5.30 pm for 6.00 pm start. Refreshments will be provided from 5.30 pm to 6.00 pm

The Law Futures Centre at Griffith University and the Australian Centre for Private Law at TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland invite you to a special guest seminar presented by Professor Christian Witting titled  'Organisational Vicarious Liability'.

This paper argues that the rules of vicarious liability are practical rules designed to achieve ordinary tort goals of compensation and deterrence, but that they have evolved differently according to the type of defendant in question. In the crucible years of the formation of the rules on vicarious liability, the central concept tying liability to the defendant was a liberal notion of ‘agency’. It is still the case that, where there are personal relations between the vicariously liable party and the wrongdoer, the best explanation for liability is a quasi-agency explanation. The defendant who appoints someone to do something for him or her has a particular relationship to ensuing wrongs. However, in most cases liability falls not upon individuals but upon organisations. A second strand of vicarious liability has become more apparent in recent times. This is imposed upon organisations because, typically, they are ‘deterrable’ parties, vicarious liability being a means of inducing from them the development of proper standards of conduct in all of their operations undertaken by employees and quasi-employees. This paper focuses upon an explanation of organisational vicarious liability.


Christian WittingChristian Witting is Professor of Private Law at Queen Mary University of London and Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore. He is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Australia, formerly in service with the Commonwealth Attorney’s General’s Department. Christian has research interests in both company law and tort law. He is the author of Liability of Corporate Groups and Networks (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and Liability for Negligent Misstatements (Oxford University Press, 2004). He is also the fourth and current author of the textbook Street on Torts (Oxford University Press, 15th edn, 2018).

Register online

About Australian Centre for Private Law Events

The mission of the ​Australian Centre for Private Law is to foster the development and understanding of the private law through advanced theoretical, doctrinal, empirical and historical research, and the dissemination of that research through education and professional outreach. By supporting the work of its Fellows, the ACPL seeks to promote research in all areas of private law and to establish itself as a research centre of national and international importance. The core initiatives of ACPL are:

Research: To advance a deeper understanding of the structure, principles and policies of the private law through advanced theoretical, comparative, and empirical analysis.

Education: To promote, facilitate and disseminate the results of that research for the benefit of Australia’s social and economic fabric.

Professional Outreach: To engage the judiciary and members of the legal profession in discussion about the values, goals and methods of private law and the respective roles of the judiciary, the legal profession and the academy in the interpretation and reform of private law.

The ACPL embraces all branches of private law, including the law of contract, torts, trusts, equity, property, unjust enrichment, including theoretical and jurisprudential dimensions and contextual applications thereof.


Level 12, 415 George Street, Brisbane
Supreme Court Library Conference Room