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The First Exception Consid Ered


THE FIRST EXCEPTION CONSID ERED. In general, whatever a man "sui juris" may do for himself he may do by another. But this is sub ject to the exception that no valid agency or contract can be created for the commission or promotion of an act which is illegal, immoral or opposed to public pol icy. Such an agency, if attempted, is void. The law will neither enforce performance on the part of the agent, or payment for the service from the principal, but generally leaves the parties in whatever position they may have placed themselves.

Having already discussed the principles of law ap plicable to contracts opposed to public policy, or taint ed with illegality or immorality of object, we shall not dwell at length on the subject in this connection, and refer the student to the previous volume in this series.

The law of Agency offers no new principles in addi tion to those discussed under the subject of Contract, as regards undertakings illegal in their nature, or op posed to public policy. Thus, lobbying agents, or those employed to procure or to attempt to procure or de feat legislation by use of personal solicitation, intrigue, or other undue influence with legislators, cannot en force payment for their services. Such an agency is void as against public policy, and this though nothing improper was actually done or intended to be done. The fact that the contract has a tendency to establish corrupt methods is enough to stamp it as one which public policy forbids. But certain services looking to the information of legislators, and which do not seek to prejudice them through personal influence, may be legitimate. Thus the collection of data, drafting of pe titions, and the preparation of arguments for public submission to the legislature or to its committees, is a proper subject of employment.

Akin to lobbying agents are those who undertake to secure contracts through personal influence from the government, or the heads of governmental depart ments, and such agents, if employed to do anything further than present the bids of their employers for the public supplies, cannot enforce the terms of their agency, since such acts are contrary to public policy and void. (Tool Co. v. Norris, 2 Wall. 45.) So a contract to prosecute a claim against a municipality or government would be void for like reasons if it con templated the employment of personal influence or persuasion, or other improper means upon the officer or body vested with authority to decide the matter. (Devlin v. Brady, 32 Barb. 518.) In like manner and for like reasons employment to compromise crimes, or stifle prosecutions is void; so services rendered in pro curing the appointment of a person to a public or pri vate office or employment, or in improperly influenc ing elections cannot be upheld when sued upon.. The use of open and honorable means to secure the election or appointment of a person to office is permissible. Thus a person may be employed to make speeches for a can didate or publish and circulate arguments favorable to a candidate. (Keating v. Hyde, 23 Mo. App. 555.) An agency to procure a pardon by the use of improper means would likewise be void, unless the conviction had been illegal. (Hatzfield v. Gulden, 7 Watts, 152; Thompson v. Wharton, 7 Bush, 563.) So services ren dered in procuring or suppressing evidence, where the intention is to secure evidence at all events, and leading probably to the subornation of witnesses, are mani festly opposed to public policy, and no compensation can be collected for them. (Gillett v. Logan Co., 67 Ill. 256.) Gambling in stocks is illegal, as is an under taking to corner, control, or monopolize the market, or prevent natural competition, and any agency or em ployment for this purpose is void. (Raymond v. Lea vitt, 46 Midi. 447; Morris Run Coal Co. v. Barclay Coal Co., 68 Pa. St. 173.) Agreements to pay for ser vices in corrupting or bribing the servants or agents of another, or to lead such agents to be remiss in their duty or to violate the confidence placed in them are clearly opposed to public policy and void.

As between the principal and the agent, in order to render an undertaking void as against public policy, and prevent the agent from recovering for his services, the agent must have had knowledge of the illegal purpose or participated in it. So, where the undertaking was apparently lawful, and the agent was ignorant of the facts making it unlawful, it was held that he was not affected by its illegality. (Wright v. Crabbs, 78 Ind.

Where the agency is an entirety, and contains ele ments that are unlawful and others that are lawful, it cannot be so separated as to sustain the elements that are lawful; otherwise, however, if the agency is not an entirety, for in this case the lawful parts may still be enforced. (Mechem on Agency, Sec. 4o; Parsons, Contracts, 1, 486; Filson v. Himes, 5 Pa. St. 452.)

public, agency, void, policy and illegal