What is a Delegated Authority?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2020
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A delegated authority is a type of legal authority or power given from one party to another, granting the receiving party the power to represent the giver and freely utilize the power given. This term can be used in a number of different applications, though it is typically used in reference to the actions of businesses or government bodies and organizations. In business, when this extension of power is granted, it allows employees of a company to act on behalf of the company itself. A delegated authority in government is a power or function granted by one government agency to another.

In legal terms, the idea of delegated authority allows one person or group to give power it has to another person or group for a variety of purposes. This can be seen, for example, in a client granting control of his or her estate to a lawyer to execute a will after his or her death. Similarly, a lawyer or attorney who represents a person in a criminal or civil case has been delegated authority by that client to act on his or her behalf and provide information that, otherwise, only the client would be allowed to present.


A delegated authority in business law usually refers to legal rights, powers, and privileges a company holds, which it can then pass to employees within the company. Companies often have the power to make purchases or sales when dealing with other companies or individuals. When power or authority is delegated from the business to an employee within that company, then that employee is granted the power to act on the behalf of the larger company when doing business. This type of delegated authority allows employees within a company to make purchases for the company, billing the company itself and allowing the employees to act on behalf of the business.

Governmental delegated authority typically extends from one government body or agency to another, granting that second agency powers that may have otherwise been reserved for the first agency. For example, certain powers may be considered the sole responsibility of the executive branch of a government. If that branch then grants those powers to a particular agency, created with the purpose of handling that power and those responsibilities, then it has delegated authority to the new agency. This can be an area of some contention in a government, though it often allows government branches to more efficiently run and ensure various tasks are being overseen and completed.


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