Tags

Munster was being sued for malicious prosecution. He was on the way to court by train when his barrister settled the case on terms adverse to him. He applied to set aside the compromise agreement.

Bowen LJ said (page 144),

Counsel is clothed in his retainer with complete authority over the suit, the mode of conducting it, and all that is incident to it and this I understood by the opposite party. It has been frequently discussed…whether counsel can be called the agent of his client but on this it is sufficient to say that even if he is called an agent he is not one in the ordinary sense, but has a particular authority…What is to be done if the client is in Court? Is it the duty of counsel to consult  him? I should say – yes, with regard to important matters in which the client has an interest…in the present case the client was not present and cannot complain if his counsel, who was in command and had authority to do the best for his client, compromised the suit within the reasonable limits of his authority to compromise.

This reading is of historic interest. The BSB Code of Conduct (contained in the BSB Handbook) now governs the ethical behaviour of barristers.

Advertisements