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Power of Attorney Facts

By : P.V.Poornima on 04 March 2008 Report Abuse Print Print this
 



 

I. What is a Power of Attorney ?

 

(a) Definition :

 

(1) According to S. 1A of the Powers of Attorney Act, 1882 (‘POA Act’) a power of attorney includes any instrument empowering a specified person to act for and in the name of the person executing it.

 

(2) Power of Attorney is also defined under S. 2(21) the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 (‘Indian Stamp Act’) according to which — ‘Power of attorney’ includes any instrument (not chargeable with a fee under the law relating to the Court fees for the time being in force) empowering a specified person to act for and in the name of the person executing it.

 

(b) Power of Attorney as an Agency :

 

(1) A power of attorney is a delegation of authority in writing by which one person is empowered to do an act in the name of the other. The person who acts on behalf of another person (the principal) by his authority, express or implied, is called an agent and the relation between him and his principal is called agency.

 

(2) A power of attorney holder is nothing but an agent as defined in S. 182 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (‘Contract Act’). The authority of an agent is his power to affect his principal’s position by doing acts on his behalf. Actual authority is the legal relationship between the principal and agent created by a consensual agreement to which they alone are parties.

 

(3) A power of attorney is a document of convenience. Where circumstances require appoint-ing an agent formally to act for the principal in a particular transaction, or a series of transactions, or to manage the affairs of the principal generally, the necessary authority is conferred by a power of attorney.

 

(4) In typical commercial transactions, a power of attorney may also purport to act as security to enable the security holder to exercise the powers conferred on him, which would be difficult for the donor to perform at a subsequent time. This subsequent nature of a power of attorney is dealt with herein. II.

 

Termination of a Power of Attorney :

 

(a) Generally speaking, a power of attorney can be terminated or cancelled by the principal by revoking his authority or by the power of attorney holder renouncing his authority.

 

(b) According to S. 201 of the Contract Act, an agency can be terminated by the principal by revoking his authority or by the agent renouncing his authority, unless such revocation is prohibited under S. 202 of the Contract Act (quoted herein-below). S. 201 of the Contract Act also states that an agency terminates, inter alia, by death of principal or agent.

 

(c) Now, the questions that arise are whether a power of attorney can be irrevocable in nature, and, whether an irrevocable power of attorney granted would terminate on death of a donor ? In such an event, would the security holder under a power of attorney, cease to hold such security in the event the donor dies ? III. When does a power of attorney become irrevocable ?

 

(a) Legal provisions :

 

(1) The POA Act does not state when a power of attorney is irrevocable. However, in various commercial transactions, a donor gives an irrevocable power of attorney, on contractual basis, to secure the interest of the donee of the power.

 

(2) Under S. 4 of the (English) Powers of Attorney Act, 1971 a power of attorney is irrevocable if it is expressed to be so and is given to secure :

 

(i) a proprietary interest of the donee of the power; or

 

(ii) the performance of an obligation owed to the donee. Then, so long as the donee has the interest or the obligation remaining undischarged, the power cannot be revoked by the donor without the consent of the donee, or by death, incapacity, insolvency, winding up or dissolution of the donor.

 

(3) Illustration :

 

In a typical Mumbai scenario, where redevelopment of property is common, A, being the owner of a piece of land over which he resides, gives B, a developer, an irrevocable power of attorney to develop such land and ultimately transfer the same in favour of a Society or Condominium or such Association of Persons. Such a power of attorney is given for a valuable consideration. In the event A dies whilst the property is in the process of being redeveloped, such an irrevocable power of attorney granted by A to B cannot be revoked or terminated and B is entitled to complete such redevelopment.

 

(4) Where a power of attorney is given for a valuable consideration and expressed to be irrevocable, or is given to secure a proprietary interest of the donee of the power, or the performance of an obligation owed to the donee, then, so long as the donee has that interest, or the obligation remains undischarged, the power is irrevocable.

