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Capacity of Parties

As a general proposition every person who is sui juris may appoint an agent for any purpose.  The general rule is that if acting in one’s own right and in one’s own behalf, the person may lawfully delegate to an agent.  However, by the express terms or necessary effect of the act, an authority which is conferred, or a duty which is created by statute may be required to be performed by the person only who is named as to demand a personal execution.  There should be an express enactment or necessary implication, which limits the common law right of any person who is sui juris to appoint an agent to act on one’s behalf[i].  The principal may be either a natural person or an artificial one[ii].

If a person is appointed a general agent, the principal is bound by his/her acts.  However, an agent constituted for a particular purpose and under a limited and circumscribed power cannot bind the principal by any act in which s/he exceeds his/her authority[iii].

When one knowingly and without dissent permits another to act as his/her agent, the capacity will be conclusively presumed.  The agent’s capacity to have rights or be subject to duties and liabilities is not necessary.  Moreover, the resulting relations between the principal and third persons are not affected by the fact that the agent would be incapable of affecting his/her own legal relations by the performance of an act done on his/her own account similar to that done for the principal[iv].

[i] State ex rel. Hansen v. Schall, 126 Conn. 536 (Conn. 1940)

[ii] Taylor v. Davis’ Adm’x, 110 U.S. 330 (U.S. 1884)

[iii] Kramer v. Blair, 88 Va. 456 (Va. 1891)

[iv]Cason v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 91 Ga. App. 323 (Ga. Ct. App. 1954)

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