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Agency Law

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:20 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 48.9 
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The origins of the doctrine of necessitous intervention by someone who is in a legal relationship with the defendant lie in the principle of agency of necessity, where an agent went beyond his or her authority by intervening on behalf of the principal in an emergency. Because of the circumstances of necessity, particularly the impracticability of the agent communicating with the principal, the courts were prepared to treat the agent as though he or she had the necessary authority to do what was reasonably necessary to save the principal\'s property. If an agency of necessity was established, the agent would be reimbursed for the expense incurred in rescuing the principal\'s property.

The doctrine of agency of necessity was initially relevant only in respect of the carriage of goods by sea, where the master took action to save the ship or cargo in an emergency. It was then extended to those cases which concerned the carriage of goods by land. This is illustrated by The Great Northern Railway Co. v. Swaffield where the plaintiff railway company had transported a horse to a station on behalf of the defendant . When the horse arrived there was nobody to collect it, so the plaintiff sent it to a stable. A number of months later the plaintiff paid the stabling charges and then sought to recover what it had paid from the defendant. The plaintiff\'s claim succeeded even though this involved the extension of the doctrine of agency of necessity to include carriers of goods by land. There was an agency of necessity because the plaintiff was found to have had no choice but to arrange for the proper care of the horse.

The doctrine of agency of necessity was then extended beyond cases involving carriage of goods to other cases in which the plaintiff had been forced by an emergency to act beyond his or her existing authority. This extension of the principle was recognised in Prager v. Blatspiel, Stampand Heacock Ltd. and Heacock Ltd., although the element of...

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