Definition

Joint Liability

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What is joint liability?

The obligation of two or more people to fulfil their responsibility of paying back debt or satisfying a liability is known as joint liability. With joint liability, the parties can share the risk associated with debt and moreover protect themselves in case of a lawsuit. The people who are part of joint liability are known as jointly liable.

Summary
  • The obligation of two or more people to fulfil their responsibility of paying back a debt or satisfying a liability is known as joint liability.
  • With joint liability, the parties can share the risk associated with debt and moreover protect themselves in case of a lawsuit.
  • The people who are part of joint liability are known as jointly liable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does joint liability work?

Joint liability arises when two or more parties jointly apply for debt as co-borrowers. In a general partnership, the regulation states that when a partner enters a debt contract without or with the knowledge of other partners, the contract binds all the partners. In case any partner defaults and lawsuits are filed, then all the partners are equally responsible for the fault and each partner must pay the compensation and monetary liability.

When partners enter a joint liability, then they possess the knowledge that they will be liable for the actions of the other partners in the contract.

What is joint liability?

What is an example of joint liability?

Let us suppose a couple enters a joint liability by signing for a loan. In case of the death of one of the spouses, the liability shifts to another partner and they will be liable to repay the rest of the loan amount. The liability of the other partner is dependent upon the default done by the borrowers.

The lender can sue once in case of joint liability. In the case of the partnership, generally, the creditors sue the partner who is more financially stable and can repay the loan. Creditors prefer if the borrower does not spend an extra amount for filing a case against the other partner.  

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What is the meaning of the term “jointly and severally”?

The term “jointly and severally” describes the legal setup in which each member in the partnership is equally responsible for the liability. Jointly and severally is also known as “joint and several liability”. Within a group of people or in partnerships, it is crucial that parties ascertain and differentiate the liabilities along with the extent to which a person is liable.

In the contract of joint and several liability, parties mention that responsibility will be either shared jointly by all the members or the same responsibility will be shared separately. Complex legal terms are used to define the responsibilities of the party involved to clarify the liability of the persons who enter the contract. The legally binding document identifies the parties who enter the contract, and they are obliged to fulfil their duties, actions and terms set forth in the agreement.

What is the difference between several liable and jointly liable?

In the case of several liable, the parties have liability only towards their respective obligation. However, in joint liability, all parties are equally responsible for all types of liabilities. To illustrate, imagine partners in a business taking up a loan for their company. Under a severally liable agreement, each partner has a specific share of the liability for which he/she is responsible. In case one of the partners defaults on the loan, then the lender can only sue the specific individual and not the others. Other partners have no obligation to repay the loan. Syndicate loan agreements mostly adopt several liabilities.

What are the elements of joint liability and “several and joint” liability?

Elements of joint liability – Joint liability stands for the liability which is assigned to two or more individuals who are part of any enterprise or a business. In joint liability, the partners of a partnership are equally liable for all the credits taken and the legal actions which might be taken against the business. The parties involved in a partnership share the same amount of risk in the context of the lawsuit, and the responsibility of debt.

In the case of the partnership, the partners will be liable when any of the partners comes in a legal contract without the approval of the rest of the partners. This is a clause of the partnership, as it is assumed in the partnership agreement that all the members are responsible for the actions of the entire group of partners. In case a third party sues one of the business partners, then another partner will also face the consequences such as paying the damages as stated by the court.

Elements of several & joint liability – The several and joint liability rules have been adopted by many states, in which the parties involved in the contract are held liable for the occurrence of any illegal activities or breach of a contract. Under this rule, any individual can be held liable for covering the damage that occurred during the partnership, irrespective of the personal liability of the individual. To illustrate, five people enter a partnership among which one of the partners has caused damage to one of the company’s clients. When the client sues the whole organisation, then as per the law, the most viable person to recover the damage will be held responsible for paying the damages and the law will not consider the fact that person responsible for the breach was someone else. However, the partner can sue the defaulting partner and ask him/her to pay the damages.

What is the difference between “several & joint” liability and joint liability?

The major difference is that, in the case of joint liability, all the partners are held equally responsible for any illegal activity done by any member. However, in the case of the several and joint liability, the liability of repaying the damages is shifted on the partner who has the ability to pay, or the person held responsible by the court.

Another major difference is that, in joint liability, members know the area where they will be held responsible. The same is not the case with several and joint liability, as no member has any knowledge of who will be held responsible.