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Rights of Indemnifier in India | Civil Law for Judiciary Exams PDF Download

Indemnity Concept

  • Indemnity involves a contractual agreement where one party (the indemnifier) promises to compensate the other party (the indemnitee) for losses or damages resulting from specific events or actions.
  • Legally, in India, indemnity rights are safeguarded under laws like the Indian Contract Act of 1872 and other relevant statutes.
  • Understanding indemnity rights is crucial for businesses and individuals to protect their interests when entering into such agreements.

Definition and Explanation of Indemnity Rights

  • Indemnity rights are contractual privileges granted to the indemnifier, who undertakes to reimburse the indemnified party for losses incurred due to specified events or actions.
  • These rights stem from a contract, typically in the form of an indemnity clause, which delineates the indemnifier's obligations comprehensively.
  • For instance, if Company A indemnifies Company B against any legal claims arising from a faulty product, Company A would cover legal expenses and potential damages on behalf of Company B.

Understanding the Significance of Indemnity Rights in Contracts

  • Indemnity rights play a vital role in contracts, especially within commercial and business settings, by offering protection to the indemnified party against potential losses or damages.
  • These rights serve to distribute risks and liabilities among the involved parties, enabling the indemnifier to shoulder specific risks while safeguarding the indemnity holder from potential financial harm.

Allocation of Risks

  • Indemnity rights help in clearly defining and allocating risks within a contractual agreement.
  • For instance, in a construction contract, the contractor may indemnify the client against any third-party claims arising due to the contractor's work, thus shielding the client from legal and financial repercussions.

Financial Protection

  • By granting indemnity rights, contracts ensure that parties are financially safeguarded in case of unforeseen events or breaches of contract terms.
  • For example, in a software licensing agreement, the licensor might provide indemnity to the licensee against intellectual property infringement claims related to the software being licensed.

Question for Rights of Indemnifier in India
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What are indemnity rights?
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Provisions under Indian Contract Act, 1872

  • Governing Law in India: The Indian Contract Act, 1872, oversees the regulations concerning indemnity rights within the country.
  • Sections 124 and 125: These specific sections of the Act focus on the intricacies of contracts of indemnity. They delineate the rights, duties, and constraints of both the indemnifier and the indemnity holder.
  • Legal Framework: The Act establishes a structured legal framework that governs indemnity agreements in India, ensuring clarity and enforceability.
  • Rights and Obligations: It delineates the rights and responsibilities of the indemnifier and the indemnity holder, setting the groundwork for their interactions.
  • Limitations: The Act also imposes limitations on the scope and extent of indemnity, ensuring fairness and preventing abuse of indemnity agreements.

Rights of Indemnifier in India

Right to Control and Settle Claims

  • The indemnifier in India holds the authority to manage and resolve any claims or legal disputes related to the events or actions covered by the indemnity. This includes activities such as hiring legal representatives, negotiating settlements, and initiating legal proceedings.
  • They are empowered to make decisions regarding contesting or settling a claim, adhering to the terms specified in the indemnity agreement.

Right to Recover Losses and Damages

  • The indemnifier is entitled to recover any losses or damages that have been paid to the indemnified party under the terms of the indemnity agreement. If the indemnified party incurs losses within the indemnity's scope, the indemnifier can seek reimbursement for these losses and damages.
  • This right enables the indemnifier to claim back the expenses incurred while fulfilling their responsibilities outlined in the indemnity agreement.

Right to Demand Contribution

  • When multiple indemnifiers are involved, the indemnifier who compensates the indemnified party may request a contribution from the other indemnifiers. This right is relevant when several parties share the obligation of indemnifying the same loss or damage.
  • The indemnifier who has made the payment can ask for a proportionate contribution from other co-indemnifiers based on their respective responsibilities as per the indemnity agreement.

Right to Defend Legal Proceedings

  • The indemnifier possesses the right to defend against any legal actions stemming from the events or actions covered by the indemnity. This includes the option to represent themselves or appoint legal counsel to counter claims or lawsuits brought against the indemnified party.
  • They have the authority to take appropriate legal measures to safeguard their interests and meet their obligations as outlined in the indemnity agreement.

