Master And Servant Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Master And Servant, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Master And Servant?

(n) Master And Servant is the relationship between two individuals or entities by which one is responsible for the action of the other while the latter is carrying the directions of the former.

History and Definition of Master And Servant

The legal term Master and Servant refers to the relationship that exists between two individuals or entities, where one party (the master) has the authority to give directions to the other party (the servant), who is responsible for carrying out those directions. This relationship was established in the early common law, and it reflected the social structures of the times. In those days, lords exercised great power over their subjects, and it was natural for this notion to be transferred to the legal sphere. The relationship continued to exist through the modern times and is still recognized in some jurisdictions today.

In the UK, for example, the Master and Servant Act of 1823 defined the legal status of employees and the obligations of the employers. The purpose of the act was to regulate the relationship between the employee and employer and avoid disputes between them. It established the power of employers over employees and imposed penalties for disobedience, desertion, or any other offenses by employees.

Examples of Master And Servant

  • In an employment context, an employer may direct an employee to undertake a task or service, and the employee is required to carry out those instructions, failing which the employee may be subject to disciplinary action or termination.

  • In a landlord-tenant context, the landlord is the master, and the tenant is the servant. The landlord has the authority to give instructions to the tenant concerning the use of the property, and the tenant is required to follow those instructions.

  • In a volunteer organization, the volunteers are the servants, and the organizer is the master. The organizer may give instructions concerning the event or activity, and the volunteers are required to follow those instructions.

  • In a school context, the teacher is the master, and the students are the servants. The teacher has the power to direct the students concerning their studies and conduct behavior in the class.

Legal Terms Similar to Master And Servant

  • Employer and employee: Refers to a situation where an individual is hired to perform specific tasks in return for financial compensation. In modern times, Master and Servant is a seldom used term, and the relationship is more commonly described using the employer and employee terminology.

  • Principal and Agent: Refers to a relationship between two parties where one party has the authority to represent or act on behalf of the other party.

  • Landlord and tenant: An agreement where a person leases a property from another person for a specified period, during which the landlord may have some control over the tenant's use of the property.