Every ratification of an act already done has a retrospective effect, and is equal to a previous request to do it.
An instance of the application of this rule is where an agent acts in excess of his authority, his acts being subsequently acquiesced in by his principal. Also, where a man, not the agent of another, wrongfully does an act afterwards acquiesced in by the person to whom the wrong is done. In such case, the wrong- doer becomes the agent, in that matter, of the party to whom the wrong is done ; as, where a man's property is wrongfully sold, the owner may either bring trover against the wrong-doer, or treat him as his agent, and adopt the sale.
This rule applies generally to all cases of contract, and to such torts as are capable of being adopted ; as, where the relation of principal and agent can be considered as applicable, and where the act done is for the use or benefit, or in the name of the ratifying party. The ratification, moreover, is reciprocal, and may be adopted as well for as against the party ratifying, and this even in torts ; as, where a trespass is committed without previous authority, subsequent ratification will enable the party on whose behalf the act was done to take advantage of it.
In all the ordinary relations of master and servant, principal and agent, there is an implied authority on the part of the servant and agent to do such acts as are necessarily within the scope of their employment ; and the principal is in such cases bound thereby. Where, however, anything is done by them not within the scope of their employment, they require a previous authority or a subsequent ratification by their principal to make their acts binding upon him ; but when such previous authority is given, the act done draws with it all such consequences upon the principal as ordinarily arise upon an act done. Where the relationship 'of master and servant exists, and when such ratification is given, the principal is bound by it to the same extent as though done by his previous authority, and that whether it be for his advantage or detriment. If a stranger seal a deed by commandment precedent, or agreement subsequent, of him who is to seal it, before the delivery of it, it is as well as if the party to the deed sealed it himself. And, therefore, if another man seal a deed of mine, and I take it up afterwards and deliver it as my deed, this is a good agreement to and allowance of the sealing, and so a good deed. So, also, a deed may be delivered by the party himself who makes it, or by any other by his authority precedent or assent or agreement subsequent ; and when it is delivered by another who has such good authority and pursues it, it is as good a deed as if it had been delivered by the party himself, but otherwise if he do not pursue his authority.
A servant, not having authority, having signed a bill of exchange in the name of his master, the master's subsequent promise to pay was held equal to a previous authority.
A subsequent recognition by the landlord of a bailiff's authority to distrain in his name is sufficient to answer a plea that the defendant was not the bailiff of the landlord. But where one distrains in his own name, as for rent due to himself, and without any authority from the landlord to distrain on his behalf, a subsequent ratification will not suffice. Nor is the receipt by the landlord of the proceeds of an illegal distress in his name, without knowledge of the facts, any ratification of the illegal acts of the bailiff.
Co. Litt. 207, 258 ; Shepp. Touch. 57 ; Show, 95 ; Fitzmaurice v. Bailey, 8 Ell. & Ell. 80S ; Pearce v. Rogers, 3 Esp. 214 ; Haseler v. Lemoyne, 28 L. J. 103,C.R; Fenn v. Harrison, 4 T. R. 177; Trevillian v. Pine, 11 Mod. 112; Lewis v. Read, 13 M. & W. 834 ; Pyle v. Partridge. 15 M. & W. 20 ; Wilson v. Tumman, 6 So. X. R. 904 ; Whitehead v. Taylor, 10 A. & E. 213 ; Todd v. Robinson, R. & M. 217.