Liability means that someone has to answer for damage caused. This may be based on a contractual obligation or on an act of non-contractual misconduct. Liability can be borne by natural persons but also by legal entities (e.g. association, public limited companies, and the state itself). The conditions for the establishment of liability depend on the respective legal basis.

In the case of the so-called liability for debt (Art. 41 et seq. CO), a third party suffers damage due to misconduct. The damage may have been caused intentionally or through negligence. A person is negligent if he or she fails to exercise the care that he or she is obliged to exercise under the circumstances, whereby a distinction is drawn between gross and simple (minor) negligence. Liability for fault can arise, for example, if a learner knocks over and damages a customer's letterbox with his wheelbarrow. In practice, depending on the circumstances, such damage is fully or partially covered by the employer's business liability insurance, provided that such insurance has been taken out.

For liability arising from a contract (Art. 97 et seq. CO), the breach of a contractual obligation is generally assumed to have resulted in specific damage. In the case of contractual liability, fault is presumed.

The learner's liability towards his own employer is primarily based on the provisions of labour legislation (Art. 321e para. 2 CO). In such cases, the extent of the duty of care owed by the worker or learner "is determined by the individual employment contract, taking due account of the occupational risk, level of training and technical knowledge associated with the work as well as the employee’s aptitudes and skills of which the employer was or should have been aware." Thus, the learner only has to bear liability for damage if he has failed to take the necessary care.

Private liability disputes are decided by the civil court or by the employment tribunal.