Part A – Officeholders’ Liability
Many officeholders are unaware of the scope of their liability for omissions, safety defects and various faults that they are in charge of, whether directly or indirectly. In recent years there is an unequivocal trend to broaden the liability of various officeholders at corporate bodies and other agencies, both from a criminal aspect and civil aspect.
Which laws impose criminal liability upon officeholders?
Below is a brief summary of some of the laws imposing, inter alia, criminal liability upon various officeholders:
Traffic Safety Ordinance – The main piece of legislation in the traffic laws field. This Ordinance, accompanied by many orders and regulations anchoring, inter alia, the ownership and liability presumption upon the person having control over a vehicle, basic provisions with respect to vehicle licensing and drivers’ licensing. The penal sections alongside the traffic offenses and provisions relating to the authorized courts.
Penal Code – This law imposes criminal liability upon the offender. In this respect it is noted that the High Court has held that criminal liability may be imposed upon an officeholder in a corporate body also in a case the corporate body itself is the one that committed the criminal acts, and this by virtue of vicarious liability.
The Torts Ordinance – Concerns civil liability imposed upon civil wrongdoers, to compensate for acts or omissions that caused damage. As stated above, an officeholder in a company is not granted immunity for civil wrongs committed in person just because he is an organ in a company.
Safety at Work Ordinance – This Ordinance, accompanied by many orders and regulations anchoring, inter alia, the liability of officeholders for the safety of the employees at the work places. In the majority of cases, the officeholders are unaware of the scope of their liability and the full extent of the many requirements deriving from these regulations and orders, and therefore they are exposed to miscellaneous criminal and civil claims.
Judgments concerning safety at the workplace – The courts hold that although the officeholders do not routinely deal hands-on with the issue of safety and for the most part they are not related whatsoever to accidents that happened at the work place, the employer has an obligation to uphold the obligations and workplace safety procedures, due to the fact that they hold the existing means to determine behavioral patterns at the workplace.
Most officeholders in various organizations are of the opinion that the extent of their remoteness in the organizational hierarchy shall serve as a defense for them. These officeholders argue in courts that not only are they unaware of the legal requirements in the professional field, but they also cannot be aware of these requirements and cannot engage in this field in person, since they have no professional ability to do so. All these arguments are rejected by the courts, who have held in numerous judgments that ignorance of such or other statutory requirements does not exempt him of liability, all the more so when referring to officeholders in an organization, who have many resources and means available to them to control the matter
- Legislation and Owners’ Liability in the field of traffic safety
10.b – Prohibition to drive without a driving license:
A vehicle owner and someone having control over a vehicle shall not permit another to drive the vehicle who is unauthorized pursuant to sub-section (a) to drive it, provided that the vehicle owner or whoever has control over the vehicle, shall not be liable for a person unauthorized to drive it driving, if he proves that he invoked all reasonable measures preventing that person from driving the vehicle.
27.b The Vehicle Owner’s Liability (Amendment No. 24)
(a) Whereupon a traffic violation in a vehicle was committed, the vehicle owner shall be deemed to have driven the vehicle at that time or as permitting it to be driven or parking it at a place at which it is prohibited by law to be permitted to be driven or parked, as applicable, unless he proves who drove the vehicle, permitted it to be driven or parked it as stated above or it was proven who had possession of the vehicle (hereunder – the Possessor), or it was proven that the vehicle was taken from him without his knowledge and consent.
(b) If the vehicle owner proved to whom he gave possession of the vehicle, then the presumption in sub-section (a) shall apply to the Possessor.
36.b The Driver of a Vehicle without the Owner’s Permission
(a) The driver of a vehicle without the owner or the lawful possessor of the vehicle’s possession, and without the driver holding a valid driving license for that type of vehicle, the actual possessor or recipient of a driving license shall be disqualified for a period of no less than three years, in addition to any other punishment adjudicated by the court,
(c) a vehicle owner or whoever has control over the vehicle, who permitted another person to drive it knowing that the person does not hold a driving license for that type of vehicle, is punishable by three years actual imprisonment with or without a fine of 100,000 Lira, and if that person was a minor who is unable to obtain a driving license – five years’ imprisonment with or without a fine
68 A. Vehicle Owner’s Supervisory Duty
A vehicle owner or whoever has control over the vehicle (in this section – the vehicle owner) must supervise and do all that he can to prevent an offense being committed …… by a person driving the vehicle with his permission and someone performing work or a service for him; a vehicle owner violating the provisions in this section shall be punishable by a fine as stated in Section 61(a)(3) to the Penal Code, 5737-1977.
Regulation 162 Vehicle Owner’s Liability
(a) A vehicle owner, or whoever had control over the vehicle, shall not instruct and shall not allow the driver of the vehicle to drive it, to leave it or park it in an manner contrary to the regulations, including but not limited to the bylaws, enacted under the Ordinance.
(b) Anywhere the provisions in this part impose liability upon a driver of a vehicle, liability shall also apply to the owner of the vehicle; unless the vehicle owner proves that the offense was committed without his knowledge and consent or he invoked all reasonable means to prevent it being committed.
Regulation 309 Use of a Vehicle that was Damaged
(a) The owner of a vehicle, safety officer or whoever has control over a vehicle, shall not use the vehicle and shall not permit another to use it, if its steering system, brakes, chassis, length beam, width beam, body parts beyond the front and rear wheel axis, roof body frame, body floor in the passenger cabin or front and rear hanger system has been damaged or damage caused to the opening of the air bags, until after the vehicle was repaired at the enterprise and was granted a test certificate by the professional manager at the testing enterprise
Section 22 – Strict Liability and Scope (Amendment No. 39)
(a) A person shall bear strict liability for an offence, if legislation prescribes that an offence thereunder shall not require proof of mens rea or negligence;
Scope of a Corporate Body’s Criminal Liability (Amendment No. 39)
- (a) A corporate body shall bear criminal liability –
(1) In accordance with Section 22, for an offence committed by a person during the course of fulfilling his functions in the corporate body;
Transportation in a dangerous transportation vehicle [246/A] (Amendment No. 12) 5740 – 1980
- Whoever knowingly or negligently drives a person or causes him to be driven in a transportation vehicle when the passenger’s safety is feared due to the condition or cargo of the vehicle, is punishable – three years’ imprisonment,
Roadway Risk [247/A] 
- A person committing an act or not taking reasonable caution with respect to a property in his possession or under his supervision and thereby causes danger, obstacle or damage to a person on a public roadway…., is punishable by three years’ imprisonment.
The Defendant’s vicarious liability as employer of a driver and owner of the vehicle.
This liability is based on Section 13 of the Torts Ordinance, titled: “Employer’s Liability” in which it was determined, inter alia:
(a) For the purposes of this Ordinance, an employer shall be liable for any act committed by his employee –
(1) if he has authorized or ratified that act;
(2) if it is committed by his employee in the course of his employment…
- b) An act shall be deemed to have been done in the course of an employee’s employment if it was done by him in his capacity as an employee and while he was performing the usual duties of and incidental to his employment, notwithstanding that the act was an improper mode of performing an act authorized by the employer; but an act shall not be deemed to have been so done if it was done by an employee for his own goals and not on behalf of the employer.
- c) In respect of this section, an act – including but not limited to an omission”.
As stated above there are three conditions to hold an employer liable and they are:
- The existence of an employee – employer relationship.
- A civil wrong was committed by the employee.
- The civil wrong was committed in the course of work – for the employer.