An unequivocal statement made by counsel will be binding on parties

Special leave petition was filed against the judgments and orders dated 12.5.2016 in Civil Revision and 24.8.2016 in Review Petition passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla. The main question which was arising in OM PRAKASH VS SURESH KUMAR was that whether the statement made by the counsel representing the parties will be binding on them or not.

So basically this case was for eviction proceeding because of the reconstruction of building by the landlord who is appellant. Now during the hearing of the civil revision petition, the learned counsel for the respondent­ tenant had urged before the High Court that the tenant was ready and willing to handover possession of the suit premises subject to the landlord agreeing to re­induct him as a tenant in an equivalent area occupied by him in the suit building.

In response to the said submission, the learned counsel appearing for the present appellant, unequivocally, stated before the High Court that the appellant was not averse to the offer so made by the tenant. During this period of revision, petition appellant changed his advocate and urged in the high court that he had never instructed his counsel to make such statement before the Court regarding re­induction of the respondent tenant in the newly constructed shop.

The court has given its view that during this time of pendency of case a small area needs to be reserved for the tenant and it would be later decided whether the tenant is allowed to be in possession of area or not. The court has given its view that the appellant cannot now be allowed to resile from the statement made before the High Court, which the High Court justly declined to undo in the review petition filed by the appellant for that purpose.

The court said that the case of Himalayan Coop. Group Housing Society(supra) will be of no avail to the appellant. Inasmuch as, it is not a case where the counsel, who made the statement was not engaged by the appellant before the High Court. The engagement was in respect of eviction proceedings and the statement was in relation to the commitment of the appellant qua the subject matter thereof and being an unequivocal statement, it will be binding on the appellant.

The court while giving decision has put emphasis on the fact that 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 statement which would directly surrender or conclude the substantial legal rights of the client unless such 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.

The court ordered the appellant to reinduct the respondent in the front portion, and measuring 3.73 meters x 7.57 meters and the leftover rear portion can be used by the appellant for providing access to upper floors