Right to Terminate the Indemnity Agreement

  • Under specific circumstances, the indemnifier may have the option to terminate the indemnity agreement. This could occur when the events or actions triggering the indemnity come to an end, or when both the indemnifier and the indemnified party mutually decide to end the agreement. 
  • Nevertheless, the right to terminate the indemnity agreement may be subject to certain conditions or restrictions agreed upon within the contract.

Limitations on Indemnity Rights

  • Limitations on the Scope of Indemnity
  • Limitations on the Timeframe for Indemnity Claims
  • Limitations on the Quantum of Indemnity

Limitations on the Scope of Indemnity

  • The extent of indemnity rights can be restricted to specific events or actions outlined in the indemnity agreement. If a loss or damage falls outside of this defined scope, it may not be covered by the indemnity.
  • For example, in a contract between two parties, Party A might agree to indemnify Party B for any financial losses resulting from a specified type of breach, such as a breach of confidentiality.

Limitations on the Timeframe for Indemnity Claims

  • An indemnity agreement can set a deadline for making indemnity claims. Failing to claim within this timeframe could result in losing the right to seek indemnity for incurred losses or damages.
  • For instance, if a contractor fails to notify their client within 30 days of discovering a contractual breach for which they seek indemnity, they might forfeit their indemnification rights.

Limitations on the Quantum of Indemnity

  • Indemnity agreements may impose restrictions on the amount or percentage of losses covered by the indemnifier. This could involve capping the indemnity at a specific sum or limiting liability to a certain percentage of the damages suffered by the indemnity holder.
  • For instance, a contract might stipulate that Party A's indemnity obligation is limited to 50% of the total damages incurred by Party B in a specific scenario.

Indemnity vs. Guarantee

  • Indemnity and guarantee are distinct concepts often used in contractual agreements to allocate risk between parties.
  • An indemnity involves one party (indemnifier) compensating the other party (indemnified) for specified losses, damages, or liabilities.
  • A guarantee, on the other hand, is a promise by one party to be responsible for the debt or obligations of another party if that party fails to fulfill them.
  • For example, in a loan agreement, a parent company might provide a guarantee to a lender for the debt incurred by its subsidiary if the subsidiary defaults on the loan.

[Intext Question]

The Difference between Indemnity and Guarantee

  • Basic Concept:
    • Indemnity and guarantee, though often used interchangeably, have distinct legal implications.
  • Nature of Obligation:
    • In indemnity, the indemnifier has a primary obligation to compensate for losses or damages already incurred.
    • Conversely, a guarantee involves a secondary obligation where the guarantor pays if the principal debtor fails to meet their obligations.
  • Triggering Event:
    • Indemnity is triggered by the occurrence of specified events or actions that lead to losses or damages.
    • On the other hand, a guarantee is activated when the principal debtor defaults.
  • Liability:
    • The indemnifier's liability arises directly from the events that cause losses or damages.
    • In contrast, the guarantor's liability arises from the principal debtor's failure to fulfill their obligations.

Rights and Liabilities of Indemnifier vs. Guarantor

  • Rights and Liabilities of Indemnifier:
    • The indemnifier can recover losses or damages already suffered by the indemnified party.
    • They have the right to defend legal actions on behalf of the indemnified party.
    • The indemnifier can demand contributions from co-indemnifiers in case of shared liability.
  • Rights and Liabilities of Guarantor:
    • A guarantor becomes liable only when the principal debtor fails to fulfill their obligation.
    • The guarantor's right is limited to seeking reimbursement from the principal debtor for the amount paid under the guarantee.

Relevant Provisions under Indian Law

Indian Contract Act, 1872

  • Indemnity, as defined in Section 124 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, refers to a promise made by one party to compensate another for any loss or damage caused by the promisor's actions or the actions of others.
  • According to Section 125, the indemnifier is obligated to indemnify the indemnity holder against all losses arising from specified events covered in the indemnity agreement.
  • Rights of the indemnifier under the Indian Contract Act include seeking reimbursement for losses, defending legal proceedings, and demanding contribution from co-indemnifiers.
  • Provisions in the Act also allow for setting limitations on the scope, timeframe, and amount of indemnity, as mutually agreed upon in the contract.

