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Agents of the Good, Servants of Evil: Harry Potter and the Law of Agency


Daniel S. Kleinberger


William Mitchell College of Law

May 2007

William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 67

Abstract:     
Agency relations are ubiquitous in the Harry Potter novels, and the study of Agency Law is almost as interesting and important as the study of Potions. This essay considers eight topics that arise from the overlap of Harry Potter and the law of agency:

• The Essence of Agency: Interfacing for the Principal
• Why the Labels Matter - Categories and Consequences
• Formation of an Agency Relationship - The Consent Requirement, House-Elves, and the Imperious Curse
• Ending the Agency Relationship - Potter-esque Variations on the Notion of Termination by Express Will
• The Agent's Duties to the Principal - Loyalty, Obedience, Good Conduct, House-Elves and Snape
• An Agent's Good Faith Struggles with the Duty of Loyalty
• Dumbledore - Agent or Principal and, if Agent, Agent for Whom?
• Servants of Evil?

The Potter novels are, among other things, a saga of the (so far) never-ending battle between the minions of Voldemort and the adherents of Dumbledore. Every Death Eater acts on behalf and under the control of Voldemort, and the Order of the Phoenix appears to act under Dumbledore's commands. Even Harry Potter is "Dumbledore's man through and through."

The Potter novels are thus replete with examples of agency "relationships in which one person, to one degree or another or respect or another, acts as a representative of or otherwise acts on behalf of another person." Restatement (Third) of Agency, § 1.01, comment c (2006) (describing the agency relationship). As a result, concepts from the law of agency can help explicate these novels, and the novels can in turn furnish appealing illustrations of agency law concepts.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 22

Keywords: Harry Potter, Voldemort, Dumbledore, Snape, agency, fiduciary, fiduciary duty, good conduct, authority, actual authority, apparent authority, control, enterprise liability, loyalty, termination, consent, Restatement

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Date posted: May 8, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Kleinberger, Daniel S., Agents of the Good, Servants of Evil: Harry Potter and the Law of Agency (May 2007). William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 67. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=984286 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.984286

Contact Information

Daniel S. Kleinberger (Contact Author)
William Mitchell College of Law ( email )
875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States
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