 

(b) Authority coupled with interest :

 

(1) S. 202 of the Contract Act lays down the rule that ‘authority coupled with interest is irrevocable’.

 

(2) S. 202 of the Contract Act states that "where the agent has himself an interest in the property which forms the subject matter of the agency, the agency cannot, in the absence of an express contract, be terminated to the prejudice of such interest."

 

(3) Illustrations :

 

(a) A gives authority to B to sell A’s land, and to pay himself out of the proceeds, the debts due to him from A. A cannot revoke this authority, nor can it be terminated by his insanity or death.

 

(b) A consigns 1,000 bales of cotton to B, who has made advances to him on such cotton, and desires B to sell the cotton, and to repay himself out of the price the amount of his own advances. A cannot revoke this authority, nor can it be terminated by his insanity or death.

 

(4) In the aforesaid illustrations, authority is given for the purpose of being a security for a debt, therefore it is irrevocable.

 

(5) Where the authority of an agent is given by deed, or for valuable consideration, for the purpose of effectuating any security, or of protecting or securing any interest of the agent, it is irrevocable during the subsistence of such security or interest.

 

(6) To make the authority irrevocable, the agent must have an interest in the property which forms the subject matter of the agency. Where the agent has himself an interest in the property which forms the subject matter of the agency, the agency cannot, in the absence of any express contract, be terminated to the prejudice of such interest.

 

(7) The mere fact that a power is declared in the instrument granting it to be irrevocable, does not make it irrevocable.

 

(8) The exceptional case dealt with here is that in which the authority or power is coupled with an interest in the thing on which power is to be exercised.

 

(9) Instead of the words ‘authority coupled with an interest’ used in the English and American systems of law, the Section contains the words ‘the agent has himself an interest in the subject mater of the agency.’ Under the English law, what is meant by an authority coupled with an interest is this — that where an agreement is entered into on a sufficient consideration, whereby an authority is given for the purpose of securing some benefit to the donee of the authority, such an authority is irrevocable. [Clerk v. Laurie, 2 H & N 199].

 

(10) In Prahlad v. T. F. Kumari, AIR 1956 Pat 233 where, under a document drawn in the form of a power of attorney, a lady agreed that the debts raised by X for her should be realised out of the collections of a particular estate and the effect of the document though not described as one of agency was to create an agency in favour of X, it was held that the agency was one coupled with an interest and therefore irrevocable and in substance amounted to an allocation of the funds to be appropriated towards the repayment of the debts.

 

(11) Similarly, when an agent is employed to enter into any contract, or do any other lawful act involving personal liability, or is expressly or impliedly authorised to discharge such liability on behalf of the principal, the authority becomes irrevocable as soon as the liability is incurred by the agent [Read v. Anderson, (1884) 13 QBD 779], and where an agent is authorised to pay money on behalf of his principal to a third person, the authority becomes irrevocable as soon as the agent enters into a contract, or otherwise becomes bound to pay or hold such money to or to the use of such person [Robertson v. Fauntleroy, (1823) 8 Moore 10].

 

(12) So, where a principal and agent agree for valuable consideration or under a seal that the agent is to have authority, for example, to collect rents in order to secure a loan [Spooner v. Sandilands, (1848) I Y & C. Ch. 390], or to sell certain land and to discharge a debt owed to him by the principal out of the purchase money [Gaussen v. Morton, (1830) IO B & C 731], the principal thereby confers an interest on the agent, and the agency cannot be revoked unilaterally.

 

(13) As decided in Pestanji Mancharji Wadia v. Matchett, (1870) 7 BHC AC 10, where an agent is authorised to recover a sum of money due from a third party to the principal, and to pay himself out of the amount so recovered the debts due to him from the principal, the agent has an interest in the subject matter of the agency, and the authority cannot be revoked.

