place there used to be an unintended breach of law.

Not relevant in instances of Indemnity, the place one man employed every other to do sure acts, furnished the acts had been no longer illegal in themselves using the way of their existence, for the reason of affirming a right. Not relevant the place there exists a proper contribution between the administrators or promoters of an employer who are collectively responsible for the misrepresentation contained in the prospectus. This factor is included beneath part sixty-two of Companies Act 1956. Taking into consideration admiralty motion in case of collision, it can be stated that, every time such movements are involved, the injury triggered through a vessel with the aid of collision with some other vessel will be borne equally with the aid of each the vessels.

Abolition of the rule in Merryweather v. Nixon

The case of Merryweather v. Nixon was once determined through the King’s Bench in 1799 with the aid of Lord Kenyon, C. J. It was once a Court of Common Law as wonderful from a Court of Equity. But it later stood abolished through The Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act, 1935. This act offers the following:

In opposite to the preceding law, the tortfeasor can now get a better contribution from different tortfeasors who is additionally responsible in recognizing the identical tort, it might also be both at the same time or otherwise. While improving the quantity from the tortfeasor, it is quintessential to make positive that the quantity is simply and equitable and in addition to this, it has a regard to the extent of the defendant’s legal responsibility to the aforesaid tort. The court docket has discretion in any given case to exempt a tortfeasor from the legal responsibility to contribute

Considering whether the maxim laid in  Merryweather v. Nixon is applicable in India

Before the abolition of the rule of Merryweather v. Nixon, the courts in India had a conflicting opinion related to the applicability of the rule. There have been several instances the place the rule of Merryweather v. Nixon used to be observed in India. It used to be freely utilized via the courts the place the events knew or ought to have regarded that they have been indulged in wrongdoing. In contradiction to this, the High Courts of Allahabad, Calcutta, and Nagpur had stringently held that the rule does now not have any applicability in India. The regulations laid down and observed through these courts used to be that a tortfeasor would have each proper to get better compensation from the different joint tortfeasor who was once additionally accountable for the identical tort.


The article has coated underneath its scope, various ideas, case laws and provisions associated with the construct of the joint tortfeasors. It showcases the rigid and affordable use of wrongful conduct law and the means of that, there is justice served within the interest of the society. There are changes and modifications brought within the wrongful conduct law relating to the liability of joint tortfeasors, to form it are available in line with the changes evolved within the society over the passage of your time. Further, where there was wrong being done on the part of the litigant with regard disproportionate to say of damages by the litigant just in case of joint tortfeasors, such provisions are keenly handled and there are modifications created to serve and shield the interests of the defendants.