Indian Limitation Act, 1963

  • The Indian Limitation Act, 1963, plays a role in determining the timeframe within which the indemnifier can claim indemnity.
  • It establishes various limitation periods for different types of claims, emphasizing the importance of timely claims to protect the indemnifier's rights.

Important Cases

Gajanan Moreshwar Parelkar v. Moreshwar Madan Mantri (1942)

  • In this particular case, Gajanan Moreshwar Parelkar leased a piece of land from the Bombay Municipal Corporation for an extensive period of 999 years. He then transferred this lease to M. Madan for a shorter duration.
  • M. Madan, the transferee, initiated construction activities on the land and procured supplies from K.D. Mohan Das. Unfortunately, M. Madan could not settle the payment for the supplies and requested Parelkar to create a mortgage deed favoring K.D. Mohan Das.
  • G. Moreshwar, the plaintiff, consented to this arrangement, placing a charge on his belongings. They mutually decided on the interest rate and a deadline for the repayment of the principal amount and interest by M. Madan.
  • Despite agreeing to the terms, M. Madan failed to fulfill the repayment obligations, leading to a legal dispute. Consequently, G. Moreshwar took legal action against M. Madan for indemnity.
  • The court ruled that when an indemnity-holder incurs a definite liability, they have the right to seek indemnity from the indemnifier. Therefore, the plaintiff was indemnified by the defendant for all the liabilities related to the mortgage and subsequent charges.

The Secretary of State v. the Bank of India Limited (1938)

  • In this case, a broker issued a promissory note with a false endorsement. The bank, acting in good faith, applied for and obtained its renewal from the Public Debt Office.
  • Subsequently, the real owner of the promissory note sued the Secretary of State for conversion. In response, the Secretary of State sued the Bank of India Ltd. based on the concept of implied indemnity.
  • Referring to the case of Dugdale v. Lovering (1875), the court established a fundamental legal principle. It stated that when a person performs an action at the request of another, which is not inherently wrongful, and that action results in harm to a third party, the person executing the act is entitled to indemnity from the requesting party.

Question for Rights of Indemnifier in India
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What is the primary difference between indemnity and guarantee?
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  • The rights of an indemnifier in India are crucial legal provisions that ensure compensation and protection of the indemnifier's interests. This includes being reimbursed for any losses or damages suffered. Indemnifiers have the right to defend themselves in legal proceedings, safeguarding their interests and ensuring fair treatment under the law.
  • An indemnifier also has the right to demand contribution from co-indemnifiers, spreading the financial responsibility among multiple parties. In certain situations, an indemnifier can terminate the indemnity agreement, providing a legal mechanism to exit the arrangement under specified conditions.
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FAQs on Rights of Indemnifier in India - Civil Law for Judiciary Exams

1. What are the key provisions related to indemnity rights in contracts under the Indian Contract Act, 1872?
Ans. The key provisions related to indemnity rights in contracts under the Indian Contract Act, 1872 include Section 124 to Section 147.
2. What are the limitations on indemnity rights in India?
Ans. Limitations on indemnity rights in India include the requirement of the indemnifier to indemnify only for losses caused by the indemnified party's actions, and not for losses due to unforeseen circumstances.
3. How does the concept of indemnity differ from a guarantee in Indian law?
Ans. In India, indemnity involves a promise to compensate for any loss or damage, while a guarantee involves a promise to perform the obligations of a third party if they fail to do so.
4. What are the rights and liabilities of an indemnifier compared to a guarantor in India?
Ans. An indemnifier has the right to recover any losses suffered due to the indemnified party's actions, while a guarantor is liable to perform the obligations of the third party if they fail to do so.
5. Can you provide an example of a significant case related to indemnity rights in India?
Ans. One significant case related to indemnity rights in India is the case of Satyabrata Ghose vs. Mugneeram Bangur & Co., where the Supreme Court clarified various aspects of indemnity under Indian law.
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