Watteau v. Fenwick
[1893] 1 Queen’s Bench 346 (1892).

Facts:
Humble owned a brewery and transferred it to Fenwick. Humble stayed on as manager and still had his name on the door, but only had authority to buy ales and waters. When he bought cigars from the plaintiff, the plaintiff sued Fenwick to recover.

Issue:
Can Fenwick be liable even as an undisclosed principal?

Holding:
Yes.

Reasoning:
“Once it is established that the defendant was the real principal, the ordinary doctrine as to principal and agent applies – that the principal is liable for all the acts of the agent which are within the authority usually confided to an agent of that character, notwithstanding limitations.”

  • Here, the cigars were such as would usually be supplied to and dealt in at such an establishment – that is to say, that they were within the reasonable scope of the agent’s authority.