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This Article is Written by Aishwarya Chakraborty BBALLB 5th Semester of Techno India University, Kolkata.           


The relationship between agents and principals in business and legal transactions is governed by a set of rights and duties that ensure the smooth and lawful operation of their partnership. Agents have rights, including compensation, reimbursement, indemnification, access to information, and the right to terminate the relationship under specific conditions. Their duties encompass loyalty, care, obedience, accountability, and confidentiality towards the principal. On the other hand, principals have rights such as expecting performance, receiving information, terminating the relationship, and seeking damages for breaches. Their duties include compensation, acting in good faith, cooperation, and honesty. Clear communication and adherence to these rights and duties are essential for a successful and legally compliant agency relationship, as failing to do so can lead to disputes and financial losses. Understanding and respecting these roles and obligations is crucial for both agents and principals.


Agent, Principal, Rights, Duties, Parties


The relationship between an agent and a principal is a fundamental aspect of business and legal transactions. Agents act on behalf of principals to carry out specific tasks, make decisions, and represent their interests. This relationship is governed by both rights and duties for both parties, which are critical for a smooth and lawful operation of various business and legal activities. In this discussion, we will explore the rights and duties of agents and principals.

Concurrently, they are bound by a set of duties that encompass loyalty, care, obedience, accountability, and confidentiality toward their principals. Principals, in turn, possess rights including the expectation of performance, access to information, the ability to terminate the relationship, and seeking damages for breaches of duty. Their duties encompass compensation, acting in good faith, cooperation, and honesty.

This intricate framework of rights and duties forms the bedrock of the agency relationship, serving as a guiding compass for the actions and responsibilities of agents and principals alike. The clarity and adherence to these rights and duties are essential for the efficient and legally sound operation of their partnership. Neglecting these fundamental principles can result in disputes, legal complications, and financial repercussions for both agents and principals. Hence, understanding and respecting these roles and obligations is paramount for all parties engaged in an agency relationship, ensuring its success and adherence to legal standards. In this discussion, we will delve into these rights and duties in greater detail, shedding light on their significance and implications.

Rights of Agents:

  1. Right to Compensation: Agents have the right to receive compensation for their services as agreed upon in the agency agreement. This compensation can be a fee, commission, salary, or any other form as specified in the contract.
  2. Right to Reimbursement: Agents have the right to be reimbursed for any expenses incurred while carrying out their duties on behalf of the principal. This includes travel expenses, communication costs, and other reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Right to Indemnification: Agents have the right to be indemnified by the principal for any losses or liabilities incurred while acting within the scope of their authority. This means that the principal is responsible for covering any legal or financial consequences arising from the agent’s actions.
  4. Right to Information: Agents have the right to access information necessary for the proper execution of their duties. This includes access to documents, records, and other relevant information held by the principal.
  5. Right to Termination: Agents have the right to terminate the agency relationship if it is stipulated in the agency agreement or if the principal breaches the contract. Termination may also be allowed for other valid reasons, depending on the applicable laws and regulations.[1]

Duties of Agents:

  1. Duty of Loyalty: Agents owe a duty of loyalty to their principals, which means they must act solely in the best interests of the principal. They cannot engage in self-dealing or take actions that would benefit themselves at the expense of the principal.[2]
  2. Duty of Care: Agents have a duty to exercise reasonable care, skill, and diligence in carrying out their duties. They must use their expertise and knowledge to the best of their ability to achieve the goals of the agency.
  3. Duty of Obedience: Agents must follow the lawful instructions and directions provided by the principal within the scope of their authority. They cannot deviate from these instructions without the principal’s consent.
  4. Duty of Accountability: Agents are accountable for their actions and must keep accurate records of their transactions and activities on behalf of the principal. Transparency and accountability are essential aspects of agency relationships.
  5. Duty of Confidentiality: Agents have a duty to maintain the confidentiality of any information or trade secrets provided by the principal. They cannot disclose this information to third parties without the principal’s consent or unless required by law.

Rights of Principals:

  1. Right to Performance: Principals have the right to expect that their agents will perform their duties as agreed upon in the agency agreement. This includes completing tasks, making decisions, and achieving the objectives set by the principal.
  2. Right to Information: Principals have the right to request information and updates from their agents regarding the progress and status of the tasks or transactions entrusted to them.
  3. Right to Termination: Principals have the right to terminate the agency relationship for justifiable reasons, such as breach of contract or a change in circumstances. However, termination must generally be done in accordance with the terms of the agency agreement or applicable laws.
  4. Right to Damages: If the agent breaches their duties or causes harm to the principal through negligence or misconduct, the principal has the right to seek damages and compensation for their losses.

