Liability of Principal and Agent; Termination of Agency
è Simply stated, the agent acts for the principal as if it were the principal acting Also, the CPA would be liable to 3rd parties relying on the CPA's work (but . the position the agent occupies (you would expect a vice president to be able to act. LIABILITY FOR ACTS OF AGENTS. Cashiers, salespeople, maintenance workers, and managers are a few of the agents that we see Agency is the legal relationship that exists where one person (an agent) is authorized to act or Except in the very smallest of businesses, a business owner must rely, to some extent. Principal's Contract Liability Requires That Agent Had Authority For example, the owner of a hotel appoints Andy manager; Andy decides to rename the hotel.
Liability[ edit ] Liability of agent to third party[ edit ] If the agent has actual or apparent authority, the agent will not be liable for acts performed within the scope of such authority, as long as the relationship of the agency and the identity of the principal have been disclosed. When the agency is undisclosed or partially disclosed, however, both the agent and the principal are liable.
Where the principal is not bound because the agent has no actual or apparent authority, the purported agent is liable to the third party for breach of the implied warranty of. Liability of agent to principal[ edit ] If the agent has acted without actual authority, but the principal is nevertheless bound because the agent had apparent authority, the agent is liable to indemnify the principal for any resulting loss or damage.
Liability of principal to agent[ edit ] If the agent has acted within the scope of the actual authority given, the principal must indemnify the agent for payments made during the course of the relationship whether the expenditure was expressly authorized or merely necessary in promoting the principal's business. An agent owes the principal a number of duties. An agent can represent the interests of more than one principal, conflicting or potentially conflicting, only after full disclosure and consent of the principal.
An agent must not usurp an opportunity from the principal by taking it for himself or passing it on to a third party. In return, the principal must make a full disclosure of all information relevant to the transactions that the agent is authorized to negotiate. Termination[ edit ] Mutual agreement also through the principal responding his authority.
Through renouncing when agent hm self stop being an agent. The internal agency relationship may be dissolved by agreement. Under sections to of the Indian Contract Actan agency may come to an end in a variety of ways: Withdrawal by the agent — however, the principal cannot revoke an agency coupled with interest to the prejudice of such interest. An agency is coupled with interest when the agent himself has an interest in the subject-matter of the agency, e. Alternatively, agency may be terminated by operation of law: If he does, he is liable to compensate the agent for the loss caused to him thereby.
The same rules apply where the agent, renounces an agency for a fixed period. Notice in this connection that want of skill, continuous disobedience of lawful orders, and rude or insulting behavior has been held to be sufficient cause for dismissal of an agent. Further, reasonable notice has to be given by one party to the other; otherwise, damage resulting from want of such notice, will have to be paid s.
The termination does not take effect as regards the agent, till it becomes known to him and as regards third party, till the termination is known to them s. Some states opt for the partnership as no more than an aggregate of the natural persons who have joined the firm. Others treat the partnership as a business entity and, like a corporationvest the partnership with a separate legal personality.
Hence, for example, in English lawa partner is the agent of the other partners whereas, in Scots law where there is a separate personality, a partner is the agent of the partnership.
This form of agency is inherent in the status of a partner and does not arise out of a contract of agency with a principal. The English Partnership Act provides that a partner who acts within the scope of his actual authority express or implied will bind the partnership when he does anything in the ordinary course of carrying on partnership business. Even if that implied authority has been revoked or limited, the partner will have apparent authority unless the third party knows that the authority has been compromised.
Hence, if the partnership wishes to limit any partner's authority, it must give express notice of the limitation to the world. However, there would be little substantive difference if English law was amended: For these purposes, the knowledge of the partner acting will be imputed to the other partners or the firm if a separate personality.
The other partners or the firm are the principal and third parties are entitled to assume that the principal has been informed of all relevant information. This causes problems when one partner acts fraudulently or negligently and causes loss to clients of the firm.
In most states, a distinction is drawn between knowledge of the firm's general business activities and the confidential affairs as they affect one client. Thus, there is no imputation if the partner is acting against the interests of the firm as a fraud. There is more likely to be liability in tort if the partnership benefited by receiving fee income for the work negligently performed, even if only as an aspect of the standard provisions of vicarious liability.
