Robertson v. Chapman
152 U.S. 673 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Robertson v. Chapman, 152 U.S. 673 (1894)

Robertson v. Chapman

No. 255

Argued March 9, 12, 1894

Decided April 2, 1894

152 U.S. 673

Syllabus

The evidence does not bring this case within the operation of the following principles of law, laid down by the Court in its opinion, namely

(1) That an agent is precluded from taking advantage of his principal, or from dealing with the property committed to his care in any other capacity than as an agent, who is bound to subordinate his own interests to those of his principal.

(2) That an agent cannot directly or indirectly become the purchaser of property of his principal, entrusted to him to sell, and cannot maintain a title thus acquired as against his principal, for, in so purchasing, his duty and his interest would come in conflict.

(3) That if an agent to sell effects a sale to himself, under the cover of the name of another person, he becomes, in respect to the property, a trustee for the principal, and, at the election of the latter, seasonably made, will be compelled to surrender it, or, if he has disposed of it to a bona fide purchaser, to account not only for its real value, but for any profit realized by him on such resale, and this will be done upon the demand of the principal, although it may not appear that the property, at the time the agent fraudulently acquired it, was worth more than he paid for it.

(4) That the law will not, in such case, impose upon the principal the burden of proving that he was in fact injured, and will only inquire whether the agent has been unfaithful in the discharge of his duty, for while the agency continues, he must act, in the matter of such agency, solely with reference to the interests of his principal, and the law will not permit him, without the knowledge or assent of his principal, to occupy a position in which he will be tempted not to do the best he may for the principal.

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