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Joint Liability: Advantages, Disadvantages & Example

Updated: November 22, 2022

Liabilities are a normal part of operating a business. You’re going to incur them as your business conducts operations and generates revenue. But understanding how these liabilities work and ways to handle them appropriately is important.

And sometimes, you can take on certain responsibilities with another party. When this happens it’s known as joint liability. Read on to learn everything you need to know, such as how it works, the advantages, an example, and more.

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    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • Joint liability refers to the legal obligation of multiple parties to cover a debt or other liability.
    • When two or more people apply for credit jointly, which is frequently done in a general partnership, joint responsibility results.
    • All partners in the general partnership are liable for any agreements made by one of the partners.
    • Any partner may be sued when there is a shared liability agreement. Albeit this is usually done against the partner who is seen as being the most financially stable.

    What Is Joint Liability?

    Joint liability is the responsibility shared by two or more partners to repay a debt or fulfill a liability. A joint liability enables parties to share the risks of incurring debt and to defend themselves in legal proceedings. 

    Jointly liable refers to a person who is susceptible to shared liability.

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    How Joint Liability Works

    When two or more parties jointly apply for credit as co-borrowers, joint liability for the debt ensues. This is as is implicit in a general partnership. A general partnership’s rules state that any partner who enters into a contract obligates them all. This is either with or without the knowledge of the other partners 

    Every participant in a partnership is liable for any financial legal obligations or compensation. This is if a court determines that the partnership was negligent and at fault in a lawsuit. 

    Any partner who signs a joint responsibility agreement should be informed that they are also responsible for all of the other partners’ decisions regarding the partnership.

    Advantages of Joint Liability

    There are a number of advantages of joint liability. Here are a couple of the main ones: 

    • Joint and several liability is founded on the idea that the defendants are capable of determining their respective portions of responsibility or compensating the plaintiff. Once liability has been proven internally by the defendants, the plaintiff does not need to be involved in the legal proceedings.
    • A wealthy party frequently makes up for the financial shortcomings of other joint parties. This means that the plaintiff has a better chance of winning full damages.

    Disadvantages of Joint Liability

    There are also some disadvantages of joint liability. Let’s take a look at a few of the main ones:

    • It is common for parties who had nothing to do with the situation to be held financially responsible. The entire group would have to pay more than their original portion if they were all held liable and one member of the group failed to make payments.
    • A fair allocation of damages is frequently impossible due to mutual participation for damages.
    • One party with larger financial resources can nonetheless be required to pay far more. This is even if their involvement in the accident was minimal. 
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    Difference Between Joint Liability and Several Liability

    There is a fundamental distinction between several liability and joint liability. Joint liability describes the portion of responsibility apportioned to two or more parties engaged in a business. Several liability describes a circumstance in which each party is responsible for their own roles in the tortious act.

    Joint and several liability is another variant of joint liability. The defendants might choose how much blame and compensation to bear jointly and severally. The business partners can recover their debt share and allocate liability if a loan firm sues them.

    There are a number of other varieties of joint and several liability. Let’s take a look at two of them:

    Alternative Liability

    If it is impossible to pinpoint which party caused the plaintiff’s personal injury, alternative liability occurs when two separate parties may be held accountable for all of the plaintiff’s damages. In order for the defendants to absolve themselves of responsibility, this also shifts the burden of proof to them.

    Market Share Liability

    When there are several producers of a good on the market, this type of joint and several liability is applied. This can be used to hold manufacturers proportionately accountable. Depending on their market share if the court is unable to identify which manufacturer was at fault and made the good that caused the harm.

    Jointly Liable Example

    Let’s say that two business owners that share the same office space sign for a loan to improve the space. If one of the business owners goes bankrupt, then the other owner will remain liable for the balance of the loan. This is because they signed on as co-signer. 

    Joint liability allows creditors to file a single lawsuit for any debt. Creditors typically opt for the partner who has the biggest bank account or is most likely to pay. This is because they are unable to collect more funds from other partners in a partnership, 

    Summary

    The legal concept known as joint and several liability refers to a duty shared by two or more defendants in a lawsuit. Any or all of these may be sued by a party that has been wronged in order to recover the entire damages determined by the court.

    The plaintiff typically benefits from joint and several liability since it improves the likelihood that they will be able to recover the full amount of the damages granted.

    This could be viewed as unjust as the person that is actually at fault for the accident or event only has a little financial loss to endure.

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    FAQS About Joint Liability

    What Do Jointly and Severally Liable in a Partnership Mean?

    Joint and several liability in a contract occurs when two or more parties agree to do the same thing under the same circumstances.

    Who Has Joint and Several Liability?

    A legal concept known as joint and several liability refers to a duty shared by two or more defendants in a lawsuit. Any or all of these may be sued by a party that has been wronged in order to recover the entire damages determined by the court.

    What Is Constructive Liability?

    Constructive liability is one in which the existence of the essential components of crime does not determine the liability. The legal responsibility is based on the Latin proverb “versari in re illicita,” which indicates a person may also be held legally accountable for the effects of his illegal behavior.

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