Man of straw?Watch
Writing an essay on vicarious liability and I've been told tomention about a man of straw? What does this mean? Thanks
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Im doing GCSE Law so don't really understand what this means! How would I use this as a criticism of vicarious liability?
Anyway - looking over the definition I'd suppose that you could criticise it on the basis that a company who is vicariously liable might be able to absolve or avoid liability by using a 'straw man' - essentially by either misleading or hiding the true culprit. It's much harder to impose liability if you have no real defendant, or they turn out to be false.
I'd consult your teacher but that's what I can think of.
Consider the following example. X is employed as a rubbish collector by D county council. X drives one of D's lorries. One day X, collecting rubbish while drunk, crashes his lorry into C's factory, causing £5m worth of damage. Now C could clearly sue X in negligence for the damage caused. But X is a rubbish collector. The chances of him having £5m to pay the damages is minuscule. He is a 'man of straw'. However, C can sue D, who is vicariously liable for X as his employer (given that X was acting in the course of his duties, etc etc). D county council will certainly have £5m to pay the damages. D will have a claim against X as well, after paying £5m to C, but they won't get much joy out of that. [In practice it might be C's insurers claiming against D's insurers, but that doesn't affect the underlying idea].
You can imagine that the situation comes up a lot in vicarious liability cases. Individual employees may be (a) relatively poor, and (b) in a position where they can cause a lot of damage. They will often be unable to meet claims against them. The employer on the is much more likely to be able to pay.