Legal Responsibilities of Agents and Employees

Agency law is a component of civil law and deals with the legal relationship by which one person acts on behalf of another. The agent is the person who acts on behalf of the principal to do something the principal has delegated the agent to do, which the principal him or herself is legally permitted to do.

The creation of an agency relationship gives rise to both rights and duties of the agent and the principal, as well as the potential for liability to each other and to third parties. Principals may be held liable by third parties for the acts of their agents under certain, but not all, circumstances. The potential liabilities a principal has to third parties for the agent's acts often depend on whether the agent is an employee or an independent contractor. Principals face potentially more liabilities to third parties for the acts of their employees than they do for the acts of their independent contractors.