« ForrigeFortsett »
if the agent even buys in his own name, but for the benefit of his principal, and without disclosing his name, the
without any distinction, whether they describe themselves as agents or not. The legal presumption is, that the credit is given to the agent exclusively The supreme court of New-York, in Kirkpatrick v. Stainer, adhered bowever to the old rule, and held that the agent was not personally responsible when he appeared in the transaction as an agent only, and dealt with the plaintiff in that known character. The court held, that there was no distinction known to our law ou this point, between an agent acting for a foreign and for a domestic house. This decision was affirmed in the court of errors, in December, 1839, 22 WendeWs R. 244. Mr. Senator Verplanck gave the opinion of the court of errors, and he examined the question with learning and ability. He held that there was no general presumption known to our law and commercial usages, that the credit in such cases was given exclusively to the agent, and that the English cases on which the presumption as a settled rule of law was deduced in the treatise referred to, were of recent origin, and founded on special or local usage in England and one not adopted here. He cited Eyre, Ch. J., in De GaiUon v. L'Aigle, 1 B. <j- Puller, 368. Bayley, J., in Patterson v. Grandessequi, 15 East, 70. Lord Tenterden, in Thompson v. Davenport, 9 B. dV Cress. 78. Lloyd's Notes to Paley on Agency. He questioned the policy of the rule that credit on sales or consignments was not presumed to be given to well established foreign houses, but to temporary agents in exoneration of their principals; and that until the course of business had established such a rule here us well known in mercantile usage and practice, it was wisest to adhere to the general law of agency, holding the known principal responsible when the agent discloses his name and acts avowedly and authorizedly on his behalf, and leaving it to the discretion of the American trader to obtain the security of the factor or agent, when he judges it best. In Taintor v. Prendergrast, 3 Hill, 72, it was admitted, that there may be a clear intent shown to give an exclusive credit to the agent, and that if the principal reside in a foreign country, that intent may be inferred from the custom of trade. The supreme court of Louisiana, in the Neweastle M. C. v. Red River R. R. Co., 1 Rob. Lou. R. 145, followed the rule laid down by Mr. Justice Story, and it was also followed in McKenzie v. Nevins, 22 Maine R. 138. In the opinion of Mr. Justice Bliss, in the case of Hardy v. Fairbanks, in the supreme court of Nova Scotia, at Halifax, in April, 1847, this question arose and was discussed, and the conclusion of the learned judge seemed to be, that the home principal when discovered will be liable in all cases unleas he can discharge himself, but that a clear case of liability must be established against the foreigner, for the presumption will be in his favour that he is not liable, and the onus of proof will rest with the seller. The agent may be deemed always responsible for the protection of the seller, and the lia
principal is also bound as well as the agent, provided the goods come to his use, or the agent acted in the business intrusted to him, and according to his power.* The attorney who executes a power, as by giving a deed, must do it in the name of his principal; for if he executes it in his own name, though he describes himself to be agent or attorney of his principal, the deed is held to be void; and the attorney is not bound, even though he had no authority to exceute the deed, when it appears on the face of it to be the deed of the principal.b But if the agent binds himself personally, and engages expressly in his own name, he will be held responsible, though he should,
bility of the foreign principal becomes a question of evidence and presumption, and as to the remedy of the foroign principal and of the vendor against each other, that must be a question of evidence and the case which they can generally establish.
* Nelson v. Powell, 3 Doug. Rep. 410. Upton v. Gray, 2 Greenleaf's Rep. 373. Thompson v. Davenport, 9 Barn. Cress. 78. Cothay v. Fen nell, 10 Ibid. 671. Beebee v. Robert, 12 Wendell's Rep. 413. By acting in his own name, the agent only adds his personal obligation to that of the person who employs him. This was a principle in the Roman law, and it applies equally to our own. Dig. 14.3. 3. 17. Pothier, Traite des Oblig. No. 82. Hopkins v. Lacouture, 4 Miller's Louis. Rep. 64. Hyde v. Wolf, Ibid. 234. In Andrews v. Estes, 2 Fairfield, 267, it was held that the rule in Combe's case, that an agent binds himself, and not his principal, unless he uses the name of his principal, applies only to sealed instruments. In other contracts it is sufficient if it appear in the contract that he acted as agent, and meant to bind his principal. Evans v. Wells, 22 Wendell's Rep. 324, S. P.
