On Wednesday 8 November, Professor Simon Deakin delivered the 2017 Cambridge Private Law Centre Allen & Overy Annual Law Lecture entitled “The evolution of vicarious liability”.
The common law of vicarious liability has evolved rapidly in the past two decades as a result of a greater use by appellate courts across several jurisdictions of functional reasoning, stressing the role of tort law in the allocation of costs and risks. At the same time, an alternative to vicarious liability as basis for enterprise or organisational liability has emerged, in the form of an expanded non-delegable duty of care. Similar changes have been occurring in some civil law jurisdictions.
These developments provide an opportunity to study how private law evolves in the face of changes in social norms and organisational structures, and to what extent common law and civil law methods differ in their capacity for evolutionary change.