Liability for a Subordinate in the Most Recent Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court

The author discusses the problem of interpreting the “while performing” notion used in article 430 of the Civil Code – on the basis of the Supreme Court sentence of 2020. He criticizes the view, according to which, in order to impose liability on a supervisor, it is enough to have an adequate causal link between the act of entrustment and infringement of the aggrieved party’s goods. Its application would almost always mean imposing a quasi-guarantee liability on the supervisor. On the other hand, he defends the subordinate’s actions taken in order to perform the entrusted activity as the assessment criterion. The supervisor is liable to the extent to which he or she entrusts the performance of an activity to a person who: 1/ is subject to his or her management and 2/ is obliged to follow his/her instructions. It follows that article 430 of the Civil Code defines the notion of subordination in a stringent way. It corresponds with the position reflected in the earlier judicial decisions, which requires inter alia that the subordinate acts in general within the framework of the activities entrusted to him or her. This issue gains particular significance when a subordinate remains in a relationship of subordination with several supervisors, and the areas of entrustment are disparate. It is then necessary to indicate which area of entrustment is the subordinate’s breach of conduct connected with.

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