Q&As

Can a solicitor execute a contract on behalf of a client?

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Produced in partnership with Peter Steel of Augury Consulting
Published on LexisPSL on 04/06/2019

The following Commercial Q&A Produced in partnership with Peter Steel of Augury Consulting provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can a solicitor execute a contract on behalf of a client?

The normal principles of agency apply to solicitors so that, where authorised to do so, a solicitor agent will have the power to bind their client to a contract. If they are not authorised or the relevant act is outside the scope of the relevant authority, the contract will not be binding upon the client. See Practice Notes: Nature and types of agency and Agent and principal relationships with third parties.

Authority may be general or limited to specific matters. No particular formalities are required but it is advisable to use a written agreement. The most common types of authority are:

  1. actual (express or implied)

  2. apparent (or ostensible)

See Practice Notes: Scope and authority of the agent and Forming enforceable contracts—agent's authority to contract.

Where authority is actual and express this may be as a result of a consensual agreement between the solicitor and client to which only they are parties which could take a variety of forms:

  1. retainer—the retainer might authorise a solicitor to act as the client’s agent in certain circumstances. Retainers typically may include authorisation to incur expenses in conducting the work under the engagement or to contract with barristers, other solicitors and agents. Such authority could be extended to include executing a contract or contracts on behalf of a client. However, given the required Chapter 1 outcomes i

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