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LEGAL ETHICS Digest Pool

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DIGESTS FOR OCTOBER 29, 2012
CANON 18
Solatan v Inocentes, 466 SCRA 1 (LANCION)

Spouses Garcia v Atty. Bala, AC No. 5039, Nov. 25, 2005 (SUPAPO)
FACTS:

Spouses Eduardo and Teresita Garcia filed a complaint against Atty. Bala for his failure in
rendering legal service contracted.

According to the findings of Investigating IBP Commissioner Herbosa, complainants engaged
the services of respondent (sometime in May 1998) to appeal to the CA the adverse
Decision of the Department of Agrarian Relations Adjudication Board (DARAB). Instead,
he erroneously filed a Notice of Appeal with the DARAB. Under Rule 43 of the Rules of
Court, appeals from the decisions of the DARAB should be filed with the CA through a verified
petition for review. Because of respondents error, the prescribed period for filing the petition
lapsed, to the prejudice of his clients.

Furthermore, Atty. Bala refused to the return the money paid by Spouses Garcia.

Thus, the IBP recommended the respondent should be reprimanded and suspended from the
practice of law for six months; and that he should return, within thirty days from his receipt of
the Decision, the amount of P9,200, with legal interest from the filing of the present Complaint
with this Court.

ISSUE:

WON Atty. Bala is guilty of negligence and conduct unbecoming a lawyer.

HELD:

Yes.

Negligence for Wrong Remedy

The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates lawyers to serve their clients with
competence and diligence. Rule 18.02 states that a lawyer shall not handle any legal
matter without adequate preparation. Specifically, Rule 18.03 provides that a lawyer
shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.

Once lawyers agree to take up the cause of a client, they owe fidelity to the cause and
must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. A client is entitled
to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense authorized by law, and is expected to rely
on the lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense
.


Evidently, respondent failed to champion the cause of his clients with wholehearted
fidelity, care and devotion. Despite adequate time, he did not familiarize himself with the
correct procedural remedy as regards their case. Worse, he repeatedly assured them that
the supposed petition had already been filed.

Since he effectively waived his right to be heard, the Court can only assume that there was no
valid reason for his failure to file a petition for review, and that he was therefore negligent.


Conduct Unbecoming

Having become aware of the wrong remedy he had erroneously taken, respondent purposely
evaded complainants, refused to update them on the appeal, and misled them as to his
whereabouts. Moreover, on June 17, 1998, he uttered invectives at them when they
visited him for an update on the case.

Rule 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that a lawyer shall keep the
client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to
the clients request for information. Accordingly, complainants had the right to be updated
on the developments and status of the case for which they had engaged the services of
respondent. But he apparently denied them that right.

Atty. Bala is suspended for 6 months and ordered to pay spouses Garcia P9,200.


RULE 18.03
Villaflores v Atty. Limos AC No. 7504, Nov 23,2007 (TABAG)
FACTS:
- Complaint for disbarment filed by Virginia Villaflores against Atty. Sinamar Limos
because of Gross Negliegence and Dereliction of Duty
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- Atty. Limos was the counsel of Villaflores in another case filed before the RTC
where the latter is a defenadant. Before this, Atty. Limos handled a case for
Villaflores son.
- In the original case where Villaflores was a defendant, the RTC rendered a
judgment unfavorable to Villaflores. She wanted to appeal. She initially sought
PAOs (Public Attorneys Office) services but decided to solicit the services of Atty.
Limos.
- Villaflores initially paid her 10,000 (on Sept 8, 2004) , then another 10,000 (on Sept
9, 2004), then another 2,000 for miscellaneous expenses (on Sept 21, 2004). Atty.
Limos was paid a total of 22,000 duly receipted and acknowledged by the latter.
- Subsequent to the payments, on Sept 21, 2004, an Employment Contract was
signed by Atty. Limos and VIllaflores to formally engage the lawyers professional
services.
- However, Villaflores appeal (the original case) was dismissed because Atty. Limos
was not able to file an appellants brief within the required reglementary period.
- After knowledge of this, there have been many unsuccessful attempts by Villaflores
to see Atty. Limos, the lawyer refusing to talk to Villaflores.
- Villaflores filed a complaint with the IBP, the Comission of Bar disciplined that Atty.
Limos should be declared guilty of gross negligence in failing to file the required
appellants brief and should be suspended for 1 year and must return the 22,000
paid by Villaflores. The IBP Board of Governers adopted this resolition and modified
it, suspending Atty. Limos for 3 months instead.

ISSUE:
Whether the respondent committed culpable negligence in handling complainants case as
would warrant disciplinary action.

HELD:
YES!
-
The relation of attorney and client begins from the time an attorney is retained. To
establish the professional relation, it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of
an attorney are sought and received in any manner pertinent to his profession.

