Ostensible Authority in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Armagas Ltd v Mundogas SA (The Ocean Frost)
    • House of Lords
    • 22 May 1986

    In the commonly encountered case, the ostensible authority is general in character, arising when the principal has placed the agent in a position which in the outside world is generally regarded as carrying authority to enter into transactions of the kind in question.

  • Hely-Hutchinson v Brayhead Ltd
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 22 June 1967

    It is implied when it is inferred from the conduct of the parties and the circumstances of the cape, such as when the board of directors appoint one of their number to be managing director. They thereby impliedly authorise him to do all such things as fall within the usual scope of that office. Actual authority, express or implied, is binding as between the company and the agent, and also as between the company and others, whether they are within the company or outside it.

    Ostensible or apparent authority is the authority of an agent as it appears to others. Thus, when the board appoint one of their number to be managing director, they invest him not only with implied authority, but also with ostensible authority to do all such things as fall within the usual scope of that office. But sometimes ostensible authority exceeds actual authority.

  • Freeman & Lockyer (A Firm)(Plaintiffs) Buckhurst Park Properties (Mangal) Ltd and Shiv Kumar Kapoor (Defendants)
    • Court of Appeal
    • 24 January 1964

    An "apparent" or "ostensible" authority, on the other hand, is a legal relationship between the principal and the contractor created by a representation, made by the principal to the contractor intended to be and in fact acted upon by the contractor, that the agent has authority to enter on behalf of the principal into a contract of a kind within the scope of the "apparent" authority, so as to render the principal liable to perform any obligations imposed upon him by such contract.

  • South Bucks District Council v Flanagan and another
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 16 May 2002

    Legitimate expectation involves notions of fairness and unless the person making the representation has actual or ostensible authority to speak on behalf of the public body, there is no reason why the recipient of the representation should be allowed to hold the public body to the terms of the representation. He might subjectively have acquired the expectation, but it would not be a legitimate one, that is to say it would not be one to which he was entitled.

  • Rolled Steel Products (Holdings) Ltd v British Steel Corporation
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 11 June 1984

    (6) If, however, a person dealing with a company is on notice that the directors are exercising the relevant power for purposes other than the purposes of the company, he cannot rely on the ostensible authority of the directors and, on ordinary principles of agency, cannot hold the company to the transaction.

  • Donegal International Ltd v Zambia
    • Queen's Bench Division (Commercial Court)
    • 15 February 2007

    Donegal's argument seems to be that the ostensible authority of Mr Kasonde derives from his usual authority as Minister of Finance, but this does not seem to me to answer an objection that his usual authority was restricted by the Constitution. This is not a case like Robertson v Minister of Pensions, [1949] 1 KB 227, which Donegal cite in their submissions, where Denning J could say at (p232) of a subject's dealings with a government department,

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Books & Journal Articles
  • Ostensible Authority in Public Law
    • Nbr. 27-1, March 1999
    • Federal Law Review
  • Acting with Common Humanity
    • Nbr. 35-4, July 1972
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... to be held to be invalid because the competent authority took irrelevant considerations into account or failed to take ... reasonably incidental to the execution of his task.5 Ostensible authority. There are in Burt v. Cousins dicta to the effect ......
    • Nbr. 39-1, January 1976
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... me leave to enter on B’s land and A has no actual authority to do so, I am a trespasser if I act on this permission: ... a breach of the licensing laws) as within Taffe's ostensible authority. Megaw L.J." indeed referred to ostensible authority ......
  • Agency in Hire‐Purchase Transactions
    • Nbr. 27-4, July 1964
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... e; first, the agent (the dealer) may have express authority from the prin- cipal (the finance company) to act as his ... is generally termed ‘‘ apparent )’ or “ ostensibleauthority.12 In contrast with the case of usual ......
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Law Firm Commentaries
  • Court Of Appeal Confirms Correct Legal Test For Determining A Principal's Liability For Its Agent's Fraudulent Misrepresentation
    • Mondaq UK
    ...... only if the fraudulent conduct was within the agent's actual or ostensible authority: Winter v Hockley Mint Limited [2018] EWCA Civ 2480. The court ......
  • Service Of Arbitration Notice
    • Mondaq UK
    ...... that in this case, the agent possessed both implied actual and ostensible authority to receive the notice; however, this "rare case" was decided ......
  • Contracting with a foreign sovereign: capacity and authority
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    Ukraine v The Law Debenture Trust Corporation PLC [2018] EWCA Civ 2026 - The second round of the legal battle between Russia and Ukraine over repayment of Eurobonds issued by Ukraine has...
    ...... The Court of Appeal agreed with Blair J that the Minister did have ostensible authority, although for different reasons. . Actual authority is determined by local law (in this case, Ukrainian law).  The parties agreed for ......
  • Parties Must Take Care to Avoid Risk of Defective Service in Arbitration
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    Two recent English court decisions provide useful reminders that parties to arbitration agreements must take care to properly serve arbitration proceedings on the other party. In doing so, parties ...
    ...... rare cases will an agent have anything other than express actual authority to accept service of a notice of arbitration.[1] However, in the unusual ... Court of Appeal held that the agent had both implied actual and ostensible authority to accept service. In Glencore Agriculture, the High Court ......
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