What is 'Implied Authority'

Implied authority refers to an agent with the jurisdiction to perform acts which are reasonably necessary to accomplish the purpose of an organization. Under contract law, implied authority figures have the ability to make a legally binding contract on behalf of another person or company.

BREAKING DOWN 'Implied Authority'

Implied authority is authority that is not express or written into a contract, but it is authority an agent is assumed to have in order to transact the business for a principal. Implied authority is incidental to express authority since not every single detail of an agent's authority can be spelled out in the written contract.

Implied authority applies to insurance company agent that is given the authority to solicit applications for life insurance on behalf of the insurer. When the insurer gives the agent that express authority, it also gives the agent the implied authority to telephone prospects on its behalf to arrange sales appointments. Implied authority also applies in a situation where a person is wearing a uniform or nametag bearing the logo or trademark of a business or organization. 

How Implied Authority Works

If a server at a restaurant tells you they can give you a free beverage with the purchase of an entree, they have made a contract with you on behalf of the restaurant business they are representing. The server's authority is implied by the fact that they have been chosen as the sole employee of the business designated to do business with you. Whether or not other employees ultimately get involved in the transaction is immaterial because it is expected that she will be the only person required to complete your business transaction.

In such a situation, if a restaurant manager came to your table and informed you that the server made a mistake and tried to take back the "free beverage with paid entree" offer, the business would actually be in direct violation of a legally enforceable contract made between you, the client, and their employee. They may certainly penalized the employee if they choose, but implied authority legally obliges them to honor the terms of the agreement. The same principle applies to more complex or extreme legal circumstances.

By contrast, "expressed authority" is clearly stated and granted by the principal to the agent either orally or in writing...and "apparent authority," sometimes called "ostensible authority," exists where a principal's actions could result in a third party (as a reasonable person) believing the agent had authority even where it may not be expressed or implied.

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