- THUS, as early as Sept 8 (first payment was made), respondent was already
considered as counsel and not merely on Sept 21 when the Employment Contract
was signed. The acceptance of payment and the records of the case bars the
attorney from disclaiming the existence of the attorney-client relationship.
- No lawyer is obliged to advocate for every person who may wish to become his
client, but once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to
such cause and must be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. Among
the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes an
action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its termination, that is, until the case
becomes final and executory.
- Respondents defense that complainant failed to inform her of the exact date when
to reckon the 45 days within which to file the appellants brief does not inspire belief
or, at the very least, justify such failure. If anything, it only shows respondents
cavalier attitude towards her clients cause.
- CANOY vs ORTIZ, Court ruled that failure to file a position paper by the counsel is
to be considered a violation of Rule 18.03. Same is true in this case. It was the
lawyers duty to inform the client of the status of the case.
- Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers states: A lawyer
shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
- Failure of respondent to file the appellants brief for complainant within the
reglementary period constitutes gross negligence in violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility

PANELCO v Atty. Montemayor, AC No.5739, Sept. 17, 2007 (TORRES)

Balabat v Atty. Sanchez, AC No.1666, April. 13, 2007 (UY)

Vda. de Enriquez v atty. San Jose, AC No. 3569, Feb. 23, 2007 (VELASCO)
This is an administrative complaint for disbarment filed by Fidela Vda. De Enriquez against
respondent Atty. Manuel G. San Jose for gross negligence.

Facts:
Petitioner hired the services of respondent for filing an unlawful detainer case
against a lessee who defaulted in the payment of monthly rentals on petitioners property.
Respondent failed to file the appropriate civil case, despite payment of attorneys fees, so the
case was withdrawn from him. Petitioner demanded the return of documents, but despite
repeated demands, respondent refused and failed to return the documents. Thus, the action
for unlawful detainer prescribed. Petitioner alleged further that her daughter who worked for
respondent was not paid her salary.
Respondent, in his Comment, denied being negligent. He alleged that petitioner
sent him a letter informing him that the lessee already agreed to vacate the premises, thus
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filing the case became unnecessary. He also explained that there was a vacancy in the
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, therefore he did not file the case because the case could not be
filed until a new judge was appointed. He also claimed that petitioners daughter was paid her
salary.
The case was referred to the IBP. The investigating officer found that respondent was
indeed remiss in the performance of his professional duties as counsel. It concluded that
respondent was guilty of negligence. The Commissioner recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for three months. However, the penalty imposed by the
IBP Board of Governors was only one-month suspension.
Respondent filed a petition to dismiss the case against him. The petition was
dismissed by the IBP for lack of merit.

Issue: WON respondent was negligent.

Held: Yes.

The Court agrees with the IBPs decision. It cites Rule 18.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility that enjoins a lawyer not to neglect a legal matter entrusted to him,
and his negligence therewith shall render him liable.
A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting
the latters interest with utmost diligence. It is the duty of a lawyer to serve his client with
competence and diligence and he should exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds of the
law, the interest of his client. It is not enough that a practitioner is qualified to handle a legal
matter; he is also required to prepare adequately and give the appropriate attention to his legal
work.
Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes
to conduct an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its conclusion. However, respondent in
this case failed to file the appropriate civil case after sending a demand letter. The failure to
file a pleading is by itself inexcusable negligence on the part of respondent. The Court finds
reprehensible respondents failure to heed the request of his client for the return of the case
documents. That respondent gave no reasonable explanation for that failure makes his
neglect patent.
Respondent aggravates his misconduct by blaming the courts. Respondents excuse
that the MCTC having jurisdiction over the case was vacant; that filing of a case would be
useless; and that the best thing to do was to wait for the vacancy to be filled, finds no support
in the practice of law. The vacancy in court did not suspend the courts official existence,
much less render it functus oficio.
Respondent also relies in vain on complainants letter dated August 16, 1990, wherein
complainant informed respondent of her decision to withdraw the case. Because of the
respondents failure to file the appropriate case, and his refusal to return the documents, time
ran out and the action for unlawful detainer case was barred by prescription. Damage and
prejudice to the clients cause was undeniable.
The Court revised the one-month suspension to six months.

Dispositive:

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Manuel G. San Jose is hereby declared guilty of
violation of Canon 18 specifically Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective upon notice of
this Resolution.

