Ostensible Authority in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Hely-Hutchinson v Brayhead Ltd
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 22 Jun 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 Ene 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.

  • 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.

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

    That would seem to be right. 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.

  • Morris v Kanssen, sub nom Kanssen v Rialto (West End) Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 22 Mar 1946

    The wheels of business will not go smoothly round unless it may be assumed that that is in order which appears to be in order. It is a rule designed for the protection of those who are entitled to assume, just because they cannot know, that the person with whom they deal has the authority which he claims. He cannot presume in his own favour that things are rightly done if enquiry that he ought to make might tell him that they were wrongly done.

  • Britannia Steamship Insurance Association Ltd v Ausonia Assicurazioni S.p.A.
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 10 Abr 1984

    Once it is accepted that English law was the proper law of the contracts, if contracts had been entered into, then it seems to me that it is for English law to decide whether the conduct of the two "managers" of the defendants who had signed the agreements had been so held out by the defendants as to give rise to a valid plea of ostensible authority, or whether the conduct which has been referred to in summary by the learned judge was such as, under English law, domestic law, to have amounted to a ratification of the disputed contracts.

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Books & Journal Articles
  • Ostensible Authority in Public Law
    • Núm. 27-1, Marzo 1999
    • Federal Law Review
  • Acting with Common Humanity
    • Núm. 35-4, Julio 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 ......
    • Núm. 39-1, Enero 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
    • Núm. 27-4, Julio 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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