Question: What Does Joint and Several Liability Mean?Answer:
In circumstances where two or more people are party to an agreement or all promise to do the same thing, they may be joint and severally liable if there is an issue. Joint and several liability commonly arises in circumstances where two or more parties sign a contract, or in the context of forming a partnership.
What is Joint Liability?
Joint liability means that two or more people together (jointly) promise to do the same thing. The people together have full responsibility for the full amount of the obligation. In this case, the promise or obligation is the same, so performance by one party would relieve the other parties of the obligation. Until the obligation is discharged by one of the parties, the other side (the party to whom the promise is owned) could sue either one or all of the parties for the full amount of the outstanding obligation.
What is Several Liability?
Several liability exists where two or more people make separate agreements with another party. In this case, one person’s fulfilment of their obligation does not discharge the other person’s obligation to fulfil their promise.
When taken together, joint and several liability arises. The effect of this is that the people both together, and separately, promise to do something. This results in one joint obligation and multiple several obligations. Since it is one obligation, performance by one person discharges all the others of their obligations. Until the obligation is discharged, however, each individual is liable for the entire obligation until it is performed. The other party can thus sue all the promisors together, or each separately, at their discretion.