Spouses Soriano v Atty. Reyes, AC No. 4676, May. 4, 2006 (VICENTE)

Spouses Adecer v Atty. Akut, AC No. 4809, May. 3, 2006 (VILLAFUERTE)
Nature: Petition for disbarment filed by Spouses William and Teresita Adecer (complainants)
against Attorney Emmanuel A. Akut (respondent).
Complainants were charged with committing a crime punishable under Article 318 of the
Revised Penal Code (Other Deceits), before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Cagayan de
Oro, Branch No. 5 (MTCC). Respondent was their legal counsel in the criminal case.
25 March 1997 - respondent received a copy of the MTCCs Decision dated 12 March 1997
convicting complainants of Other Deceits.
26 March 1997 - the Decision was promulgated in the absence of the complainants, who were
accorded due notice.
4 April 1997 - Complainants received a copy of the Decision via registered mail Respondent
received an additional copy of the Decision on even date.
Respondent had fifteen (15) days from 25 March 1997 (or until 9 April 1997) to file either an
appeal or a petition for probation in behalf of the complainants. However, it was only on 16
May 1997 over a month after the Decision had become final and executory that respondent
filed a Petition for Probation.
19 May 1997 - The MTCC issued a Writ of Execution
20 May 1997 - a warrant of arrest was served on complainants and they were incarcerated.
28 May 1997 - respondent filed a Memorandum in Support of the Petition for Probation
stating, immediately upon her receipt of a copy of the decision, accused Teresita Adecer
contacted [her] lawyer but [her] lawyer was out of town during that time and so, while waiting
for her lawyer to come home, she raised the required amount necessary to pay the civil
indemnity awarded in the decision. Respondent explained that complainant Teresita Adecer
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raised the money in the belief that an application for probation would not be granted unless all
monetary awards are paid in full.
Respondent recounted that it was only on 16 May 1997, when complainant Teresita
approached him and handed to him the money for the settlement of the civil liability, that he
informed her that the application for probation should have been filed within the period for
appeal.
The Petition for Probation was denied through a Resolution dated 7 June 1997. The MTCC
held that the law does not permit the grant of probation after the lapse of the period for filing
an appeal. With regard to respondents allegation that he was out of town during the period for
filing an appeal, the MTCC examined the calendars of various courts and ascertained that
respondent had scheduled and attended hearings before several courts in Cagayan de Oro
during said period. This prompted the MTCC to comment, the court does not know if defense
counsel suffered a sudden lack of vitamins to make him forget his duties towards his clients.
29 July 1997 - while serving their sentence at the Lumbia Detention and Rehabilitation Center,
complainants filed the instant administrative case praying that respondent be disbarred and
ordered to reimburse complainants of expenses, with interest and damages.
In his Comment dated 22 February 1998, respondent reiterated his account in the
Memorandum in Support of the Petition for Probation dated 28 May 1997 on why a timely
petition for probation was not filed. However, his explanation evolved somewhat since the last
time. This time, he stated that complainants deliberately failed to meet with him seasonably
for the signing of the verification of the Petition for Probation. On the MTCCs finding that
respondent appeared before Cagayan de Oro courts during the period to file an appeal, he
retorted that he moved for the postponement of most of these hearings and attended only the
more important ones. He explained that he was out of his office most of the time because
starting February 1997, he and his wife were always out of town looking for faith healers to
cure the malignant brain tumor of his wife, who succumbed to the cancer on 1 August 1997.
Allegedly, after attending the important hearings, he immediately went out of town seeking
faith healers.
Ruling of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines:
Commissioner Reyes found that respondent failed to exercise the proper diligence in dealing
with the case of his clients and recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for one (1) month and admonished henceforth to be more careful in the
performance of his duties to his clients. The IBP Board of Governors resolved to adopt and
approve the findings of Commissioner Reyes with the modification that respondent instead be
suspended for six (6) months.
Ruling of the Supreme Court:
We affirm the findings of the Investigating Commissioner and adopt the recommendation of
the Board of Governors.
The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that a lawyer shall serve his client with
competence and diligence. He shall not handle any legal matter without adequate preparation.
Nor shall he neglect a legal matter entrusted to him; his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
Respondent is bound by the representations he made in his Memorandum in Support of the
Petition for Probation, i.e., that a timely petition for probation was not filed due to the fact that
he was out of town and that complainants were laboring under the misapprehension that the
civil liability must be paid in full before probation could be availed of. Either of his two
explanations is enough ground to render him liable for negligence under the Code of
Professional Conduct. First, despite his receipt of a copy of the Decision and the consequent
running of the fifteen (15)-day period to file a petition for probation, respondent went out of
town without contacting complainants to give them proper legal advice. Furthermore, his
admission that complainants were under the impression that they first had to pay off their civil
liabilities prior to filing a petition for probation and unaware that they had only fifteen (15) days
from their counsels receipt of a copy of the decision to file their petition, proves that he failed
to give complainants timely legal advise.
At the outset, it must be remembered that respondent was given a copy of the Decision while
he was in town. Surely, he could have addressed his clients need during that time. At the
very least, he should have made room in his schedule to confer with complainants on what
course of action to take in furtherance of their cause and to prepare the necessary legal
moves toward such end.
Furthermore, respondent was not away for the entirety of the crucial period and could have
attended to his clients needs during the instances he was in Cagayan de Oro. And even if
respondent had left town during the entire fifteen (15)-day period, in this age of cellular
phones, long distance telephone accessibility, and even overnight mail delivery, it is highly
unlikely that respondent would not be able to attend to his clients needs were he so inclined.
He could at least have found a way to speak to his clients to inform them regarding the short
window within which to file their petition. He could even have prepared a petition and mailed
the same to his clients in order that they could sign it and themselves file it in court; or as
intimated by the MTCC, he could have filed a motion for extension of time to file a petition for
probation.
There are many ways to provide proper representation for his clients and many things which
respondent could have done that would give this Court the impression that he had the least bit
of concern for his clients cause. But nothing of the sort was presented by respondent. Since
he is primarily responsible for filing the vital pleading that would have made possible for his
clients to avail of probation, we find that respondents omission is a culpable act of negligence
for which he must be held liable.
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We have held that the failure of an attorney to file a timely motion for reconsideration or an
appeal renders him liable for negligence under the Code of Professional Responsibility. In the
instant case, the negligence exhibited by the respondent is made more grievous by the fact
that the Decision to be acted upon is one that subjects his clients to incarceration. The liberty
of ones clients is not to be taken lightly, whether the sentence is for destierro or reclusion
perpetua. Litigants entrust their properties, liberties, and even lives, in the hands of their
lawyers, who must protect these values with utmost zeal and vigilance.
What compounds respondents negligence is his indifference to complainants plight. He
abruptly dismissed his failure to communicate with complainants by stating that, even if
complainants house is near respondents office, yet respondent does not know where their
house is as he has never gone to said house. It has never been the practice of respondent to
visit his clients in their home. It must be the client who must go to him.

