1

In Civil Law( legal system) there is no distinction between Liability and Responsibility.

One can only seek(judicially) the cessation of an illegal act if they have suffered damages.

One can only claim someone is Liable before the tribunal and not Responsible(they can't go to court unless they have been damaged).

What is the importance( in Common Law) of the provision of Responsibility distinct from Liability and enabling people to seek the cessation of an illegal act even if they have not been damaged?

Who would go to court if they have not been damaged? Are they simply busyjobs and vigilantes?

1

What is the importance( in Common Law) of the provision of Responsibility distinct from Liability and enabling people to seek the cessation of an illegal act even if they have not been damaged?

The purposes are (1) to prevent damages from materializing (at which point they would become liabilities), and (2) to ascertain who would be liable once damages materialize. Purposes (1) and (2) are known as injunctive relief and declaratory relief, respectively.

Injunctive relief is arguably more drastic and is intended for situations where irreparable loss is imminent or very likely. A respondent's conduct can be of such nature that no award in court could suffice to compensate for the loss caused by that respondent (i.e., the person responsible for the loss); or, if the award compensates at all, the losses would have been exacerbated by the time the correct ruling is made. Personal Protection Orders (example: this one) are one example of injunctive relief.

By contrast, declaratory relief does not strictly require the cessation of an act. Instead, it only determines beforehand or ex-ante the party who would be liable/entitled and the extent of that party's liability/entitlement.

Black's Law Dictionary defines "Responsible" as the entity "[a]ble to pay a sum for which he is or may become liable" (emphasis added). Thus, the concept of responsibility is wider encompassing than the term "liability".

8
  • 1
    In Civil law(legal system) I believe injuctive relief and declaratory relief are guaranteed by the Civil Procedure. One can seek Ασφαλιστικά Μέτρα, Διαταγή Πληρωμής and Αναγνωριστική Αγωγή. I believe Civil law(legal system) just manages to prevent the same damages through different means( Civil procedure as opposed to Civil law( not Criminal or Public)) May 15 '20 at 13:23
  • @GeorgeNtoulos "prevent the same damages through different means( Civil procedure as opposed to Civil law( not Criminal or Public))". It appears that you are confusing concepts. Civil law and civil procedure are not "different means" to pursue certain outcome.They are not substitutes. Civil law determines the parties' substantive or ultimate rights & duties, whereas laws of civil procedure determine how to enforce those rights in court. May 15 '20 at 13:48
  • In Greece we call The law that determines the parties' substantive or ultimate rights & duties Substantive Law( Civil Law is Private Substantive as is Labour law, Trade law, etc) and the laws that determine their enforcement( in court or outside of it as people sometimes refuse to conform with court decisions) Procedural Law. May 15 '20 at 23:41
  • Some times depending on what the Substantive Law is one can bend it by providing some temporary relief(temporary protection of the substantive rights) with the Procedural law. Which means there might not be Responsibility so as to seek permanent protection( Κύρια Αγωγή) but if the damage is iminent one can seek temporary relief for a limited amount of time. May 15 '20 at 23:46
  • 1
    @GeorgeNtoulos The phrase Civil Law is ambiguous. It can refer to (1) the system of law used in many countries in continental Europe (as distinct from the Common law systems in England, Australia, and the US). Or (2) it can refer to that part of law covering obligations between citizens (i.e. not criminal law). I think you mean (1) If you mean (1) then you could use the phrase "Civilian legal system" which is unambigupus.
    – Nemo
    2 days ago
0

What is the importance( in Common Law) of the provision of Responsibility distinct from Liability and enabling people to seek the cessation of an illegal act even if they have not been damaged?

Who would go to court if they have not been damaged? Are they simply busyjobs and vigilantes?

The terminology you are using isn't quite how it would ordinarily be discussed in a common law system.

People might go to court before they have been damages when the prospect of damage in the future is imminent, threatened, or likely but not certain.

For example, suppose someone has possession of your trade secrets as a former employee and is imminently about to commence work with another competing firm. You might seek an injunction to prevent that from happening.

Or, if someone has threatened to assault you, a court might issue a protection order, prohibiting that person from contacting you or getting close to you and ordering that the person's firearms be confiscated before an assault actually happens.

Or, someone has had a demolition permit issued to destroy a building that they allege is their building and you allege belongs to you. You might seek an injunction or declaratory relief to prevent that possibility.

You also might seek a declaratory judgment as to property ownership or boundary lines before building a fence or a building on what is at least arguably someone else's property, which could cause you to incur legal liability.

Or your might seek injunctive or declaratory relief if a law is passed that prohibits you from continuing your business (e.g. providing abortion services) and you believe that the law, if enforced, is unconstitutional, so you don't have to put money or liberty at risk to determine whether or not the law on the books is valid.

There are also circumstances in which a court can determined responsibility before damages are incurred even though they definitely will be incurred if there is responsibility.

For example, an insurance company might bring suit to determine if it is required to provide a legal defense to a putative insured who claims to have a valid policy from them. If the putative insured really is insured, the court might find that the insurance company is responsible for paying their legal defense costs as they are incurred, but it wouldn't have to do so if it was not responsible.

The issues could also be segregated in a class action lawsuit. A court might determine for a class as a whole, for example, that a company was responsible for all costs associated with a distinctive illness caused only by its product, but might reserve legal liability damages determinations for a case by case bifurcated trial process for each person in the class alleging to have had that disease and been damaged as a result. The class action might also hold open the ability of members of the class of people who used the product so that a judgment can be entered against the responsible party if the illness crops up later in a member of the class.

0

Here is an example from Tort law:

Every motorist has a legal duty to drive carefully.

If you do not drive carefully you have breached your legal duty.

But you will only be liable to pay damages if you have caused loss (i.e. if you have caused an accident).


Here is an example in Contract law:

If you breach a contract (i.e. fail to do what the contract says you have to do) then you have breached your legal duty.

If your breach of duty causes the other side loss then you are liable to compensate them for that loss.

If your breach of duty does not cause the other side loss then you are liable to pay them nominal damages - i.e. one GBP.

It is rare, these days, for anyone to go to court merely claiming nominal damages. Usually the question arises only where someone is claiming a larger sum in damages but the court decides they have suffered no loss and only awards nominal damages. This means that they have still won and will (in England and Wales at least) normally be entitled to costs.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.