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General Contract Duties

15 January, 2016 - 09:35

These duties are analogues of many of the agent’s duties that we have just examined. In brief, a principal has a duty “to refrain from unreasonably interfering with [an agent’s] work.” 1 The principal is allowed, however, to compete with the agent unless the agreement specifically prohibits it. The principal has a duty to inform his agent of risks of physical harm or pecuniary loss that inhere in the agent’s performance of assigned tasks. Failure to warn an agent that travel in a particular neighborhood required by the job may be dangerous (a fact unknown to the agent but known to the principal) could under common law subject the principal to a suit for damages if the agent is injured while in the neighborhood performing her job. A principal is obliged to render accounts of monies due to agents; a principal’s obligation to do so depends on a variety of factors, including the degree of independence of the agent, the method of compensation, and the customs of the particular business. An agent’s reputation is no less valuable than a principal’s, and so an agent is under no obligation to continue working for one who sullies it.