Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Vicarious Liability Definition:

Liability for the tort of another even though the person being held responsible may not have done anything wrong.

This is often the case with employers who are held vicariously liable for the damages caused by their employees, provided that the tort occurs during the course of the employment.

Other examples of vicarious liability that can be found in common law jurisdictions are a partner for the actions of a another partner in a partnership, a principal for the acts of his agent, and the liability of an employer for the contract-related torts of his independent contractor.

Judicially, the term was considered in John Doe v Bennett 2004 SCC 17 where Chief Justice McLachlin of Canada's Supreme Court wrote, in a case that considered the liability of a church for the sexual assault of one of its priests:

"The doctrine of vicarious liability imputes liability to the employer or principal of a TortFeasor, not on the basis of the fault of the employer or principal, but on the ground that as the person responsible for the activity or enterprise in question, the employer or principal should be held responsible for loss to third parties that result from the activity or enterprise."

French: responsabilité du fait d'autrui.

Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!