TORT 2.6A VICARIOUS LIABILITY (INTRODUCTION)
Look at this amateur example (meaning that it is straight-forward but real life situations may be more complex): Mrs Jumoke is in a hurry to attend a board meeting. She instructs Kunle (her driver) to speed faster and he hits Mrs Adebola’s. The two thick madams (Mrs Jumoke and Mrs Adebola) were engaged in a heated argument. They exchanged contacts and agreed to settle later. After the Board Meeting, Mrs Jumoke got home angry and hungry. When she gets home, she discovers that the parlour was in a mess and Osaro (the housemaid) did not prepare any food. She says; “Osaro, I’m so tired, I cannot even shout or beat you… Kunle, please help me give am one dirty slap, just one good slap sharp sharp”. Kunle then slaps Osaro. Mrs Jumoke is not satisfied and she slaps Kunle for not slapping Osaro well. Kunle then says; “madam, I should slap her well again abi?”. Mrs Jumoke says “Yes na”. Kunle then slaps Osaro real hard. This causes her to slump. In summary, she was admitted into the hospital for three weeks. The hospital bill is 1.2 million Naira.
From the above Scenario, through the doctrine of Vicarious Liability Mrs Adebola can sue Mrs Jumoke (or her insurance co) for the money to be used in fixing her damaged car. Mrs Jumoke would also be made to bear the liability for Osaro’s Hospital bill. She may also be sued for the tort of Battery. Now you may ask; why not sue Kunle? He was the one that “jammed” the car, he was the one that slapped Osaro. The answer shall be understood as you read the course.
Kindly try to allude your understanding (as you read this topic) to this scenario if you can
Vicarious Liability is not a tort per se but rather, a rule of responsibility which makes X liable for the tort of Y because of their relationship and also for fairness, economic and policy reasons. The relationship is usually that of master and servant.
For an employer to be held vicariously liable for the tort of his servant/employee:
- The servant (employee) must have committed a tort.
- There must be a master-servant relationship.
- The tort should have been committed in the course of employment. Not really a must must sha.
We shall take them one by one in the subsequent lessons.