1 Combes' case, 9 Co. 76. Frontin v. Small, 2 Ld. Raym. 1418. Wilks v. Back, 2 East's Rep. 142. Gwillim's Bacon's Abr. tit. Leases, 1. sec. 10. Bogart v. De Hussy, 6 Johns. Rep. 94. Fowler v. Shearer, 7 Mass. Rep. 14. 19. Stinchfield v. Little, 1 Greenleaf's Rep. 231. Hopkins v. Mehatty, 11 Serg. d> Rawle, 126. Smith v. Perry, 1 Harr. $ M'Hen. Rep. 706. Harper v. Hampton, 1 Harr. 4} Johns. Rep. 622. Townsend v. Corning, 23 Wendell, 435. In the American Jurist, No. 5. 71—85, there is a very critical examination of all the cases, and especially of Combe's case, the great leading case for the doctrine in the text, by Mr. Hoffman, of Baltimore, the learned author of the Legal Outlines. But in the state of Maine, by act of 1823, a deed by an agent in his own name is valid, provided he had authority, and it appears n the face of the deed that he meant to execute the authority.
in the contract or covenant, give himself the description or character of agent.* And though the attorney, who acts without authority, but in the name of the principal, be not personally bound by the instrument he executes, if it contain no covenant or promise on his part, *632 yet there is a remedy *against him by[a special action upon the case, for assuming to act when he had no power.b If, however, the authority of the agent be coupled with an interest in the property itself, he may contract and sell in his own name. This is illustrated in various instances, as in the cases of factors, masters of ships and mortgagees.0 The case of the master of a ship. is an exception to the general rule, and though he contracts within the ordinary scope of his powers,' he is, in general, personally responsible, as well as the owner, upon all contracts made by him for the employment, repairs and supplies of the ship. This is the rule of the maritime law, and it was taken from the Roman law, and is founded on commercial policy."1 But it is of course competent for the parties to agree to confine the exclusive credit, either to the owner, or to the master, as the case may be.e
When goods have been sold by the factor, the owner
* Appleton v. Binks, 5 East's Rep. 148. Forster v. Fuller, 6 Mass. Rep. 58. Duvall v. Craig, 2 Wheat. Rep. 56. Tippets v. Walker, 4 Mass. Rep. 595. White v. Sinner, 12 Johns. Rep. 307. Stone v. Wood, 7 Cowen's Rep. 453. Fash v. Ross, 2 Hill's S. C. Rep. 294.
b Long v. Colburn, 11 Mass. Rep. 97. Harper v. Little, 2 Greenlee/ '» Rep. 14. Delins v. Cawthorn, 2 Der. N. C Rep. 90. Emerigon, Traite des Contrats a la Grosse, tom. ii. p. 458. 461. 468, lays down the rale, and applies it to the captain of a ship, who, he says, is personally answerable, if he draws a bill in his character of agent, without anthority.
'Paley on Agency, by Lloyd, 207, 208.288, 289. Story on Agency, 2d edit. sec. 164.
a Rich v. Coe, Cowper's Rep. 636. 639. Farmer v. Davis, 1 Term, 109. Abbott on Shipping, part 2. ch. 2 and 3. Emerigon, tit. 2. 448. Dig. 14. 1. Story on Agency, 2d edit. sec. 294. 296. See in fra, vol. 3.
• Story on Agency, 2d edit. sec. 296.
is entitled to call upon the buyer for payment before the money is paid over to the factor; and a payment, to the factor, after notice from the owner not to pay, would be a payment by the buyer in his own wrong, and it would not prejudice the rights of the principal.11 If, however, the factor should sell in his own name as owner, and not disclose his principal, and act ostensibly as the real and sole owner, the principal may nevertheless afterwards bring his action upon the contract against the purchaser, but the latter, if he bona fide dealt with the factor as owner, will be entitled to set off any claim he may have against the factor, in answer to the demand of the principal.1" When the party dealing with an agent, and with knowledge of the agency, elects to make the agent his debtor, he cannot afterwards have recourse against the principaLc
There is a distinction in the books between public and private agents, on the point of personal responsibility. If an agent, on behalf of government, makes a contract, and describes himself as such, he is not personally bound, even though the terms of the contract be such as might, in a case of a private nature, involve him in a personal obligation^ The reason of the distinction is, that *it is not to be presumed that a public agent meant *633 to bind himself individually for the government; and
* Lisset v. Reeve, 2 Alk. Rep. 394.
