If the law assumes that then the law is an ass. Or so said Mr Bumble. He was talking about the law's assumption that, as a married man, he was responsible for the actions of his wife – “that his wife acted under his direction”.
Similarly stupid assumptions have now been made on other areas of the law, only with much greater financial consequences. Solicitors and barristers can now be sued if they lose a case.
And foreigners with a grudge, legitimate or otherwise, against a UK company can now sue in the UK courts rather than at home, where damages would be lower.
To be fair, there is a logic in both these rulings. Without them, innocent victims of negligence, incompetence or simple errors could have been denied access to proper justice and compensation. But sometimes the consequences of legal judgments seem ill-thought out.
When the spectre of higher payments for bodily injury damages was first raised, the Association of British Insurers didn't so much fight to keep the figures down as explain how the cost would be passed on. Paying more to victims was a nice idea, the ABI explained, but each and every insurance buyer would have to accept higher premiums as a result.
Mixed sympathies apply to the two recent rulings. That lawyers should be sued has a poetic (justice) ring to it. And victims of one company being treated differently in different companies smacks of double standards, so bringing them all under the parent company's national jurisdiction makes sense.
But the cost will be huge. As lawyers and multinationals face up to increasing litigation, they will face larger and larger insurance premiums. And those costs will be passed on to consumers.
Worse still, it could be insurers who get the blame when consumers pay these higher prices.