Note that ratification does not require the usual consideration of contract law. The principal need be promised nothing extra for his decision to affirm to be binding on him. Such authority is express, implied, or apparent. Express means made in words, orally or in writing; implied means the agent has authority to perform acts incidental to or reasonably necessary to carrying out the transaction for which she has express authority. Apparent authority arises where the principal gives the third party reason to believe that the agent had authority.
Even if the agent has no authority, the principal may, after the fact, ratify the contract made by the agent. Exercises Could express authority be established by silence on the part of the principal? Why is the concept of implied authority very important in business situations? Recognize the difference between agents whose tort and criminal liability may be imputed to the employer and those whose liability will not be so imputed. Know when the principal will be vicariously liable for intentional torts committed by the agent.
Name special cases of vicarious liability.
Who is liable, me or the business? Agency liability issues your business should know:
Direct Liability There is a distinction between torts prompted by the principal himself and torts of which the principal was innocent. This is an application of the general common-law principle that one cannot escape liability by delegating an unlawful act to another. The syndicate that hires a hitman is as culpable of murder as the man who pulls the trigger. Similarly, a principal who is negligent in his use of agents will be held liable for their negligence.
This rule comes into play when the principal fails to supervise employees adequately, gives faulty directions, or hires incompetent or unsuitable people for a particular job. This is the principle of respondeat superior The Latin term for the master-servant doctrine. A million-dollar industrial accident is within the means of a company or its insurer; it is usually not within the means of the agent—employee—who caused it. For many small businesses, in fact, the principle of respondeat superior is one of life or death.
The Larraburus had no choice but to cease operations. Respondeat superior raises three difficult questions: We will consider these questions in turn.
Agents for Whom Principals Are Vicariously Liable In general, the broadest liability is imposed on the master in the case of tortious physical conduct by a servant, as discussed in Chapter 11 "Relationships between Principal and Agent".
Vicarious tort liability is primarily a function of the employment relationship and not agency status. Ordinarily, an individual or a company is not vicariously liable for the tortious acts of independent contractors.
But there are exceptions to the rule.
Law of agency
Generally, these exceptions fall into a category of duties that the law deems nondelegable. In some situations, one person is obligated to provide protection to or care for another. Thus a homeowner has a duty to ensure that physical conditions in and around the home are not unreasonably dangerous.
If the owner hires an independent contracting firm to dig a sewer line and the contractor negligently fails to guard passersby against the danger of falling into an open trench, the homeowner is liable because the duty of care in this instance cannot be delegated.
The contractor is, of course, liable to the homeowner for any damages paid to an injured passerby. The thought was that one could never infer authority to commit a willfully wrongful act. See the very disturbing Lyon v. Carey in Section But a principal cannot be responsible for every act of an agent.
If an employee is following the letter of his instructions, it will be easy to determine liability. But suppose an agent deviates in some way from his job. The classic test of liability was set forth in an English case, Joel v. The plaintiff was run over on a highway by a speeding cart and horse. The driver was the employee of another, and inside was a fellow employee. There was no question that the driver had acted carelessly, but what he and his fellow employee were doing on the road where the plaintiff was injured was disputed.
For weeks before and after the accident, the cart had never been driven in the vicinity in which the plaintiff was walking, nor did it have any business there. The suggestion was that the employees might have gone out of their way for their own purposes. The test is thus one of degree, and it is not always easy to decide when a detour has become so great as to be transformed into a frolic.
For a time, a rather mechanical rule was invoked to aid in making the decision. This test is not always easy to apply. If a hungry deliveryman stops at a restaurant outside the normal lunch hour, intending to continue to his next delivery after eating, he is within the scope of employment.
But suppose he decides to take the truck home that evening, in violation of rules, in order to get an early start the next morning. Suppose he decides to stop by the beach, which is far away from his route.
Does it make a difference if the employer knows that his deliverymen do this? That is, the employer is within the zone of risk if the servant is in the place within which, if the master were to send out a search party to find a missing employee, it would be reasonable to look. See Section 4, Cockrell v. Special Cases of Vicarious Liability Vicarious liability is not limited to harm caused in the course of an agency relationship.