 

(14) Illustration : A owes B a certain sum of money. A authorises B to recover from C, the rent which C owes A, and to pay himself (B) out of the rent recovered, the debts due to him from A. Such an authority cannot be revoked by A, because such authority confers an interest on B.

 

(15) So also a vendor promoter of a company, who is to be paid a commission out of the money raised by the issue of shares, has a clear and direct interest in raising the capital. An underwriter who promises to buy a certain number of shares from the promoter and authorises him to make the necessary application, cannot revoke the authority, this being an authority coupled with interest. [Carmichael’s case (1896) 2 Ch. 643]

 

(16) "If a borrower, in consideration of a loan, authorises the lender to receive the rents of Blackacres by way of security, the authority remains irrevocable until repayment of the loan in full has been effected. This doctrine applies only where the authority is created in order to protect the interest of the agent; it does not extend to a case where the authority is given for some other reason and the interest of the agent arises later." [Cheshire on the Law of Contracts, 6th Ed.]

 

(17) Illustration :

 

A (lender) has given B (borrower) a certain loan. As a security for repayment of the loan, B authorises A to receive all the rent which B is entitled to — arising out of a certain property owned by B — until such loan is repayed by B to A. Such an authority created to protect the interest of A, is irrevocable.

 

(18) Further, the principle applies only to cases where authority is given for the purpose of being a security or a part of the security, and not to cases where the interest of the donee arises afterwards and incidentally. In such cases there is no authority coupled with an interest; but an independent authority, and an interest subsequently arising [Garapati Venkanna v. Mallupudi Atchuta-ramanna, AIR 1938 Mad. 542].

 

(19) However, it is pertinent to note that mere right to remuneration or commission does not constitute an agency coupled with interest.

 

(20) For example, the agents for the sale of cloth who are entitled to keep for themselves any excess over rates that they might secure from purchases have no interest in the property to be sold or in the sale proceeds thereof, so as to attract S. 202 of the Contract Act [Dalchand v. Seth Hazarimal, AIR 1932 Nag. 34].

 

(21) In another Bombay case, it was held that the mere fact that the salary of an agent collecting rents was to be paid out of the collections, did not create an interest sufficient to make the authority irrevocable [Vishnucharya v. Ramachandra, ILR 3 Bom. 253].

 

(22) For instance, as held in Lakshmichand Ramchand v. Chotooram Motiram, (1900) 24 Bom. 403, the interest which the agent has in effecting a sale and the prospect of remuneration to arise therefrom, do not constitute such an interest as would prevent the termination of the agency.

 

(23) If any such interest were to be created for the benefit of the agent, it should be contem-poraneously provided for in the instrument of agency itself and should not only be express but also be explicit. It should not give any room for doubt, nor could it be a matter of interpretation. An agency to be irrevocable should therefore create in the agent an interest in the subject matter contemporaneously with the document wherein such agency is created and it cannot be left to chance or guess or inference.

 

(24) In Corporation Bank v. Lalitha H Holla, AIR 1994 Kant. 133, held : the fact whether the power of attorney is given for securing the interest of the agent, can be ascertained from the facts de hors the express terms of the contract.

 

(25) In Kondayya Chetti v. Narasimhulu Chetti, (1986) 20 Mad. 97, held : The interest of the agent in the subject matter of the agency may be inferred from the language of the document creating the agency, and from the course of the dealings between the parties, it need not be expressly given. It is the existence of the interest and not the mode in which it is given, that is of importance.

 

(26) In Mariyakutty v. Chalandian Bank Ltd., AIR 1957 TC 174, the hypothecation deed showed that the shares and the right to the dividends on the same were all charged for the amount borrowed. It was further stipulated that as long as the debt was in existence, the pledgee was authorised to receive directly from the bank any dividend declared and appropriate the same towards interest. It was held that these words clearly created an agency in favour of the pledgee in view of the hypothecation deed which clearly authorised the pledgee to represent the owner of shares with regard to receipt of dividends from the bank, and that the agency created was one contemplated in S. 202, and could not be determined at the instance of the principal alone. IV. Whether an irrevocable power of attorney would terminate on death of donor ?

