SCC Snippets| Are Clients Or Courts Bound By Lawyer’s Statements Or Admissions As To Matters Of Law Or Legal Conclusions?

In Himalayan Coop. Group Housing Society v. Balwan Singh, (2015) 7 SCC 373 a three-judge Bench of the then CJI Justice HL Dattu and SA Bobe and Arun Mishra, JJ clarified the law of agency with respect to client-lawyer relationships and held that while generally admissions of fact by counsel are binding, neither the client nor the court is bound by admissions as to matters of law or legal conclusions.

“32. Generally, admissions of fact made by a counsel are binding upon their principals as long as they are unequivocal; where, however, doubt exists as to a purported admission, the court should be wary to accept such admissions until and unless the counsel or the advocate is authorised by his principal to make such admissions. Furthermore, a client is not bound by a statement or admission which he or his lawyer was not authorised to make. A lawyer generally has no implied or apparent authority to make an admission or statement which would directly surrender or conclude the substantial legal rights of the client unless such an admission or statement is clearly a proper step in accomplishing the purpose for which the lawyer was employed. We hasten to add neither the client nor the court is bound by the lawyer’s statements or admissions as to matters of law or legal conclusions. Thus, according to generally accepted notions of professional responsibility, lawyers should follow the client’s instructions rather than substitute their judgment for that of the client. We may add that in some cases, lawyers can make decisions without consulting the client. While in others, the decision is reserved for the client. It is often said that the lawyer can make decisions as to tactics without consulting the client, while the client has a right to make decisions that can affect his rights.”

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