Disclaimer: This work was produced by one of our expert legal writers, as a learning aid to help law students with their studies.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of LawTeacher.net. Any information contained in this case summary does not constitute legal advice and should be treated as educational content only.

Elder Dempster v Paterson Zochonis

287 words (1 pages) Case Summary

17th Jun 2019 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

Elder Dempster v Paterson Zochonis

Recognised the vicarious liability principle, whereby a principle party’s agents may expect the same protections as contractually provided to the principle.


An action in tortious negligence was brought against a ship owner for failing to properly store cargo. In response, the ship owner attempted to rely on an exclusion of liability clause written in the bills of lading, even though the contract regarding the cargo’s transport had been made between the shipper and charterer.


Whether an exclusion of liability clause in a contract could be relied upon by a party who was not privy to the contract.


The House of Lords unanimously held that the ship owner could successfully rely upon the exclusion of liability clause as a defence to tortious negligence, on the grounds of vicarious immunity. Per this principle, an agent of a party may expect and claim the same liability immunity that their employer/the instructing agent held. Thus, despite that the ship owner was not privy to the bills of lading agreement, as an agent of the charterer, they could claim protection from the same exclusion of liability clause that the charterer’s benefit from. Notably, public policy was considered to be an influential factor here, given the impact it would have had on the shipping industry were liability imposed. Furthermore, despite the unanimous decision, this case is noted for the disparate reasoning of the presiding judges and its influence on conceptions of the theoretical and jurisprudential underpinnings of contract law.

Words: 254

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

Related Content

Jurisdictions / Tags

Content relating to: "UK Law"

UK law covers the laws and legislation of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Essays, case summaries, problem questions and dissertations here are relevant to law students from the United Kingdom and Great Britain, as well as students wishing to learn more about the UK legal system from overseas.

Related Articles