Syria’s Civil Code, issued under Legislative Decree No. 84 of 1949, regulates the provisions of power of attorney, which is known as the judicial power of attorney, arranged by a person known as the principal before the notary for another person, known as the agent.
The agent, under this power of attorney, can visit all departments, such as the Land Registry and the financial department in their governorate, to perform activities and behaviours that have legal effects on the rights and obligations of the principal, such as buying, selling or renting property, receiving a salary, and more. The judicial power of attorney is different from the legal power of attorney that a person undergoes exclusively for a lawyer before a representative of the Lawyers’ Union to conduct a lawsuit on behalf of the principal before the courts.
The judicial power of attorney is divided into two types:
First is the general power of attorney. The principle is that it does not empower the agent to perform transactions with the principal’s assets, such as selling or relinquishing rights or acknowledgment. Article 667 of the Civil Code stated that the power of attorney mentioned in general terms with no specification for the type of legal work does not empower the agent to do anything but usual management tasks only. These tasks include renting property owned by the principal for fewer than three years, collecting receivables, repaying debts and other transactions required by administrative tasks, such as selling crops or goods prone to damage. Thus, the legal concept of the general power of attorney mentioned in general terms is confined to management tasks rather than transactions.
However, a printed form under the title “general power of attorney” issued by the Ministry of Justice has become widespread and encompasses all kinds of transactions and management. This includes the authority to sell and buy assets in all their types, such as movable and immovable properties. This power of attorney is authenticated before the notary as a general power of attorney that gives the agent the right to handle all the principal’s assets. This has made the matter somewhat ambiguous. But, the jurisprudence of the Court of Cassation has settled that consideration here takes into account not the form of the power of attorney, but rather what it includes in terms of the type of transaction, such as selling, or in terms of its location such as specifying the property’s number. So, if the power of attorney does not include the type of transaction, it is a general power of attorney for administrative tasks only.
However, if it does specify the type of transaction without specifying its location, then the power of attorney is specific in the type of transaction and general in its location. In this regard, the Court of Cassation stated in its Decision No. 2049 of 1998 that as long as the power of attorney with this quality has both a general and specific nature, the agent is not accused of exceeding the boundaries and breadth of the power of attorney.
The General Authority of the Syrian Court of Cassation, the highest Syrian judicial reference, confirmed in its Decision No. 71 of 2002 the rule of possibility of determining the type of transaction in the power of attorney without specifying its location. Therefore, the power of attorney is considered specific in the type of transaction and general in its location, regardless of the form of the power of attorney. Thus, the general power of attorney that included a clause on the sale without specifying the type of property is valid from a legal point of view and enables the agent to make transactions with the principal’s assets.
Second is specific power of attorney, which is the power of attorney that specifies the legal acts required, which could include, for example, managing assets on behalf of the principal, conducting paperwork required by law, and collecting pensions and salaries on behalf of the principal, and others. This means this power of attorney is more specific to the type of work intended to be carried out. The principle is that transactional tasks like selling, donating, and mortgaging require a specific power of attorney, and it is sufficient to determine the legal transactions without specifying their location. Meaning, the specific power of attorney is considered correct if it included selling without specifying the location of the sale, according to Article 668 of the Civil Code.
In principle, all powers of attorney, no matter their classifications, are revocable. That is, the principal can dismiss the agent and terminate or restrict the power of attorney at any time. Unless the specific power of attorney included a clause in its body indicating that it was issued for the benefit of the agent, or for the benefit of another, then in this case only it becomes an irrevocable specific power of attorney. Here, the principal cannot terminate the power of attorney or dismiss the agent without the consent of the person for whose benefit it was issued, according to Article 681/2 of the Civil Code. Therefore, we find that all powers of attorney for property sales issued by the notary rely on the text of Article 681/2, as they render the power of attorney irrevocable, and as a definitive sale certified with an official document.