joint and several liability

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Joint and Several Liability

A designation of liability by which members of a group are either individually or mutually responsible to a party in whose favor a judgment has been awarded.

Joint and several liability is a form of liability that is used in civil cases where two or more people are found liable for damages. The winning plaintiff in such a case may collect the entire judgment from any one of the parties, or from any and all of the parties in various amounts until the judgment is paid in full. In other words, if any of the defendants do not have enough money or assets to pay an equal share of the award, the other defendants must make up the difference.

Defendants in a civil suit can be held jointly and severally liable only if their concurrent acts brought about the harm to the plaintiff. The acts of the defendants do not have to be simultaneous: they must simply contribute to the same event. For example, assume that an electrician negligently installs an electrical line. Years later, another electrician inspects the line and approves it. When the plaintiff is subsequently injured by a short circuit in the line, the plaintiff may sue both electricians and hold them jointly and severally liable.

Joint and several liability can also arise where a Husband and Wife or members of an organization owe the government income taxes. In such cases, the revenue agency may collect on the debt from any and all of the debtors. In a contractual situation, where two or more persons are responsible for the same performance and default on their obligations, a nondefaulting party may hold any and all parties liable for damages resulting from the breach of performance.

A small number of states do not strictly follow the doctrine of joint and several liability. In such jurisdictions, called comparative Negligence jurisdictions, liability is prorated according to the percentage of the total damages attributable to each defendant's conduct.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

joint and several liability

liability where a person can be sued jointly with others or individually for the whole sum, leaving it to the person sued to recover from the others with whom he is jointly liable. For example, every partner is jointly liable with his co-partners and also severally liable for everything for which the firm becomes liable while he is a partner.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
If the employees allege that they have not been paid for the work performed, it is possible that the employing company can be jointly liable with the placement agency for the unpaid wages even if the employing company has fully paid the placement agency.
The new point about this provision is that, unlike most other criminal sanctions' provisions in different laws, it does not stipulate that the company shall be jointly liable for payment of fines or compensation awarded as a result of crimes committed in its name and for its account in case the responsible manager was found to be criminally liable for such offence.
The Board stated thatto be classified a "joint employer," jointly liable for labor violations, a business must have a direct and immediate connection to the employees in question.
An HMRC spokesman said: "The UK has led the way in holding online marketplaces jointly liable for VAT evaded overseas."
Mr Fortune says he did everything in his power to fix the communal drain by arranging for the council to attend, for which he says the neighbours were jointly liable. Mr Fortune also says that his rental rates are at the lower end and not uncommon for Edinburgh.
Under British law, the credit card issuer is jointly liable for your loss if something goes wrong.
Article 48 states that employers shall be jointly liable among themselves for any violation of this law and the transfer of all or part of the business shall also be jointly liable, with the original employer discharging the entire obligation imposed by the rules.
You have rights under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act which makes your bank jointly liable for a breach of contract - here the failure to deliver goods fit for purpose.
In a press statement, the Ministry pointed out the law allows a consumer to replace or return a defected product within 14 days of purchase (provided that it is not a rapidly perishable good) and further states that vendors and suppliers are jointly liable in such respect.
There were no steps put in place to prevent the harassment or to punish the offender and the company was therefore deemed jointly liable with the line manager.