Agents of the Good, Servants of Evil: Harry Potter and the Law of Agency
Daniel S. Kleinberger
William Mitchell College of Law
William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 67
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
Date posted: May 8, 2007