Duties of Principals:

  1. Duty to Compensate: Principals have a duty to compensate agents for their services as agreed upon in the agency agreement. Failing to provide the agreed-upon compensation can lead to a breach of contract.
  2. Duty of Good Faith: Principals have a duty to act in good faith and deal fairly with their agents. They should not engage in deceptive or unfair practices that could harm the agent’s interests.
  3. Duty of Cooperation: Principals must cooperate with their agents and provide the necessary resources and information to enable the agent to carry out their duties effectively.
  4. Duty of Honesty: Principals should be honest and transparent with their agents regarding their expectations, instructions, and any relevant information.


  1. Mechem v. Merchants’ National Bank (1898):

This case clarified the agent’s duty of loyalty to the principal. It established that agents must act in the best interests of the principal and avoid conflicts of interest.

  • Carter v. Boehm (1766):

This case emphasized the duty of disclosure. It established that an agent must inform the principal of all material facts related to the agency, ensuring transparency and informed decision-making.

  • Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB (1951):

While not directly an agency law case, it highlights the duty of accountability. It demonstrated that agents and representatives must maintain accurate records and documentation of their actions and decisions.

  • Kester v. Crilly (1985):

This case exemplifies the principal’s right to terminate the agency relationship. It established that a principal can terminate an agency relationship at will, subject to any contractual agreements or legal obligations.

  • Bloor v. Falstaff Brewing Corp. (1979):

This case illustrates the principal’s right to seek damages for breaches. It showcased the ability of a principal to take legal action against an agent for any harm or financial loss caused by the agent’s actions or negligence.

Contemporary Challenges and Developments in Agency Relationships-

In today’s rapidly evolving business and legal landscape, agency relationships face a host of contemporary challenges and developments that both agents and principals must navigate. These challenges and developments have been significantly influenced by technological advancements, globalization, and changes in business practices. Here, we explore some of the key issues in this domain:

A. Technology and Virtual Agency Relationships

1. Remote Work and Virtual Agencies:

The rise of remote work and virtual teams has redefined how agency relationships are formed and managed. Agents may now operate from diverse locations, requiring robust communication and collaboration tools.

2. E-Commerce and Digital Marketing:

With the growth of e-commerce and digital marketing, agents often work in online spaces, representing principals in the digital realm. This presents unique challenges related to data privacy, online reputation management, and adherence to evolving digital regulations.

3. Artificial Intelligence and Automation:

The integration of artificial intelligence and automation into business processes raises questions about the role of agents. Agents may need to adapt to working alongside AI systems, which can handle certain tasks more efficiently.

B. International and Cross-Border Agency Relationships

1. Globalization and Multinational Corporations:

As businesses expand across borders, agency relationships become increasingly international. Agents and principals may need to navigate different legal systems, cultural norms, and regulatory frameworks.

2. Trade Agreements and Tariffs:

International trade agreements and tariff disputes can impact agency relationships. Agents may need to monitor changes in trade policies and adapt their strategies accordingly.

3. Cross-Cultural Communication:

Effective cross-cultural communication becomes essential in international agency relationships. Agents must understand and respect cultural nuances to build trust and achieve desired outcomes.

C. Agency Relationships in the Digital Age

1. Data Security and Privacy:

Protecting sensitive information in agency relationships is critical. Agents and principals must adhere to data protection regulations, such as GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California, to safeguard personal and business data.

2. Online Reputation Management:

The digital age has amplified the importance of online reputation. Agents must be vigilant in managing and enhancing the online image and reputation of their principals.

3. Social Media Influence:

The emergence of social media influencers as agents has created new challenges and opportunities. Agents in this realm must navigate endorsement regulations and maintain authenticity.

D. Evolving Regulatory Frameworks

1. Changes in Agency Law:

Legislation and case law continue to evolve, impacting the rights and duties of agents and principals. Staying updated on legal changes is crucial for compliance.

2. Environmental and Sustainability Regulations:

Growing concerns about environmental sustainability have led to new regulations and expectations for businesses. Agents may need to factor sustainability into their strategies.

3. Ethical Considerations:

Society’s expectations of ethical conduct are high. Agents and principals must consider ethical implications in their decisions and actions.


The rights and duties of agents and principals form the foundation of the agency relationship. Clarity in the agency agreement, communication, and a commitment to fulfilling these rights and duties are essential for a successful and legally compliant partnership between the two parties. Failure to uphold these rights and duties can lead to disputes, legal challenges, and financial losses for both agents and principals. Therefore, it is crucial for both parties to understand and respect their respective roles and obligations in the agency relationship.


  • Kapoor, N.D. (2015). Indian Contract Act. Eastern Book Company
  • 13th Edition, Avatar Singh, Contract and Specific Relief, Eastern Book Company (2022).

[1] 15th Edition, R.K. Bangia, Indian Contract Act, Allahabad Law Agency (2016).

[2] Kapoor, N.D. (2015). Indian Contract Act. Eastern Book Company


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