It may also be imposed in other areas, including torts of family members, and other torts governed by statute or regulation. We will examine each in turn.
Use of Automobiles A problem commonly arises when an automobile owner lends his vehicle to a personal friend, someone who is not an agent, and the borrower injures a third person.
Is the owner liable? In many states, the owner is not liable; in other states, however, two approaches impose liability on the owner. The first approach is legislative: The second approach to placing liability on the owner is judicial and known as the family purpose doctrine A doctrine under which an owner of an automobile is liable for damages to others incurred while members of his family are driving the vehicle, under the theory that the vehicle is owned for family purposes.
Under this doctrine, a family member who negligently injures someone with the car subjects the owner to liability if the family member was furthering family purposes. These are loosely defined to include virtually every use to which a child, for example, might put a car. In a Georgia case, Dixon v. Phillips, the father allowed his minor son to drive the car but expressly forbade him from letting anyone else do so.
Nevertheless, the son gave the wheel to a friend and a collision occurred while both were in the car.
Agency Law | Legal Centre for Business & Technology | University of Calgary
The court held the father liable because he made the car available for the pleasure and convenience of his son and other family members. Torts of Family Members At common law, the husband was liable for the torts of his wife, not because she was considered an agent but because she was considered to be an extension of him.
Holmes, Agency, 4 Harvard Law Rev. However, they can be held liable for failing to control children known to be dangerous. Most states have statutorily changed the common-law rule, making parents responsible for willful or malicious tortious acts of their children whether or not they are known to be mischief-makers. Thus the Illinois Parental Responsibility Law provides the following: Several other states impose a monetary limit on such liability.
Other Torts Governed by Statute or Regulation There are certain types of conduct that statutes or regulation attempt to control by placing the burden of liability on those presumably in a position to prevent the unwanted conduct.
Another example involves the sale of adulterated or short-weight foodstuffs: A principal will, however, be liable if the principal directed, approved, or participated in the crime. There is a narrow exception to the broad policy of immunity. These include pure food and drug acts, speeding ordinances, building regulations, child labor rules, and minimum wage and maximum hour legislation.
Misdemeanor criminal liability may be imposed upon corporations and individual employees for the sale or shipment of adulterated food in interstate commerce, notwithstanding the fact that the defendant may have had no actual knowledge that the food was adulterated at the time the sale or shipment was made. This is the master-servant doctrine or respondeat superior. It imposes vicarious liability on the employer: Special cases of vicarious liability arise in several circumstances.
For example, the owner of an automobile may be liable for torts committed by one who borrows it, or if it is—even if indirectly—used for family purposes.
Similarly by statute, the sellers and employers of sellers of alcohol or adulterated or short-weight foodstuffs may be liable. The employer of one who commits a crime is not usually liable unless the employer put the employee up to the crime or knew that a crime was being committed. Exercises What is the difference between direct and vicarious employer tort liability? Under what circumstances will an employer be liable for intentional torts of the employee?
Recognize the ways the agency relationship is terminated. A person is always liable for his or her own torts unless the person is insane, involuntarily intoxicated, or acting under extreme duress. The agent is personally liable for his wrongful acts and must reimburse the principal for any damages the principal was forced to pay, as long as the principal did not authorize the wrongful conduct.
The agent directed to commit a tort remains liable for his own conduct but is not obliged to repay the principal. Liability as an agent can be burdensome, sometimes perhaps more burdensome than as a principal. In the absence of insurance, an agent is at serious risk in this lawsuit-conscious age.
The risk is not total. The agent is not liable for torts of other agents unless he is personally at fault—for example, by negligently supervising a junior or by giving faulty instructions. For example, an agent, the general manager for a principal, hires Brown as a subordinate.
Brown is competent to do the job but by failing to exercise proper control over a machine negligently injures Ted, a visitor to the premises. The principal and Brown are liable to Ted, but the agent is not. Contract Liability It makes sense that an agent should be liable for her own torts; it would be a bad social policy indeed if a person could escape tort liability based on her own fault merely because she acted in an agency capacity.
