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Tenjerla Suryanarayana Vs. Prabhala Subbayya - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContract
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1918Mad504(1); 42Ind.Cas.911; (1917)33MLJ724
AppellantTenjerla Suryanarayana
RespondentPrabhala Subbayya
Cases Referred and Philby v. Hazle
Excerpt:
- - such conduct might very possibly afford good ground for his immediate dismissal, and the fact that in this case the vakil does not object to his clerk's adopting this course in this and other cases, far from making the case any better, opens out a fresh vista of undesirable possibilities,'and only makes it the more incumbent on us to interfere for the protection of clients by refusing to enforce such agreements as contrary to public policy......to enforce contracts with clients irrespectively of the consideration whether they conformed to public policy or not. barristers cannot sue at all for their fees, and the fees which barrister's clerks receive by custom according to a fixed scale are mere gratuities and cannot be sued for though they are recognized on taxation, ex parte cotton (1848) 9 beav 107. solicitors' charges are now the subject of legislative enactment in england resembling the provisions in the legal practitioners act as to charging more than the regulation fees. but even before these enactments, such agreements were jealously scrutinized and required to conform to the dictates of public policy. in pomfret v. murray (1740) 9 m. 231 speaking of a novel stipulation by an attorney who was also a trustee, lord.....
Judgment:

Wallis, C.J.

1. The agreement in question, is one by which a litigant binds himself to pay his Vakil's clerk Es. 20 for giving special attention to legal business which the Vakil was bound to see to in consideration of his fee. The revised translation makes it clear that this is the scope of the agreement. The law has never allowed legal practitioners of any kind to enforce contracts with clients irrespectively of the consideration whether they conformed to public policy or not. Barristers cannot sue at all for their fees, and the fees which barrister's clerks receive by custom according to a fixed scale are mere gratuities and cannot be sued for though they are recognized on taxation, Ex parte Cotton (1848) 9 Beav 107. Solicitors' charges are now the subject of legislative enactment in England resembling the provisions in the Legal Practitioners Act as to charging more than the regulation fees. But even before these enactments, such agreements were jealously scrutinized and required to conform to the dictates of public policy. In Pomfret v. Murray (1740) 9 M. 231 speaking of a novel stipulation by an attorney who was also a trustee, Lord Hardwicke said, ' This is a case of great consequence; and it is incumbent on the Court to proceed warily before they allow such a demand, ' an observation which appears to me to be peculiarly applicable to the present case. In Saunderson v. Glass (1742) 2 Atk. 296 the same great Judge observed, ' It is truly said at the bar, that a security obtained by an attorney, whilst he is doing business for his client, or whilst a cause is depending, appears to this Court in a quite different light than between two common persons; for if an attorney, pendente lite, prevails upon a client to agree to an exorbitant reward, the Court will either set it aside entirely, or reduce it to the standard of those fees to which he is properly entitled;...and if the Court did not observe such a rule it would expose clients very much to the artifices.' See also Drax v. Scroope (1831) 2 B. Ad. 581 : 109 E.R. 1259 and Philby v. Hazle (1860) 8 C.B.N.S. 647 where Erie, C.J., and Wiliams and Byles, JJ., all speak of agreements by solicitors of the kind there in question as being in the words of Williams, J., manifestly ' contrary to the general policy of the law'. It is clear then that we shall be introducing no new law if we apply the test of public policy to agreements of the character now sued on. We have not been referred to any case in England in which a solicitor's clerk has stipulated with his employer's client for remuneration for giving special attention to his business. Such conduct might very possibly afford good ground for his immediate dismissal, and the fact that in this case the Vakil does not object to his clerk's adopting this course in this and other cases, far from making the case any better, opens out a fresh vista of undesirable possibilities,' and only makes it the more incumbent on us to interfere for the protection of clients by refusing to enforce such agreements as contrary to public policy. 1 would allow the appeal and dismiss the suit with costs throughout.

Ayling, J.

2. I concur.

Kumaraswami Sastri, J.

3. I agree.


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