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    Thursday, 9 March 2017

    Principal for the tortuous acts of his agents

    Principal and agent
    An agent is a person employed to do any act for another or to represent another in dealing with third persons. The person for whom such act is done, or who is so represented is called principal. Section 182 of the Contract Act, 1872.

    Relationship of agency
    Agency is the legal relationship between one person, the agent having authority to act, and having consented to act, on behalf of another, the principal, particularly to place the principal in contractual relations with a third party. In relation with third parties the principal is bound by acts done by his agent within the scope of his express authority, or his general authority, or the authority he has represented the agent or enabled him to represent himself.

    Ratification by the principal
    A principal may, however, be liable for the tort committed by a person without his authority if he subsequently ratifies the act. But the principal will be liable only if the following two conditions are fulfilled:

    The wrongful act must have been done on behalf of the principal.

    The principal must know the nature of the act which has thus been done on his behalf, unless, indeed, he is content to dispense with any such knowledge and to approve and sanction the acts of agents whatever they may be.

    Course of employment
    The liability of the principal has been extended for .those acts of the agent which were done for the benefit of the principal. The word benefit is a vague term and it is better to adhere to the words 'course of employment' or 'scope of authority. It is a matter of indifference whether a person is styled servant or agent since it is the retention of control which makes a principal responsible.

    Just as the tort must be committed by a servant either under the actual control of his mater or while acting in the course of employment, the act of the agent will only make the principal liable if it is done within the scope of his authority. By process ratiocination the courts have made a slight distinction by attempting to find a right to control in case of simple agency.
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