Question: Expressed or Implied Authority | ‘A’ is a teacher in a degree college and ‘B’ is his wife. ‘A’ goes to Germany on study leave for one year. In A’s absence, ‘B’ maintains herself with the money sent by ‘A’. On times when there is a delay in the arrival of money she takes goods on credit… Read More »

Question: Expressed or Implied Authority | ‘A’ is a teacher in a degree college and ‘B’ is his wife. ‘A’ goes to Germany on study leave for one year. In A’s absence, ‘B’ maintains herself with the money sent by ‘A’. On times when there is a delay in the arrival of money she takes goods on credit and pays after she gets the money. Thus once she purchased on credit one maund of rice, four sarees, and one gold necklace. Fifteen...

Question: Expressed or Implied Authority | ‘A’ is a teacher in a degree college and ‘B’ is his wife. ‘A’ goes to Germany on study leave for one year. In A’s absence, ‘B’ maintains herself with the money sent by ‘A’.

On times when there is a delay in the arrival of money she takes goods on credit and pays after she gets the money. Thus once she purchased on credit one maund of rice, four sarees, and one gold necklace. Fifteen days after this ‘A’ came back. Which of these goods ‘A’ is bound to pay the price? [HJS 1988]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Expressed or Implied Authority | ‘A’ is a teacher in a degree college and ‘B’ is his wife. ‘A’ goes to Germany on study leave for one year. In A’s absence, ‘B’ maintains herself with the money sent by ‘A’… Which of these goods ‘A’ is bound to pay the price?]

Answer

Section 186 of the Indian Contract Act talks about Agent’s authority may be expressed or implied.—The authority of an agent may be expressed or implied.

A wife living with her husband has the implied authority of the husband to buy articles of household necessity. In the striking words of Hornby: “As long as people continue to live in houses, the wife will normally do the household shopping, and the husband will pay the bills… The law of principal and agent will always cut deeply into the law of husband and wife.”

A wife’s implied authority to bind her husband by her credit purchases is, however, subject to some important limitations.

In the first place, it is necessary that the husband and wife should be living together. If the wife is living apart from the husband without his fault and if she has been left unprovided for, she may become an agent of the necessity of her husband to pledge his credit to the extent to which reasonable maintenance makes it necessary, but she will not be an implied agent.

Secondly, they must be living together in a domestic establishment of their own. “The mere fact of marriage does not make the wife an agent in the law of her husband”; nor the fact of living together is sufficient. There must be a domestic establishment of which the wife is in charge.

Thirdly, the wife can run her husband into debt only for necessaries. “The domestic arrangement of the family being usually left to the control of the wife, her authority extends to all those matters which fall within her department, as, for example, the supply of provisions for the house, clothing for herself and things of that sort.”

The word “necessaries” is no doubt not free from ambiguity. But it has been held to include articles suited to the style in which the husband chooses to live, because “the husband conducting himself in the manner of a wealthy man no doubt expects his wife to conduct herself in the manner of a wealthy man’s wife”. But the wife cannot embark upon the purchase of things beyond the station in which they live.

Thus in the case of Phillipson v. Hayter, [(1870) LR 6 CP 38]. where the goods supplied to a wife included a gold pen and pencil, a sealskin cigar case, a sealskin tobacco pouch, a glove, and a handkerchief, the husband was held not liable.

Therefore, applying the rationale of the abovementioned points to the present case at hand, the wife is allowed to maintain herself on reasonable necessaries that she needs but when she purchased on credit one maund of rice, four sarees, and one gold necklace, the gold necklace would not amount to necessary and hence the husband is not bound to pay for it. Only rice and sarees are seemingly necessary articles reasonable for maintenance of the wife, hence the husband will pay for that only.


Law of Contract Mains Questions Series: Important Questions for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 18 Feb 2022 3:30 AM GMT
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