Definition - What does Principal mean?

A principal is a person who is the original source of a matter. For example, in criminal law, a principal could be the actual perpetrator of a crime. In an employment situation, the principal would be the employer and the agent would be the employee. The same concept also applies to other areas of law. For example, in business, an agent can act on behalf of a principal in contract negotiations.

Justipedia explains Principal

In certain circumstances, a person will use other people to carry out deeds that they wish to be done. It could be a car thief who plans to steal a car, a business man who plans to negotiate a merger with another company, or any other instance where one person is doing a task on behalf of someone else. Whatever the circumstance may be, the person who is the original source of the matter taking place is the principal. The people who are authorized by the principal to work on their behalf are known as agents.

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