Harrington was pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania but his learning was terminated by the institution for failure to pay tuition fees. Because of this, Harrington sued the institution for failure to honour the contract between him and the institution. He argued that a deal between him and the institution was reached where he was to offer services to the university in exchange for the tuition fee. Contrary, the university countersued him for failure to pay past tuition fees. However, the parties’ attorneys requested the court to allow the matter be solved outside the court (Cretacci, 35).
Harrington’s attorney went ahead and informed the university’s attorney that his client had approved the ultimate plan while also notifying the court that both parties had come into a consensus. Afterwards, Harrington declined the final settlement and challenged the authority of his attorney to settle the case on his behalf. However, the trial court refused to honour his argument thus propelling him to appeal against the ruling.
Is an attorney justified in settling a lawsuit without the authority of a client?
Yes, the attorney to Harrington was justified in making the settlement concord, thus making the agreement enforceable against Harrington. Consequently, the decision by the lower court to restore the case is acknowledged.
The court’s ruling is based on two precedents, Rothman and Manzitti. In both instances, the court was to the view that the client was under the authority of the attorney thus had no say over the decisions made by him on behalf of the client. This is so when the third party fails to understand the reason for the attorneys’ lack of actual authority. In case the attorney decides to settle a dispute without the client’s consent, both the client and the third party are innocent although one will have to suffer (Cretacci, 50). The court’s ruling is based on several reasons. First, the client has put the attorney in an awkward position where they are to deal with the wrongs in the society.
According to the court, the university was free from blame. Secondly, it believed the Harrington’s attorney had the power to communicate and settle the dispute. Third, it held the view that Harrington’ lawyer was accorded the power to settle the case with the University on his behalf. Lastly, the legislation discourages the notion that attorneys settle a dispute minus the client’s request thus there is a provision that punishes such actions (Cretacci, 200).
First, the court relied on the notion that settling disputes outside the court minimizes congestion of cases and should be promoted. It eliminates some risks connected with settlement agreement hence more efficient. Secondly, the court never established whether Harrington had requested the attorney to settle the dispute on his behalf although the decision relies on noticeable authority rather than authentic power. Third, the ruling by the court is essential since most people believe that attorneys are permitted by clients to settle disputes on their behalf. Lastly, the court makes a mistake by supposing that one’s attorney acts properly within his authority but in some instances it turns out to be the reverse.
Cretacci, Michael. Supreme Court Case Briefs in Criminal Procedure. Maryland: Rowman &
Littlefied Publishers Inc, 2007. Print.