No public policy would be served by imposing liability, and in many cases it would not make sense. The agent personally could not reasonably perform such contract, and it is not intended by the parties that she should be liable. Although the rule is different in England, where an agent residing outside the country is liable even if it is clear that he is signing in an agency capacity.
But there are three exceptions to this rule: We consider each situation. Agent for Undisclosed or Partially Disclosed Principal An agent need not, and frequently will not, inform the person with whom he is negotiating that he is acting on behalf of a principal.
A real estate developer known for building amusement parks wants to acquire several parcels of land to construct a new park. He wants to keep his identity secret to hold down the land cost. If the landowners realized that a major building project was about to be launched, their asking price would be quite high.
So the developer obtains two options to purchase land by using two secret agents—Betty and Clem. Betty does not mention to sellers that she is an agent; therefore, to those sellers the developer is an undisclosed principal. Thus the developer is, to the latter sellers, a partially disclosed principal. Suppose the sellers get wind of the impending construction and want to back out of the deal.
Who may enforce the contracts against them? The developer and the agents may sue to compel transfer of title. The undisclosed or partially disclosed principal may act to enforce his rights unless the contract specifically prohibits it or there is a representation that the signatories are not signing for an undisclosed principal. Now suppose the developer attempts to call off the deal.
Whom may the sellers sue? Both the developer and the agents are liable. If the sellers first sue agent Betty or Clemthey may still recover the purchase price from the developer as long as they had no knowledge of his identity prior to winning the first lawsuit. The developer is discharged from liability if, knowing his identity, the plaintiffs persist in a suit against the agents and recover a judgment against them anyway.
Similarly, if the seller sues the principal and recovers a judgment, the agents are relieved of liability. Lack of Authority in Agent An agent who purports to make a contract on behalf of a principal, but who in fact has no authority to do so, is liable to the other party. The theory is that the agent has warranted to the third party that he has the requisite authority. The principal is not liable in the absence of apparent authority or ratification.
But the agent does not warrant that the principal has capacity. Thus an agent for a minor is not liable on a contract that the minor later disavows unless the agent expressly warranted that the principal had attained his majority. In short, the implied warranty is that the agent has authority to make a deal, not that the principal will necessarily comply with the contract once the deal is made.
Generally, a person signing a contract can avoid personal liability only by showing that he was in fact signing as an agent. This can be troublesome to agents who routinely indorse checks and notes. There are special rules governing these situations. Termination of Agency The agency relationship is not permanent.
Either by action of the parties or by law, the relationship will eventually terminate. By Act of the Parties Certainly the parties to an agency contract can terminate the agreement. As with the creation of the relationship, the agreement may be terminated either expressly or implicitly.
Express Termination Many agreements contain specified circumstances whose occurrence signals the end of the agency.
Mutual consent between the parties will end the agency. Even a contract that states the agreement is irrevocable will not be binding, although it can be the basis for a damage suit against the one who breached the agreement by revoking or renouncing it.
As with any contract, a person has the power to breach, even in absence of the right to do so. If the agency is coupled with an interest, however, so that the authority to act is given to secure an interest that the agent has in the subject matter of the agency, then the principal lacks the power to revoke the agreement.
Implied Termination There are a number of other circumstances that will spell the end of the relationship by implication. Unspecified events or changes in business conditions or the value of the subject matter of the agency might lead to a reasonable inference that the agency should be terminated or suspended; for example, the principal desires the agent to buy silver but the silver market unexpectedly rises and silver doubles in price overnight.
Other circumstances that end the agency include disloyalty of the agent e. By Operation of Law Aside from the express termination by agreement of both or upon the insistence of oneor the necessary or reasonable inferences that can be drawn from their agreements, the law voids agencies under certain circumstances.
The most frequent termination by operation of law is the death of a principal or an agent. The death of an agent also terminates the authority of subagents he has appointed, unless the principal has expressly consented to the continuing validity of their appointment.
Similarly, if the agent or principal loses capacity to enter into an agency relationship, it is suspended or terminated. The agency terminates if its purpose becomes illegal. Even though authority has terminated, whether by action of the parties or operation of law, the principal may still be subject to liability.
It is imperative for a principal on termination of authority to notify all those who may still be in a position to deal with the agent.