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Agent

principal, authority, instructions, agents, duties, sell, authorized and duty

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AGENT (from the French Agent, and that from the Latin Agens). An agent is a person authorized by another to do acts or make engagements in his name ; and the person who so authorizes him is called the principal.

An agent cannot be appointed to bind ais principal by deed otherwise than by deed ; nor can an agent be appointed by a corporation aggregate (unless it be for certain ordinary and inferior purposes) otherwise than by deed : and for the pur pose of making leases and other acts spe cified in the first, second, and third sec tions of the Statute of Frauds, the authority of the agent must be in writing. In all other cases no particular form is neces sary: in commercial affairs agents are Usually commissioned by a letter of orders, or simply by a retainer ; but a verbal appointment is sufficient; and even the mere fact of one person's being em ployed to do any business whatever for another will create between the parties the relation of principal and agent.

An agent's authority (unless it is an authority coupled with an interest, such as a power of attorney as a se curity for a debt) may, in general, be revoked by the principal at any time. It also ceases upon his death or bankruptcy.

There are many kinds of agents, known by specific names, such as bailiffs, factors, brokers, &c. The particular rights, duties, and liabilities of each of these will be found under their respective heads. The object of this article is to state the general principles of law, which are applicable to all.

In the first place, we shall explain what are the rights and duties with re spect to one another, resulting from the relation of principal and agent; and, secondly, what are the rights and duties with respect to third persons, resulting from the relation of principal and agent.

I. First, of the relative rights and duties of principal and agent.

I. The first duty of an agent is to use faithfully, and in its full extent, the au thority which has been given him. An agent's authority is said to be limited when he is bound by precise instructions ; and unlimited, when he is not so bound. When his authority is limited, an agent is bound to adhere strictly to his in structions. Thus, if instructed to sell, he has no right to barter; nor if instructed to sell at a certain price, is be authorized to take less.

When the agent's authority is not limited by precise instructions, his duty is to act in conformity with what may reasonably be presumed to be the inten tions of his employer; and in the absence of all other means of ascertaining what these intentions are, he is to act for the interest of his principal, according to the discretion which may be expected from a prudent man in the management of his own business. Thus, if he is authorized

to sell, and no price is limited by his instructions, he must endeavour to obtain the best price for the goods. If therd have been other transactions of the same nature between the parties, it is to be presumed that the principal intends that the same mode of dealing should be pur sued, which, in former cases, he had either prescribed or approved.

In mercantile transactions it is a rule of universal application, that, in the absence of other instructions, the principal must be presumed to intend that his agent should follow the common usage of the particular business in which he is em ployed. This, therefore, is the course which it is the agent's duty to pursue ; and he will, in all cases, be justified in so doing, even though, under the particular circumstances, he might have acted other wise to the greater advantage of his prin cipal. Thus a factor ought to sell for ready money, but if he is employed in a dealing or trade where the usage is to sell upon credit, he will be authorized in selling to a person of good credit, and giving such time as is reasonable and customary.

An authority is always to be so con strued as to include all necessary or usual means of executing it with effect. An agent is, therefore, authorized to do all such subordinate acts as are either re quisite by law, in order to the due per formance of the principal objects of the instructions, or are necessary to effect it in the best and most convenient manner, or are usually incidental to it in the ordi nary course of business. Thus it is the duty of an agent employed in the receipt or dispatch of "goods to take care that the custom-house duties are paid, and the proper entries made ; and be will be au thorized in making any advances, as well for such incidental charges as warehouse room, as for any other expense necessarily incurred for the preservation of the pro 2. The The next duty of an agent is to ex ercise proper diligence and skill. He is required to use, in the concerns of his employer, the same diligence and care which would be expected from a prudent man in the management of his own busi ness; and he is bound, without any par ticular instructions, to take every pre caution ordinarily used for the safety and improvement of property intrusted to iJ AGENT.

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