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23 25 usual authority usual authority can be

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2.5. Usual authorityUsual authority can be classified aseither actual authorityorapparentauthority.Dobson and Stokes took the view that ‘usual authority is primarilya sub-division of actual, implied authority and thus emanates from, andenlarges the scope of, the actual authority which exists in its own right as anindependent category of authority’. However, ‘difficulty is caused by a smallgroup of cases dating mainly from the nineteenth century, which do not fiteasily into the framework of actual and apparent authority’. The leading caseisWatteau v. Fenwick.2.6. RatificationUsually an agent receives the authority to act as an agent of the principalbefore he so acts. Conversely, the principal’s ratification creates a principleof volition subsequent to the agent’s action. Moreover,when a principalratifies an agent’s act, the ratification is effective from the date ofthe agent’s act rather than from the date of the ratification. Even so,five conditions need to be satisfied in order for ratification by the principal tobe effective:1.The agent must claim to be acting for the principal so the principalmust be named or be able to be identified, as an undisclosed principalcannot ratify an agent’s actions2.The principal must have had full capacity to make the contract at thetime of the agent’s act. In the landmark case ofBoston Deep SeaFishing and Ice Co Ltd v Farnham [1957] 1 WLR 1051the courtheld that ratification of an agent’s action by the principal was notpossible, because at the time of the agent’s action the principal was anenemy alien and therefore lacked the capacity to enter into such acontract3.At the time of ratification, the principal must either have known all ofthe material facts or have had every intention to ratify the action,irrespective of what the facts were4.A void contract cannot be ratified5.Ratification must also take place within a reasonable time of theagent’s agreement with the third party2.7. Agency of necessity24
Agency of necessity often arises when a person acts in an emergency, forexample to protect the property interests of another person. This will resultin the agent being authorised, even though there is no actual authority. InChina-Pacific SA v. Food Corporation of India (the Winson), LordDiplock discussed two different aspects of the law of agency of necessity:first, ‘where an agent enters into a contract with a third party onbehalf of the principal, consequently binding the principalcontractually to the third party’;andsecondly, ‘where a person actsfor another and subsequently seeks reimbursement or an indemnityfrom him’.Whereas under an agency of necessity, privity of contract arisesbetween the principal and third party, even where a person acts to preservethe property of a complete stranger, that person is unable to claim forreimbursement.

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