By: Ronak Bansal
The act of conspiracy simply means a secret plan to do something which is unlawful and to be done in near future.
Conspiracy is both a tort and a crime .i.e.,
In Criminal Conspiracy, mere an agreement between the two parties to do an illegal act or a act which is legal but done by illegal means is actionable and it’s not necessary that the conspirators have acted in pursuance of the agreement.
Whereas, in civil Conspiracy, it is not actionable by a mere agreement between the parties, the tort of conspiracy is completed only when the actual damages were caused to the plaintiff.
Criminal Conspiracy is different from Conspiracy in Tort.
Conspiracy simply means that two or more people without legal justification who combined together to intentionally cause harm to the plaintiff, and the actual harm ensued, commit the civil conspiracy.
According to the principles of common law, justice, fairness and good conscience, and precedents, the civil conspiracy is not restricted by law and has a broader scope than the criminal conspiracy. Any conspiracy that meets the essential elements of the civil conspiracy may incur civil liability.
Essentials of tort of conspiracy (Civil Conspiracy):
Tort of conspiracy is further divided in two parts:
Conspiracy to Injure- “Crofter” Conspiracy
“Unlawful means” Conspiracy
DEFINITION AND MEANING
“A conspiracy is an unlawful combination of two or more persons to do something that is against the law, or to do something that is wrongful and detrimental to another person, or to carry out an object that is not inherently illegal but is carried out by illegal means.” When two or more persons agree to participate in an action in order to achieve an unlawful purpose or goal, and as a result, cause harm to another, this is known as civil conspiracy.
A civil conspiracy exists when:
1. Conspirators agree to work together to achieve an illegal purpose, or
2. Conspirators agree to attain a legal aim by illegal methods.
The conspiracy in relation with partnership can be established when a group of people come together by agreement to form a society in which each member becomes a partner or representative of each member and agrees to participate in the planning of an action .
It doesn't matter whether the conspirators are in combination at each stage of the conspiracy or not.
ESSENTIALS OF THE TORT OF CONSPIRACY
1. INTENTION: The first essential of civil conspiracy is a common intention to harm or injure another. A common desire to damage the other person is required for a tort to become a conspiracy.
If the true goal of the conspiracy is to promote or defend the trade of those who participate in it, then no wrong is done and no action is taken, even if harm is caused to others. Although the degree of harm-intention varies, its presence is critical. The goal or intent of the combination must be to harm the claimant.
If the real purpose of the conspiracy is to promote or defend the trades of those involved, no harm will be done or action will be taken even if harm is done to others. Presence is the crucial element. The aim or intention of the combination must be to cause harm to the applicant. If the act did not do to induce the claimant to suffer the harm, but for your own benefit, you are not responsible, no matter how selfish and inevitable your demeanor may be. Although ill-will is not required, If this state of mind motivates the accused, he can be held liable even if the same acts were lawful in the pursuit of his interests, in these cases it makes sense to ask what the main purpose of the merger was and whether the main reason for it was the interests to prosecute the defendant, his conduct cannot be challenged even if it is satisfied by the loss of the plaintiff. In order to bring an act within the jurisdiction of the conspiracy, the first question would be the intent of the accused and if the requisite will cannot be demonstrated, the entire proceedings of the plaintiff will fail.
