Lawyers practising law in Texas courts are undoubtedly familiar with the Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 11, commonly referred to as the “Rule 11 Agreement.” The section 11 agreement can apply to many aspects of an appeal, from extending the time limit for objection and response to written investigations, to more complex billing conditions. Since the parties can reach an agreement under Rule 11 on virtually any aspect of the process, it is essential to fully and accurately understand the right steps to reach a Rule 11 agreement – and to enforce an agreement after an infringement. The rule makes sense. If lawyers disagree on who said what or the terms of an agreement, a judge should not have to rule. Honest people often remember details differently. Without a letter, people could understand the details differently by the time the agreement is reached. In conversation, the details can be brilliant or ignored to avoid tension. Over time, memories can change. Can a party revoke its consent to a section 11 agreement? Maybe.
As decided in ExxonMobil Corp. against Valencia Operating Co., a party may revoke its consent to a Rule 11 agreement at any time prior to the judgment. However, even in this case, a court is not prevented from applying an Article 11 agreement as soon as the agreement has been rejected by one of the parties. A lawyer could agree to let the client deal with it. In the absence of a Rule 11 agreement, there will be no way to enforce it. If the lawyer has signed and contains the essential conditions, it is enforceable. If you are not prepared to accept the risk of losing an agreement in a lawsuit, put it in writing and leave it signed, even if it is handwritten or emailed with typed signatures. “Unless otherwise stated by these rules, no agreement is reached between lawyers or parties affecting a pending action, unless it is written, signed and filed with the documents that are part of the protocol, or if it is not entered into open court and entered into the record.” The written and signed agreement minimizes memory and credibility problems.