Scope and authority of the agent
Scope and authority of the agent

The following Commercial guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Scope and authority of the agent
  • Brexit
  • Authority of agent
  • Types of authority
  • Limitations on agent’s authority
  • Contracts within authority
  • Contracts outside authority
  • Agency of necessity
  • Authority of partners in partnerships
  • Joint and several representation of authority
  • more

This Practice Note describes the nature and degree of an agent's authority which is conferred upon it by the principal, subject to some limitations. This Practice Note considers the different types of agent’s authority, including actual, apparent and customary authority. It also considers authority granted under a power of attorney. This Practice Note considers the impact of an agent acting outside of its authority, whether the actions of an agent acting outside of its authority are binding on the principal and what remedies are available to a principal when an agent acts outside of its authority.


Brexit: As of exit day (11 pm on 31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this Practice Note, including in connection with the application of the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations, SI 1993/3053. For further guidance, see: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources and Brexit toolkit.

Authority of agent

An agent's authority is conferred by its principal. The scope of authority granted to agents by principals in business matters is usually a combination of all or some of the following: to introduce, conclude, or otherwise deal