2. COMBINATION: The second essential element of the tort of conspiracy is „combination”, which means that at least two or more persons must combine together, and there must be concerted action between them there must be voluntary agreement and intent to participate in furthering a common purpose so as to make a person liable under conspiracy
However, mere knowledge or consent without an actual agreement does not constitute a conspiracy. Furthermore, two separate entities working separately would not lead to a conspiracy even if they had the same intent have been combined and work together towards a common goal. Just having the same intention but no combination is not enough to lead to a conspiracy. For example, if a Mr. A enters his country with the intention of attacking Mr. X and Mr. B, also with the intention of attacking Mr. X, enters his country, this does not result in a conspiracy. Since then Mr. A and Mr. B had not been combined even though they had the same intention. But if Mr. A and Mr. B had made an agreement that Mr. A will attack Mr. X while Mr. B will stand guard at the door with the common intention of attacking Mr. X, then the element of the combination 'is complete, and this will lead to conspiracy. The conspirators under the conspiracy can also be husband and wife. As a unit, but under civil conspiracy, two are considered and can be charged with conspiracy. There can be no conspiracy between an employer and its employees, at least if they only concern themselves with their employer's affairs1. This means that an employer and its employees cannot be considered co-conspirators if the employees merely carry out their employer's instructions. This is a protection against employees who are responsible for conspiracy if they simply followed the instructions of their employer.
3. OVERT ACT: There must be some obvious behavior that hurts others. Well, it can only be regarded as a conspiracy of citizens. It is not required that the entire conspiracy be carried out and completed in order for this part of the conspiracy tort to be completed. It is simply necessary that some act toward the accomplishment of the conspirators' goal was carried out, and that this conduct caused some harm to the claimant.
A manifest act is not just evidence of a conspiracy. It has to be something else. In order for the element "Manifest Act" to be complete, one of the conspirators must have performed an act to accomplish the purpose of the conspiracy and its execution. Therefore, if the underlying acts cannot form part of a cause of action, for example evidence presented by witnesses in court, the complaint cannot be justified. The element of damage must be proven if the plaintiff incurred necessary costs to investigate the machinations of the defendants and to counteract them shown.
ELEMENTS OF CIVIL CONSPIRACY
The defendant entered into an agreement with at least one other person (agreement may be expressed or implied)
To commit a tort or other wrong;
The act was in furtherance of the agreement; and
The plaintiff suffered economic loss or other harm as a result of the tortious act or for the act that is not lawful.
CIVIL CONSPIRACY- WHO CAN BE HELD LAIBLE?
If the plaintiff demonstrates the elements of the civil conspiracy, he can claim damages for the civil conspiracy. The conspirator of the civil conspiracy can be held liable. The conspirator and the accomplice, both or individually, may be held liable for the injuries or damage suffered by the plaintiff. Even if the co-conspirator did not actively participate in the events that caused the injury, the conspirators are:
• Liable as perpetrators of the joint damage because they were involved in committing the wrong with others to achieve the combination that was criminal.
• You are jointly and severally liable for the damage caused by the actions of the co-conspirators. A co-conspirator who joins a conspiracy after some crime has already been committed cannot be held responsible for the previous crime,
e.g., if A & B agree to commit fraud in car insurance and then individually steal the car according to your plan. After the theft, they recruited C to help them with the plan. In this regard, it has been found that both A & B are jointly and severally liable for the theft and individual C is not liable for the theft because they joined the fraud program after the car theft. Person who has accepted the underlying illegal system to commit an unlawful act
Who is a conspirator?
A conspirator is any person who agreed to the underlying unlawful scheme to commit a tort
CIVIL CONSPIRACY: TYPES
1. Conspiracy to injure – “crofter” Conspiracy
If there is a combination of people, whose purpose is to inflict damage to the applicant, that objective can cause actions that would legally unlawful otherwise and would be legally if they were committed by a single person, even to with the aim of damage cause. Conspiracy, the main purpose of the combination is to hurt the other party. What is required in this type of conspiracy is that the combiners had to act so that the applicant suffered damage when they acted for their own benefit they are not liable under this how selfish their attitude might be and how inevitable the damage may have been the applicant. A combination that without the use of illegal means inflicts other damage is not feasible. In the words of Viscount Simon: "The predominant purpose is to inflict another person harm, and damage turns out to be illegal conspiracy If the dominant purpose of legal protection or promotion is a legitimate interest of the combiner (this does not mean illegal be busy)), it is an unlawful conspiracy, even if it inflicts another person harm. "