UCL Seminar: Central Concepts in Agency Law

This one-day seminar programme on Central Concepts in Agency Law aims to develop an advanced understanding of some of the key concepts in the law of agency, a subject of vital practical importance which is rich in ideas and detail. It affords participants an opportunity to benefit from the insight of Professor Peter Watts QC, the General Editor of the leading text on the law of agency, Bowstead & Reynolds on Agency, now in its 21st edition. Peter has designed and will run the seminar, and there will also be contributions from members of the Faculty of Laws at UCL with expertise in commercial law.

The programme starts with the concept of agency itself: its definition, functions in private law, and its variants and relationships to other concepts. It then moves to consider in turn the two central concepts in contracting through agents, “actual authority” and “apparent authority”. Lesser known ways to bind owners of businesses and property to transactions are then introduced. Selected other aspects of agency law are integrated into the programme and relevant recent case-law will be fully covered, both on the day and in material provided to participants.

Topics include:

  • The nature of agency
    • Definition: what makes a person an agent of another?
    • A voluntary not imposed relationship?
    • The parasitic role of agency in private law: contract, tort, restitution and property law
    • The role of agency in company law, trusts law, and unincorporated associations
    • Dual agency
    • Types of agent, and contrasts with other concepts
  • Actual authority
    • How is it established?
    • Acquiescence and estoppel
    • Retrospectivity: ratification
    • Withdrawing actual authority
    • Usual authority
    • Formalities
    • Dishonesty and improper purpose
    • Duty to adhere to mandate
    • Authority to act illegally
  • Apparent authority
    • What can constitute a representation/holding out (including use of modern technologies)
    • Representation by the principal: can certain types of agent “self-authorise”?
    • Reasonable reliance, and being put on inquiry as to lack of authority
  • Constructive authority
    • Anomalous cases: Hambro v BurnandWatteau v Fenwick
    • Deeds as a method of authority-less contracting
    • Agents in possession of property and documents: mercantile agents
    • Vicarious liability for misstatement of authority by employees?
  • Remedies where agents take secret commissions

Click here to book a place.

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