The primary purpose of a joint and several liability clause is to ensure that the non-breaching party can recover damages or enforce contractual obligations, even if one or more of the liable parties is unable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibilities. This provision is particularly useful in contracts involving multiple parties, where the risk of non-performance or insolvency is higher.
A well-drafted joint and several liability clause typically contains the following key elements:
- Identification of Liable Parties: The clause should clearly identify the parties subject to joint and several liability, which may include individuals, businesses, or other legal entities.
- Scope of Liability: The clause should specify the contractual obligations or breaches for which the parties are jointly and severally liable. This may include payment obligations, performance guarantees, or indemnification requirements.
- Right to Seek Full Compensation: The clause should establish the non-breaching party's right to seek full compensation from any or all of the liable parties, regardless of their individual share of responsibility.
- Contribution Rights: The clause may also address the rights of the liable parties to seek contribution from each other, which allows a party who has paid more than their fair share of the damages to recover the excess amount from the other liable parties.
Examples of Joint and Several Liability Clauses in Commercial Contracts
In a contract between partners in a business venture, the joint and several liability clause may establish that each partner is responsible for the partnership's debts, obligations, and liabilities. This ensures that the creditors or other parties can recover their dues from any or all of the partners, even if one partner is insolvent or unwilling to pay.
In a contract between a lender and multiple borrowers, the joint and several liability clause may require each borrower to be responsible for the full repayment of the loan, regardless of their individual contributions to the borrowed funds. This provides the lender with greater security, as they can pursue repayment from any or all of the borrowers in the event of default.
"Party A and Party B hereby agree to be jointly and severally liable for any and all debts, liabilities, and obligations arising from or relating to the performance of this Agreement. Each party shall be responsible for the full satisfaction of any claim or demand made by any third party in connection with this Agreement, irrespective of the individual share of liability attributable to each party."
"The Borrower and the Guarantor acknowledge and agree that they shall be jointly and severally liable for the repayment of the Loan and any interest, fees, and costs associated therewith. In the event of default, the Lender may, at its sole discretion, pursue any and all legal remedies against the Borrower, the Guarantor, or both, without prejudice to any other rights or remedies available to the Lender under this Agreement or applicable law."
- American Law Institute (2003). Restatement (Third) of Torts: Apportionment of Liability. Philadelphia, PA: American Law Institute Publishers.
- Eisenberg, M. A. (1991). The Principle of Joint and Several Liability. The Business Lawyer, 46(3), 1063-1083.
- Gregory, D. M., & Kastely, A. H. (2006). Joint and Several Liability in Contract and Tort. Journal of Contract Law, 22(2), 123-146.
- McKendrick, E. (2014). Contract Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (6th ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
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