|Personal Capacity of husband & wife, alien enemy and corporation in Torts
Source : http://www.legalserviceindia.com
Author : Sugandha.ch
Published on : October 18, 2014
Personal Capacity of husband and wife alien enemy and corporation in Torts
Sir Fredrick Pollock once stated, “There is no personal capacity either in becoming liable for civil injuries or in the power of obtaining redress for them.” The general rule is that “all persons have the capacity to sue and be sued in tort”. However, there are certain exceptions to this general rule and is subject to modification in respect of certain categories of persons.
1) Husband and Wife
In the case of husband and wife, the issue of personal liability can be dealt with two scenarios. Firstly, husband’s liability for wife’s torts and secondly, action between the husband and wife.
i. Husband’s Liability for Wife’s Torts
- Under the common law, during the earlier phase of development of tort, a married woman couldn’t sue any person for any tort unless and until her husband joined her as a party to plaintiff. Also, it was not possible to sue a wife without making her husband as a party to defendant.
ii. Action between the Husband and Wife
- Earlier at common law, husband and wife could not sue each other for any tort committed against each other.
2) Alien Enemy
An alien enemy is a person of hostile nation or a person residing in or carrying on business in enemy territory, whatever his nationality, as defined in Scotland v. South African Territory Ltd (1971).
A corporation is an artificial person with a legal entity. Features of corporation lie in its name, perpetuity and existence to sue or be sued. Personal capacity of a corporation can be discussed in 2 phrases:
i. Suits by Corporation
A corporation can bring suits for civil wrongs which affect its existence. It can sue for torts against itself. It can sue for malicious prosecution of a winding up petition and even for libel that charges it with insolvency or dishonest and incompetent management. Further, it can sue for defamation where words cause injury to its reputation in relation to its trade or business.
ii. Suits against Corporation
Earlier it was held that a corporation has no mind and thus cannot be sued for torts involving fraud or motive. This difficulty was solved by ‘alter ego doctrine’. A corporation is liable for torts committed by its agents or servants in course of doing an act which is within the scope of the corporation. However, its liability can either be ultra vires or intra vires. Thus, it may be liable for torts like libel, trespass, conversion, negligence etc.
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