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Donoghue v. Salomon in the High Court

[2011] Journal of Personal Injury Law 249

20 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2013  

Ewan McGaughey

King's College London - School of Law

Date Written: November 2, 2011


Chandler v. Cape plc decided that a parent company was liable for asbestos injuries of an insolvent subsidiary’s employee, because the parent could exercise control over the subsidiary. This article recounts the case’s facts, assesses the reasoning and elaborates the potential implications. It posits that this decision, aside from being based on sound authority, is consistent both with limited liability as a restricted exception to the law of obligations, only justified so far as creditors may truly and freely opt out, and with the general law of tort, which holds people liable for the actions of third parties when they may exercise control. Four main questions over the implications are raised: can controlling parties be liable for any torts? Can any directors or shareholders be liable? What possibilities are there for tort claimants abroad to sue UK multinational parent companies? And how far beyond shareholding might a controlling relationship extend?

Keywords: Corporate veil, tort, limited liability

JEL Classification: K12, K13, K22, K31, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

McGaughey, Ewan, Donoghue v. Salomon in the High Court (November 2, 2011). [2011] Journal of Personal Injury Law 249. Available at SSRN: or

Ewan McGaughey (Contact Author)

King's College London - School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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