The strongest form of authority is that which is expressly granted, often in written form. The principal consents to the agent’s actions, and the third party may then rely on the document attesting to the agent’s authority to deal on behalf of the principal. One common form of express authority is the standard signature card on file with banks allowing corporate agents to write checks on the company’s credit. The principal bears the risk of any wrongful action of his agent, as demonstrated in Allen A. Funt Productions, Inc. v. Chemical Bank. 1 Allen A. Funt submitted to his bank through his production company various certificates permitting his accountant to use the company’s checking accounts. 2 In fact, for several years the accountant embezzled money from the company by writing checks to himself and depositing them in his own account. The company sued its bank, charging it with negligence, apparently for failing to monitor the amount of money taken by the accountant. But the court dismissed the negligence complaint, citing a state statute based on the common-law agency principle that a third party is entitled to rely on the express authorization given to an agent; in this case, the accountant drew checks on the account within the monetary limits contained in the signature cards on file with the bank. Letters of introduction and work orders are other types of express authority.
Figure 21.1 Types of Authority