The Kerala High Court on 28 March 2022 held that if an advocate is authorized by client to conduct the case then he is empowered to file a joint Vakalat along with junior Counsel for client.
Background of the case:
A plea in Kerala HC was moved by an advocate who was seeking a direction by court to Airport Director and Airport Authority of India to give him his professional fees which was Rs 337514/- within a time frame. This fee was certified by the sub court.
The petitioner appeared for Airport Authority of India before the sub court and the case was decided in June 2015. But when the petitioner sent his bill of professional charges to Airport Authority of India, they said that the bill can only be settled after AAI realizes the money through execution proceedings.
When petitioner argued with Airport Authority of India that fee of an advocate cannot be on basis of outcome of the litigation then the AAI transferred only Rs 15000/-. The AAI claimed that this amount is as per the prevailing panel advocate fee. After this the petitioner lawyer sent a notice to demand remaining amount of money from AAI but to no avail.
In Kerala HC:
The respondent advocate V. Santharam on behalf of AAI argued in Kerala HC that the writ petition was not maintainable since there was no violation of any constitutional or legal right. Further AAI argued that respondent filed a joint Vakalat along with another advocate Mini Mathew without prior consent of Airport Authority of India and the statement of costs which petitioner gave to AAI certified that they had received senior as well as junior fee. Because of these AAI claim to have no liability to pay the advocate.
After hearing the case the court observed that the vakalatnama executed by respondent gives authority to petitioner to do all necessary to conduct and prosecute the case which in itself includes seeking any assistance of a junior lawyer if needed. This authorization includes filing joint vakaltnama along with junior lawyer.
Justice N. Nagaresh observed that if the legal fee which is payable is decided without consulting the client the client then is not liable tom pay the fee but the certification of receipt of fee by the lawyer will not disentitle him to get his due fees.
The court ordered the AAI to clear the outstanding dues to advocate as they have only given him Rs 15000 because there was no prior express agreement on the amount to be paid. The court held that the Airport Authority of India was liable to pay the fee prescribed in appropriate Rules regarding Fees payable to advocate which is framed by this court. The AAI was directed to compute the fees payable as per the Rules and to pay it within one month.