agent



agent defined in 1939 year

agent - Agent;
agent - In law, one who acts for and on behalf of another (the principal) in such a way as to make the principal legally liable for his acts and defaults.

As between principal and agent, the rights and liabilities depend on the agreement between them; but when an agent acts for his principal, the latter is bound by his acts if they are within "the scope of his authority." By this phrase is meant that an agent of a particular class is supposed to have authority to do those acts which such an agent usually has. Thus, if a commercial traveller accepts an order for goods at £2 a ton, or on the terms of three months' credit, his principal is bound by these terms, although the traveller may have been told not to accept orders at less than £3 a ton, and to give no credit. Partners are agents for the other partners in all ordinary matters relating to the business in which they are jointly engaged.

By the doctrine of ratification, if a person purports, without authority, to act for a principal, the principal may, on learning what has been done, ratify the agency, and take the benefit and assume the burden of what has been done in his name. If, however, he refuses to recognize it, the agent is personally liable, on what is called a "warranty of authority." A wife, living with her husband, is his agent to pledge his credit for household necessaries, including clothing for herself and the children suitable to her husband's station in life. The authority of an agent is revoked by the death or bankruptcy of the principal. It may also be expressly revoked at any time by the principal. And if an agent is engaged, say, for three years, and the principal revokes his authority at the end of one year, the revocation is good, though the agent may still have the right to bring an action for wrongful dismissal.

An agent is entitled, in the absence of express agreement, to the customary remuneration for his services, or, if there is no customary sum, to a reasonable amount. He must not accept remuneration from anybody but his principal, and may not make any other profit. If he does, he forfeits the right to remuneration. He is entitled to be reimbursed and indemnified for all acts done and expenditure incurred within the scope of the agency. He is liable for negligence in the conduct of his principal's business, and is bound to display all the skill and diligence necessary and usual in such agencies. Thus a solicitor must take the proper steps in an action at law; an accountant must be accurate in an audit; a stockbroker must know the prices on the Exchange. Agents on particular markets (e.g. brokers on the London Stock Exchange) can bind their principals according to the customs of those markets.

A servant is the agent of his master within "the scope of his employment," and the master will even be liable for his frauds. Thus, where a bank manager gave false information to a customer in answer to one of the usual inquiries, whereby the customer lost money, the bank had to pay, because it was part of the manager's business to answer such inquiries. The maxim, Qui facit per alium facit per se, i.e. who acts through another, acts himself, is always applied.

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