4 Comments

  1. Jennie
    · Reply

    This seems nonsensical to me, and I can only think that it has been done for intimidatory purposes. If one were aiming for justice one would surely invoke the principle of vicarious liability; the party is surely more culpable than any named individual?

    I am more and more of the opinion that Rennard has decided that if he’s going down he’s going to take as much of the party with him as (in)humanly possible. 🙁

    • Liz W
      · Reply

      If the party doesn’t have legal personality – and I can’t think how it would – it can’t be sued by name. Picking someone to sue in a representative capacity is the only way to do it. (Happens a lot with insurance syndicates, trade unions, sports clubs and other such things). Any liability then falls on everyone being represented, which would presumably be all members of the English Party. There’s probably something in the small print when people join that limits their liability to the amount of their membership fee, though, in which case Rennard would be bound by that (having signed up to it when he became a member himself) and would be limited to enforcing against whatever funds the party holds centrally. In the case of the English Party specifically, probably not very much given that it usually acts through the Federal Party?

      Anyway, if the intention is indeed to sue the officers as representatives, the eventual claim form should say so. Anyone who wants to check that will be able to order a copy of the claim form from the court once it’s been issued and served and the defendants have acknowledged service. You need to know or be able to guess which court it was issued in, though, because there’s no central record of these things.

      • Andy Strange
        · Reply

        Thanks Liz. That makes sense and is somewhat reassuring. I’d assume it was likely that any action taken would be against individuals as representatives as you suggest.

        On the funds; the English Party theoretically gets all the membership income from the Party in England – but the vast majority of that either gets passed to the Federal Party or back to regions and local parties. So no, it doesn’t have much funds to be claimed against.

        I still think it is worth thinking about how to avoid putting volunteers in the frame in these situations. Perhaps an answer would be to establish the convention that if anyone wants to sue the Liberal Democrats they should address their legal action to the Party President alone. He or she being the “chief representative” of the Party as a whole. I don’t know if that is possible?

      • Richard Gadsden
        · Reply

        What options are there for a legal personality for the party? Industrial and Provident Society, I guess, is the closest.

        Could we legislatively create a new vehicle for associations of individuals – parties, Trades Unions, etc.

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