b Rabone v. Williams, cited in 7 Term Rep. 360, note. George v. Claggett, Ibid. 359. Gordon v. Church, 2 Caines " Rep. 299. Hogan v. Shorb, 24 Wendell, 458. Taintor v. Prendergast, 3 Hill, 72. Chambre, J., in 3 Bos. $ Pull. 490. Seignior & Wolmer's case, Godb. 360. Story on Agency, 2d ed. sec. 420, 421.
» Patterson v. Gandasequi, 15 East's Rep. 62. Addison v. Gandasequi, 4 Taunt. Rep. 574.
J Macbeath v. Haldimand, 1 Term Rep. 172. Unwin v. Wolseley, Ibid. 674. Gidley v. Lord Palmereton, 3 Brod. $ Bing. 572. Brown v. Austin, 1 Mass. Rep. 208. Dawes v. Jackson, 9 Mass. Rep. 490. Hodgson v. Dexter, 1 Cranch's Rep. 345. Walker v. Swartwout, 12 Johns. Rep. 444. Rathbone v. Bublong, 15 Ibid. 1. Adams v. Whittlesey, 3 Conn. Rep. 560. Stinchfield v. Little, 1 Grcenleaf's Rep. 231. Enloe v. Hall, 1 Humphrey's Tenn. Rep. 303.
the party who deals with him in that character is justly supposed to rely upon the good faith and undoubted ability of the government. But the agent in behalf of the public may still bind himself by an express engagement. and the distinction terminates in a question of evidence. The inquiry in all the cases is, to whom was the credit, in the contemplation of the parties, intended to be given. This is the general inference to be drawn from all the cases, and it is expressly declared in some of them.*
» 12 Johns. Rep. 385. 15 Ibid. 1. Opinions of the Attorneys General, vol. 2. 962. A public agent, as, for instance, a commissioner for paring streets, or the superintendent of repairs on the canals, is personally responsible in damages for misfeasance and excess of authority, through the negligence of workmen under him. Leader v. Moxton, 3 Wilson, 461. Hall v. Smith, 2 Bing. 156. Shepherd v. Lincoln, 17 Wendell, 250. So, money obtained by a public officer illegally, may be recovered back by a suit against him personally. Story on Agency, 2d ed. sec. 307, and the cases there cited. The general principle is, that an agent is liable to third persons for acts of misfeasance and positive wrong, but for mere misfeasances and negligences in the course of his employment, be is answerable only to his principal, and the principal is answerable over to the third party. Agents and attorneys using reasonable skill and ordinary diligence in the exercise of their agency are not responsible for injuries arising from mistakes in a doubtful point of law. Mechanies Bank v. Merchants Bank, 6 Metcalf, 13. S. P. 4 Burr. 2060. Clarke 4> Finelly's R. vol. 12. 91. The case of the post-master general is an exception, and he is not liable for any of his deputies or clerks, on obvious principles of public policy. Lane v. Cotton, 1 Ld. Raym. 646. 655. S. C. 12 Mod. 488. Story on Agency, ch. 12. Supra, p. 610. So, public officers, generally, are responsible for their own acts and negligences, but not for those of their subordinate officers. Hall v. Smith, 2 Bingham, 156. Nicholson v. Mounsey, 15 East, 384. In ordinary cases of private individuals, the principal is liable to third persons for the frauds, torts, misfeasances, negligences, and defaults of the agent, even though the conduct of the agent was without his participation, consent, or knowledge, provided the breach, or want of duty, arose in the course of his employment, and was not a wilful departure from it. Paley on Agency, by Lloyd, 297—307. Story on Agency, 465—477. Laughter v. Pointer, 5 B. $ Cress. 547. Littledale v. Lansdale, 2 H. Blacks. Rep. 267. Bush v. Steinman, 1 B. $ Puller, 404. McManus v. Crickett, 1 East's Rep. 106. Vide supra, p. 259, 260. But there is also a qualification to this doctrine in the case of maste/s of merchants' vessels and of steam-boats, who are responsible as principals and