Index ← 2245 CFJ 2246 2247 → text
==============================  CFJ 2246  ==============================

    CFJ 2245 was retracted.


Caller:                                 Taral

Judge:                                  ais523
Judgement:                              FALSE



Called by Taral:                        30 Oct 2008 20:21:52 GMT
Assigned to ais523:                     02 Nov 2008 16:14:33 GMT
Judged FALSE by ais523:                 10 Nov 2008 19:08:35 GMT


Caller's Arguments:

R2175 permits a player to retract a case if it has not yet had a judge
assigned to it. However, R101(ii) prohibits actions which would
prevent resolution of a controversy. If ehird's actions on behalf of
BobTHJ are intended to abridge BobTHJ's R101 rights, then they would
be prohibited by that rule. (Note that R101 mentions binding
agreements specifically.)


Gratuitous Arguments by Machiavelli:

Being acted on behalf of is voluntary. Agreeing to a
contract can obviously constitute consent to being acted on behalf of,
but in this case, it's obvious that BobTHJ does not want ehird acting
on behalf of em. Also, R101(v) may have something to say about this,
though "reasonable opportunity to review" is a bit weak.

If this CFJ is judged TRUE, I see cause for an R101 amendment: "Every
person has the right to refuse for another person to act on eir
behalf, unless e has explicitly and willfully consented to the


Gratuitous Arguments by ehird:

Inquiry CFJs are still available, and they can help resolve
controversy just the same.

Of course, there is no controversy on the interpretation of the rules.

Just an unhappiness at the state of the contract.


Judge ais523's Arguments:

OK, this case seems to be missing evidence. (Basically: a contract was
modified by majority consent to allow two of its members to mousetrap a
third, who had not agreed; the modified contract purported to allow
equity cases by BobTHJ against the resulting contract to be retracted.)

First, there are two issues relevant to this case that I want to get out
of the way quickly. Rule 101/10(ii) is irrelevant here; BobTHJ could
have initiated an inquiry case rather than an equity case without
problems. (Admittedly, that would have resulted in "yep, you're
mousetrapped" rather than getting em out of the situation, but rule 101
does not explicitly give people the right to get out of contracts they
don't like.) Rule 101/10(iii) also does not help, as BobTHJ agreed to
both the contract in question and the means for changing it, and rule
101/10(iii) does not require explicit consent for amendments to
contracts. Rule 101/10(iv) also seems not to help as BobTHJ seemed
pretty familiar with the content of the amendment in question; as e was
discussing it, and commenting on it, this seems to allow an ample time
to review the amendment in question.

The more interesting parts of this is the exact circumstances in which
act-on-behalf works. Until recently, act-on-behalf for players was not
mentioned in the rules (rule 2169 now has such an act-on-behalf clause;
arguably the Monster/Mad Scientist do too, but the Monster probably
isn't a player), and indeed players acting on behalf of other players
via contracts appears to stem only from rule 217, except possibly in the
case of partnerships where rule 101 is involved too. (I know everyone
groans when someone mentions rule 217; bear with me.)

In order to establish just what the relevant custom is, it is worthwhile
looking at past CFJs and past rules. The relevant rule in this case is
the no-longer-existing R1478. Rule 1478/5 looked like this before it was
      (a) An Executor of an entity is a Player who is empowered by the
          Rules to act on behalf of that entity, who is called the
          Executee. There may be more than one such Player. An
          Executor of an Executee may perform on behalf of the
          Executee all such actions as the Rules permit the Executee
          to perform.

      (b) A Limited Executor of an entity is a Player who is empowered
          by the Rules to perform on behalf of that entity a subset of
          the actions which the Rules permit the entity to perform. A
          Limited Executor is permitted to perform on behalf of an
          Executee only such actions as are explicitly permitted by
          the Rules.

      (c) A Player is always eir own Executor. Other entities have
          Executors (or Limited Executors) only as and when the Rules

      (d) A Player acting on behalf of an entity other than emself
          must clearly indicate on whose behalf e is acting. A Player
          who does not clearly indicate that e is acting on behalf of
          some entity other than emself is presumed to be acting on
          eir own behalf.

      (e) Only persons may perform actions. Non-persons perform
          actions only via the agency of persons, as specified by the
Granting Executorship explicitly used to be done via rules 1841/1842,
which effectively allowed a player to grant it by announcement if
certain conditions were met.

Since the repeals in late 2006 (see my arguments to CFJs 2086/2087 for
context), the rules in question have not existed, and act-on-behalf has
thus lapsed into game custom, as so many other things did just then. (As
nobody appealed my judgements of the CFJs in question, there seems
precedent that things repealed in that particular batch continued to
exist iff they became game custom and no contradictory legislation was
passed in the meantime.) It is probably worth mentioning that some of
the relevant language (to do with Executors) is still left in rule 2170,
although it no longer seems to have an effect on the rules.