 

(a) Indian Law :

 

(1) The Supreme Court of India, in the case of Seth Loon Karan Sethiya v. Ivan E. John, AIR 1969 SC 73, held : where the agent has himself an interest in the property which forms the subject matter of the agency, the agency cannot, in the absence of an express contract, be terminated to the prejudice of such interest. It is settled law that where the agency is created for valuable consideration and authority is given to effectuate a security or to secure interest of the agent, the authority cannot be revoked.

 

(b) English Law :

 

(1) According to S. 4(1) of the (English) Powers of Attorney Act, 1971 a power of attorney is irrevocable if it is expressed to be so and is given to secure :

 

(i) a proprietary interest of the donee of the power; or

 

(ii) the performance of an obligation owed to the donee. Then, so long as the donee has the interest or the obligation remaining undischarged, the power cannot be revoked by the donor without the consent of the donee, or by death, incapacity, insolvency, winding up or dissolution of the donor.

 

(2) According to S. 126 of the (English) Law of Property Act, 1925 (15 & 16 Geo. V, c.20) Powers of attorney, which are given for a valuable consideration and which are stated in the instrument creating them to be irrevocable, cannot be revoked at any time either by any thing done by the donor of the power without the concurrence of the donee, or by the death, disability, or bankruptcy of the donor of the power. Any purported revocation will be ineffective both as regards the donee and a purchaser for value.

 

(3) Adopting the classical statement of the rule given by Wilde, C.J. in Smart v. Sandars, (1848) 5 CB 895, 917, Bowstead on the Law of Agency, 14th Edition, page 423, states as follows : ]

 

"(i) Where the authority of an agent is given by deed or for valuable consideration, for the purpose of effectuating any security, or of protecting or securing any interest of the agent, it is irrevocable during the subsistence of such security or interest. But it is not irrevocable merely because the agent has an interest in the exercise of it or has a special property in, or lien for advances upon, the subject matter of it, the authority not being given expressly for the purpose of securing such interest or advances :

 

(ii) Where a power of attorney whenever created is expressed to be irrevocable and is given to secure a proprietary interest of the donee of the power, or the performance of an obligation owed to the donee, then, so long as the donee has that interest, or the obligation remains undischarged, the power is irrevocable;

 

(iii) Authority expressed by this article to be irrevocable is not determined by the death, insanity or bankruptcy of the principal, nor . . . where the principal is an incorporated company, by its winding or dissolution, and cannot be revoked by the principal without the consent of the agent."

 

V. Conclusion :

 

What emerges from the above is that an irrevocable power of attorney creating an agency, wherein the agent (the donee) has an interest in the property and which forms the subject matter of such agency created for valuable consideration, the agency cannot be terminated to the prejudice of such interest, unless there is an express contract to the contrary. It can, therefore, be inferred that an irrevocable power of attorney granted in relation to a subject matter in which the donee has an interest, cannot be revoked by the donor, nor can it be terminated by the death, unsoundness of mind or insolvency of the donor to prejudice such interest created by the donor in favour of the donee.

 


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10 Comments for this Article



Nitin Patel

Nitin Patel

Wrote on 23 October 2012

I had some doubt regarding the extent of power conferred through POA registered with Sub-registrar and have asked the DM / Collector as to whether he is empowered to throw light on extent of power conferred through POA registered at his office. Please guide



Nitin Patel

Nitin Patel

Wrote on 23 October 2012

Great help but what about interpretation of the extent of powers conferred. it is noted that sub-registrars are incompetent to gauge the extent of powers conferred and leave scope for fraudulent transfers of property not within the scope of POA



bhuushan bankar

bhuushan bankar

Wrote on 17 December 2010

kindly forward me some judgement of HC or SC where the irrevocable POA survives even after the death of the agent(developer) principal(land owner) thnks












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