An agent is one who has
express (oral or written) or implied authority to act for another (the
principal) so as to bring the principal into contractual relationships with
other parties. He is under the control (is obligated to) the principal, and
(when acting within the scope of authority delegated by the principal) binds
the principal with his acts.

Agents are best described
as conduit pipes in a commercial transaction between a principal and the third
party. Simply put, he is the ultimate middle man who ensures that interaction
between two or more parties equals an exchange in goods, services or something
of value.

As middleman he never acts
on his own accord, as he does what the principal requires of him or what the
principal would have reasonably done in that transaction. By law, his acts are
binding on the principal. Therefore, it is as though the principal himself was
the one performing the act. Some might think of him as a hired body double, as
seen in the movies.

The legal maxim is qui
facit per alium facit per se, which means, he who acts by another act by
himself.  In the case of Bevan v. Webb, Stirling J stated
that “whatever a man sui juris may do by himself he may do by another”.

The principal refers to
the person on whose behalf another (the agent) acts. While the third party, is
the other person in the transaction who is bound by it.

For a person to be called
an agent in law, he must possess certain characteristics, such as:

He must have the power to act.
He must act for and on behalf of the
The consequence of such act must be to bind
the principal and the third party.

The importance of an agent
can be examined in a real estate transaction. In this instance, a land owner
employs the services of an agent who helps in getting a tenant or a buyer to
occupy the premises. This tenant or buyer as the case may be is the third party
in the transaction. Once the transaction has being concluded the agent steps
out of the transaction because legal relation has being created between the
land owner and the tenant. Talent-Agency relationships in the entertainment
industry are also shining examples of agency in commercial transactions.
Furthermore, agency relations can also be initiated between professionals and
the clients they represent.

It is pertinent to note
that an agent has rights and duties which he is entitled to and bound by. In
respect of the former, his rights include the right to indemnity, lien and
remuneration, while the latter includes the performance of undertaking,
obedience, care and skill, non-delegation and good faith.

From the foregoing, it is
safe to conclude that the role agents play in transactions ensures that the
wheels of commerce keeps grinding for the benefits of principals and third
parties. In a fast-paced world agents are absolutely necessary.

Ed’s Note – This article
was originally posted here