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Agent vs. Servant: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 26, 2023
An agent acts on behalf of another, representing their interests, while a servant performs tasks for others, typically in a personal or domestic capacity.

Key Differences

An agent is someone authorized to act on behalf of another person or entity, often in business or legal matters. Agents are typically empowered to make decisions and represent the interests of the principal (the person they are acting for). In contrast, a servant is someone employed to perform domestic duties or personal tasks for others. Servants usually have defined roles and responsibilities, focusing on providing services rather than making decisions.
The role of an agent often requires a level of autonomy and decision-making authority. They are expected to use their judgment and expertise to best represent their principal's interests. Conversely, servants follow instructions and perform tasks as directed by their employers. Their role is more about obedience and execution of specific duties rather than independent decision-making.
Agents typically operate in professional or commercial contexts. They can be found in various fields, including real estate, insurance, and entertainment, acting as intermediaries and negotiators. Servants, however, are primarily associated with personal or household services, such as housekeeping, cooking, and other domestic chores.
In terms of legal relationships, an agent's actions within their scope of authority are often legally binding on their principal. This relationship is governed by principles of agency law. On the other hand, a servant's actions primarily affect their own employment status and are not typically legally binding on their employer, except in certain circumstances like vicarious liability.
An agent’s relationship with their principal is often defined by a contract outlining their authority and responsibilities. In contrast, a servant’s employment is typically governed by employment law and may involve a more straightforward employer-employee relationship, emphasizing tasks and obedience over representation and decision-making.

Comparison Chart

Role and Responsibility

Acts on behalf of another, making decisions and representing interests.
Performs tasks for others, usually in a personal or domestic capacity.

Decision-Making Authority

Typically has autonomy and authority to make decisions.
Follows instructions, with limited decision-making authority.

Typical Context

Professional or commercial fields like real estate, law, and business.
Personal or household services like housekeeping and caregiving.

Legal Relationship

Actions can be legally binding on their principal.
Actions primarily affect employment status, not typically legally binding on employer.

Nature of Relationship

Defined by agency law and contractual agreements.
Governed by employment law and employer-employee dynamics.

Agent and Servant Definitions


An agent is someone who acts as an intermediary in transactions.
The insurance agent helped them choose the best policy.


A servant is a person employed to perform domestic tasks.
The servant diligently cleaned the large estate daily.


An agent is a person authorized to act on behalf of another.
The real estate agent negotiated the sale of the house.


A servant is an individual employed in a home for tasks like cleaning and cooking.
Their servant was responsible for maintaining the house's cleanliness.


An agent is a representative with authority to act for another.
The sports agent negotiated endorsements for the athlete.


A servant provides personal services to their employer.
The elderly lady's servant helped her with daily activities.


An agent is an individual empowered to make decisions for someone else.
The legal agent handled all the contractual agreements.


A servant is someone in a position of service, often in a domestic setting.
The household servant took care of all the laundry and ironing.


An agent represents another's interests, especially in business.
As her literary agent, he secured a lucrative book deal.


A servant is someone who works within a household, assisting with chores.
The family's servant prepared meals and tended to the garden.


One that acts or has the power or authority to act.


One who is privately employed to perform domestic services.


One empowered to act for or represent another
An author's agent.
An insurance agent.


What fields do agents typically work in?

Agents work in various fields, including real estate, insurance, and entertainment.

What defines an agent?

An agent is someone authorized to act and make decisions on behalf of another.

What is the role of a servant?

A servant performs domestic or personal tasks for others.

Can an agent make legally binding decisions?

Yes, within their scope of authority, an agent's decisions can bind their principal.

Is a servant's role decision-making or task-oriented?

It's primarily task-oriented, following specific instructions from their employer.

Are agents always individuals?

Agents can be individuals or entities, like agencies or firms.

How is an agent’s authority determined?

It's determined by a contract or agreement outlining their powers.

Can a servant make decisions on behalf of their employer?

Generally no, they perform tasks as directed without decision-making authority.

What are typical duties of a servant?

Duties include housekeeping, cooking, and other domestic chores.

Do servants have legal authority over their employer's affairs?

No, their actions usually don’t bind the employer legally.

Can a servant be in a non-domestic role?

While typically domestic, some servants might perform personal tasks in non-domestic settings.

Can an agent’s role overlap with that of a servant?

While different in nature, some roles may have overlapping functions, especially in personal assistant positions.

Is a servant’s employment typically long-term or short-term?

It can be either, depending on the employment agreement and nature of the work.

What's the primary difference in the relationship of an agent and a servant with their principal or employer?

An agent represents and makes decisions, while a servant performs assigned tasks.

Is an agent’s role specific to a field?

An agent’s role varies but always involves acting on behalf of another.

Are servants involved in business or commercial transactions?

Servants are generally not involved in business transactions; their role is more personal.

What laws apply to servants?

Employment law and labor standards typically govern their roles.

What legal principles govern an agent’s actions?

Agency law and the principles of representation govern their actions.

How do agents and servants differ in autonomy?

Agents have more autonomy and decision-making power, whereas servants follow set instructions.

Can an agent act without direct instructions?

Yes, agents often act independently within their authorized scope.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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