A Servant occupies a position which sounds parallel to that occupied by an agent. For instance, both are employed to act for an on behalf of the master. Similarly, an agent and a servant transact business (to a greater or less extent) under the control and supervision of their respective employers. Yet, there is a material difference between an agent and a servant, which can be summed up as follows.
Difference between an Agent & Servant
1. Authority to create contractual relationship: Apart from acting on behalf of his/her principal, an agent has the authority to create contractual relations between the principal and a third party. A servant ordinarily, has no such authority.
2. Control and Supervision: A servant is bound to work under direct control and supervision of his employer. A ‘principal’ directs the agent as to what is to be done, but a master or employer of a servant not only has that right, but also the right to direct how it is to be done.
3. Number of Masters: A servant usually serves only one master, but an agent may work for several principals at the same time.
4. Remuneration: The mode of remuneration is usually different. Remuneration for a servant is paid by way of salary or wages, whereas an agent generally gets his remuneration in terms of commission calculated on the basis of the amount of business transacted.
5. Duty Assignment: A servant in certain cases to some extent may be assigned the duties of an agent, and may act as one. For example, the secretary of a company is regarded as the servant of the company, but in respect of the matters that come under his/her domain he/she becomes an agent in their dealings with third persons. An agent as such never occupies the position of a servant because whenever he acts, he acts on behalf of his principal and binds him/her (principal) to third parties.
6. Liability: A principal is liable on contracts made by his agent within scope of authority. But a master is answerable for any wrongful act of his servant if it is committed in the course of the servant’s employment.