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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Power of Attorney (PoA) - nice FAQ

As a Power of Attorney may relate to substantial
monetary dealings, clarity on the nature of the
document is vital

— Photo: H. Vibhu

Care and caution: A Power of Attorney becomes an
important document in property transaction.

A Power of Attorney, especially, when relating to real
estate transactions, is a very important document. As
it may relate to substantial monetary dealings,
clarity on the nature of the document is vital. Many
queries have also been raised with regard to the Power
of Attorney. Attempt is made to address these issues
in this FAQ.

1.What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document under which one
person known as "Principal" or "Donor" grants an
authority to another person, known as "Agent",
"Attorney" or "Donee" to do or undertake the acts,
deeds and things specified in the document, on behalf
of the Principal or Donor.

2.What are the various types of Powers of Attorney?

There are many types of Powers of Attorney. A broad
classification would be General Powers of Attorney and
Special Powers of Attorney. A General Power of
Attorney confers substantial powers for effecting the
transactions contemplated. A Special Power of
Attorney, on the other hand, is given for specific
purposes only and is often restrictive in scope.

3.What are the ingredients for grant of a valid Power
of Attorney?

The Principal and the Agent must be competent to
contract. It has to be given voluntarily. The Power of
Attorney should be given for legal purposes. It must
be duly stamped, notarised or registered or
adjudicated, as the case may be. Powers of Attorney
executed abroad may also be authenticated by a
Consulate Officer. Minors and other persons
disqualified by law cannot grant a Power of Attorney.
There are certain acts which can be done only by the
persons concerned. For these acts, Powers of Attorney
cannot be granted.

4.What are the acts which can be done only by persons
concerned, referred to above?

These are acts which a person concerned alone can
perform. For example, take the case of a singer or a
musician contracting to perform. The performance has
to be given by the singer or musician only and
obviously cannot be performed by a Power of Attorney.
This is an extreme example to give a broad idea as to
what the personal acts can be. There are any number of
such matters which are to be performed or executed by
person concerned only.

5.Is registration of Power of Attorney mandatory for
exercising the powers?

A Special Power of Attorney under which the Principal
authorizes the Agent to present for registration, a
document executed by the Principal has to be
compulsorily registered. In other cases, it is
sufficient if the power is notarised or authenticated
by an Indian Consul or Vice Consul or by a Court,
Judge or Magistrate. However, in respect of local
Powers of Attorney, it is advisable to have the same
registered as notarization or authentication may not
meet market acceptance.

6. Can a Company grant a Power of Attorney?

If so authorised by its Memorandum and Articles of
Association, a Company can grant a valid Power of

7.Can a Partnership Firm grant a Power of Attorney?

This can be given. Subject to the terms contained in
the Partnership Deed, it may be binding on all
partners, if given by one of the partners.

8.What are the important features of a Power of

One would have noticed that in matters relating to
commercial transactions, there is usually a payment or
passing of consideration. For a Power of Attorney to
be valid, no consideration is required. Further, many
documents would be irrevocable in nature. However, a
Power of Attorney can be normally revoked.

9.Is there a type of Power of Attorney called
"Irrevocable Power of Attorney"?

As already stated, normally a Power of Attorney can be
revoked. In matters where the Agent has acquired an
interest, the Power of Attorney is known as a power
coupled with interest and cannot be revoked without
the express consent of the Agent. This is an usual
parlance referred to as an "Irrevocable Power of
Attorney". In certain cases, the Power of Attorney may
amount to a conveyance and these Powers of Attorney
can also be brought within the ambit of Irrevocable
Powers of Attorney.

10.How are the wordings in a Power of Attorney

This depends on the clarity of the wordings employed.
The general construction is that the Agent is
empowered to do or undertake only acts which are
clearly authorised. However, certain incidental powers
can be inferred to give effect to the terms contained
in the Power of Attorney. If the Power of Attorney
confers power of sale, then it can be inferred that it
includes necessary powers for completing the sale
transaction. In the same case, though the Agent may
have the power to sell, the Agent, unless,
specifically authorised, will not be entitled to
mortgage the property.

12.What are the matters to be noted in respect of
Powers of Attorney executed abroad?

The Power of Attorney can be executed in a green sheet
or a white sheet and stamped or adjudicated, within
three months after receipt in India. It has to be
authenticated by an Indian Consul, Vice Consul or a

In many cases, the Power of Attorney executed abroad
is sent with only last page signed by the Principal.
This practice is not desirable and every page has to
be signed by the Principal. This will save a lot of
time and avoid unnecessary delay and expense.

13.While dealing with an immovable property, is it
sufficient only to take a Power of Attorney
containing, among other powers, the power to sell?

Considering that the nature of the Power of Attorney
is such that it can be revoked, it is advisable to
back this Power of Attorney with a proper Agreement.
This will be give better rights in matters relating to
commercial dealings.

14.What the general precautions to be taken while
granting a power?

Please check the wordings. Understand the
implications. If the Power of Attorney contains power
to mortgage, one has to exclude personal liabilities
wherever the intention is not to undertake such
personal liabilities. Try and get periodical feedback
from the Agent. If you are revoking the power,
consider all the facts and circumstances and the
impact that this may cause before venturing into this.

15.What are the general precautions to be taken while
acting as an Agent?

Understand the scope of the power. Note that you are
actually acting on behalf of somebody else and protect
the interest of the Principals. Do not exceed the
powers granted under the document. Provide periodical
feedback to the Principal. Get necessary further
documentation to ensure that the Agent does not suffer
on account of unexpected revocation. In case of death
of Principal, act promptly to obtain suitable
documentation to cover the situation. If possible, get
periodical confirmations of the validity of the power.
Powers of Attorney, especially those covering
commercial transactions, are intended for short
durations and keeping the powers unused for a long
time may not be in the best interest of the Agent.

The author is Partner, RANK Associates, Advocates.


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