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Principal and Agent in Torts Law

Principal and Agent in Torts Law
Principal and Agent in Torts Law

Principal and Agent

When one person authorises another to commit a tort, both parties are liable for the consequences. This principle, "Qui facit per alium facit per se," means that the act of an agent is considered the act of the principal. Whether the authority is express or implied, the principal becomes liable for any wrongful act committed by the agent in the course of their duties.

In Lloyd v. Grace, Smith & Co., Mrs. Lloyd consulted a firm of solicitors about her property. The managing clerk, acting without her knowledge, advised her to sign documents that resulted in fraud. Despite the clerk's personal motives, the principal was held liable due to the apparent authority of the agent.

However, liability may not extend to situations where the agent acts beyond their scope of employment. In State Bank of India v. Shyama Devi, an employee misappropriated funds entrusted to him by a customer. Since he acted outside the scope of his employment, the bank was not held liable.

Even in cases of vicarious liability, where a friend or third party acts on behalf of the principal, the principal may still be liable. In Ormrod v. Crosville Motor Service Ltd., the owner of a car allowed his friend to drive it, resulting in an accident. The owner was held liable because the car was being used for his purpose.

However, there are exceptions. In Tirlok Singh v. Kailash Bharti, the owner of a motorcycle was not held liable for an accident caused by his younger brother, who took the motorcycle without permission. Since the brother was not acting as the owner's agent, vicarious liability did not apply.


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