Q&As

What is joint, several, and joint and several liability?

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Published on LexisPSL on 27/11/2013

The following Commercial Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is joint, several, and joint and several liability?
  • Should I agree to take on joint liability under a contract?
  • What is the effect of joint liability?
  • What is the effect of several liability?
  • What is the effect of joint and several liability?
  • Where does this leave me and should I accept joint liability?

What is joint, several, and joint and several liability?

Should I agree to take on joint liability under a contract?

The not so helpful answer to that question is: it depends. It depends upon the type of contract you are entering, the bargaining positions of the parties involved and your relationship with the person you are contemplating taking joint liability with.

If express words are not used in a situation where two or more people contract to perform the same obligation there is a presumption that they do so jointly. This presumption can be rebutted with express words of severance (White v Tyndall [1886-90] All ER Rep Ext 1527).

In order to decide whether an obligation should be jointly undertaken it is helpful to remind ourselves of the effect of joint liability, several liability and joint and several liability under a contract.

What is the effect of joint liability?

Joint liability under a contract arises where two or more persons jointly promise to do the same thing in favour of another person. By way of

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