In this case, CFJ 1941 seems to establish that in May this year, it was
already established custom that an effective Power of Attorney was
grantable in practice via contracts, once the rules no longer gave a
method of doing so. Going back earlier, CFJ 1815 implies that
partnerships were considered to be capable of acting via act-on-behalf
(this makes sense because otherwise partnerships would not have the R101
right to participate); note that this is slightly different, because
partnerships are the contract in question, rather than bound by it.
However, there seems no real doubt that act-on-behalf is in general
possible, and that the current game-custom way to grant it is via
contract. In cases where people explicitly agreed to a contract knowing
it would grant act-on-behalf power, it is therefore impossible to
conclude that it wouldn't work. (This is the precedent of CFJ 1941; I
understand that at the time at least one player thought act-on-behalf
wouldn't work at all, but since then it seems established as a working

So the precedent is that a player can grant power of attorney via
contract (and that it lasts as long as the contract does, and can be
modified by the contract itself). It is also interesting that although
it used to be impossible to use power of attorney to deregister someone
(although you could do anything else with it as long as you didn't
violate R101), the modern version seems to allow deregistration (for
instance when ehird was ripped apart by walnuts). (Note that this is all
based on precedent and custom not on rules; i.e. this is more Nomic 217
than Agora. It's really annoying having to fall back on rule 217; I'm
one of those players who likes rules rather than merely customs and
CFJs. Maybe we should legislate to get out of this situation.)

However, the important issue in this CFJ is one that isn't covered by
the rules, and has never come up before; if someone does not agree to an
amendment to a contract which would grant act-on-behalf rights, but is
instead mousetrapped into it, does the grant happen?

There are several arguments to consider. First, the mousetrap certainly
seems to work to create SHALL requirements on a player, although TITE
would seem to prevent these working. (Imagine this scenario:
ehird/Wooble amend the Protection Racket so that BobTHJ SHALL give them
50 Coins each, BobTHJ doesn't, ehird/Wooble calls an equity case
claiming that things didn't happen according to the contract! Probably
that would end up with a null judgement, or worse.) As SHALL
requirements are blocked by TITE in this situation, should act-on-behalf
be? It isn't defined either way by the rules, but it is very much in the
spirit of TITE to block act-on-behalf too; an equity case, if it were
created, would clearly find the situation inequitable and do something
to correct it. However, two of the parties to the contract don't want to
call an equity case, and the third tried to but potentially it was
remotely retracted. (This is yet another TITE scam, that rule severely
needs fixing; however, it is not the place of a judge to deprive players
of a valid Scam merely because it was a scam, just to determine whether
it worked or not.) If TITE were more widely supported, I think this
would be a relatively strong argument in favour of the act-on-behalf not
working; however, TITE is controversial, buggy, and not generally agreed
upon, and so I can't take it as influencing game custom all that
strongly. It is a rule, though, so this argument is mildly in favour.
(This is balanced somewhat by the argument that valid scams should not
arbitrarily be blocked by judges, I'm not sure if that applies here but
it's strong game custom that it should be followed if it does.)

Another potential reason to find that the act-on-behalf fails is rule
101. Much of it is designed to prevent mousetraps; in this situation, a
valid mousetrap appears to have occured despite rule 101, allowing a
contract a player's a member of to be modified without eir consent.
However, act-on-behalf is defined entirely by custom not rules at the
moment. Therefore, presumably rule 101 protections on it would be
defined entirely by custom not rules, and this hasn't come up yet at
all. I know that Warrigal, in particular, thinks that this protection
should exist even if it doesn't yet; and there seems to be no game
custom or past judgements at all with respect to this particular
question. With game custom and past judgements missing, rule 217 says we
have to look at common sense, and the best interests of the game. Common
sense does not seem to give much of an answer here either; mousetrapping
someone to act on eir behalf is not obviously absurd, but nor is it
obviously correct. As for the best interests of the game; it's necessary
to balance scams against mousetraps, so to speak. The problem is that
either judgement seems plausible; Scamsters having fun is one of the
charms of Agora, but it's not worth making life too easy for them, and
the game isn't all scams either; there's legitimate gameplay involved
too. (Note that the Protection Racket was itself intended as some kind
of scam, or at least a massive corruption of the judicial system.) In
short, a question on which the rules draw a blank altogether. I haven't
seen something like this in Agora beforehand; maybe I should just judge
UNDECIDABLE. Or FLOYD, despite me not actually wanting that verdict in
the rules.

The final question is what exactly it is that gives someone the right to
act-on-behalf. Agreeing to a contract that allows it? Agreeing to an
amendment that allows it? Having a contract modified to allow it while
you are a party? This question has come up once before, around the Vote
Market was modified from majority support for changes to
without-3-objections. In
Goethe argues that it is not protective of an individual's interests to allow
a majority-consent change (foretelling the scam this CFJ is about,
incidentally); interesting here is that:
      * e seemed to think that the act-on-behalf change would work, and
      * it seemed clear that such a change was going too far, in a way,
        from the point of view of at least one party to the contract
        (this goes back to the second point).
It seems likely that in the case of the Vote Market people who supported
the majority change in question would have been bound by the new
act-on-behalf clause (if it had passed, which it didn't); as for people
opposing, the situation didn't come up, but Goethe seemed to think both
that it would and that it shouldn't. So pretty much a draw here, too.

The scam in question is now over, having been defeated by a counter-scam,
and I have to make a decision; I judge FALSE, as it seems the most
appropriate. In the ruleset of today, with the customs of today,
act-on-behalf is granted by agreeing to a contract, or an amendment to a
contract, that makes it possible, or at least not objecting during an
objection period (implicit consent). If someone is mousetrapped into a
contract or an amendment on it, then act-on-behalf does not work,
because it was never granted, neither explicitly nor implicitly. (In
keeping with Goethe's judgement on CFJ 2213, act-on-behalf is not
granted merely by agreeing to a contract that does not mention it, just
because it could theoretically in the future be modified.)