CANON 19
RULE 19.01
Pea v Atty. Aparicio, AC No. 7298, June 25, 2007 (ATIENZA)

Atty. Briones v Atty. Jimenez, AC No. 6691, April. 27, 2007 (BUENAVENTURA)
Facts: Atty. Briones is the Special Administrator of the Estate of Luz J. Henson. Atty. Jacinto
D. Jimenez is the counsel for the Heirs of the late Luz J. Henson (Heirs).
On April 9, 2002, Atty. Jimenez filed with the RTC a notice of appeal from the Order dated
April 3, 2002, questioning the payment of commission to Atty. Briones.
On April 29, 2002, Atty. Jimenez filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) a Petition for Certiorari,
Prohibition and Mandamus, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70349 assailing the Order dated
March 12, 2002, appointing the firm of Alba, Romeo & Co. to conduct an audit at the expense
of the late Luz J. Henson, as well as the Order dated April 3, 2002, insofar as it denied their
motion for recommendation.
On July 26, 2002, Atty. Jimenez filed with the CA a Petition for Mandamus, docketed as CA-
G.R. No. 71844, alleging that the respondent Judge therein unlawfully refused to comply with
his ministerial duty to approve their appeal which was perfected on time.
Atty. Briones, in his Comment, contends that the heirs of the late Luz J. Henson, represented
by Atty. Jimenez, are guilty of forum shopping for which reason, the petition should be
dismissed.
On February 11, 2003, the CA without touching on the forum shopping issue, granted the
petition and ordered the respondent Judge to give due course to the appeal taken by Atty.
Jimenez from the Order dated April 3, 2002, insofar as it directed the payment of commission
to Atty. Briones.
Atty. Briones (hereinafter referred to as complainant) filed his "Memorandum with
Administrative Complaint for Disbarment against Atty. Jacinto Jimenez, Counsel for
Respondents", for violation of Rule 19.01 and Rule 12.08 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Revised Circular No. 28-91 on forum shopping.
Complainant claims that Atty. Jimenez (hereinafter referred to as respondent) and the Heirs
engaged again in forum shopping when respondent, as counsel for the Heirs, filed a criminal
complaint and executed an affidavit against complainant for resisting and seriously disobeying
the RTC Order dated April 3, 2002 which directed complainant to deliver the residue of the
estate to the Heirs in proportion to their shares, punishable under Article 151 of the Revised
Penal Code.
Complainant further claims that respondent violated Rules 19.01 and 12.08 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
ISSUE: WON respondent Atty. Jimenez violated Canon 19.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibilty
HELD: Yes.
On January 31, 2007, the OBC submitted its Report and Recommendation recommending
that the administrative complaint against Atty. Jimenez be dismissed for lack of merit.
The Court agrees with the OBC that respondent is not guilty of forum shopping. Records show
that respondent, as counsel for the heirs of the late Luz J. Henson, filed a special civil action
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70349 assailing the Order of March 12, 2002 appointing the
accounting firm of Alba, Romeo and Co. as auditor; and, a regular appeal docketed as CA-
G.R. SP No. 71488 assailing the Order of April 3, 2002, insofar as it directed the payment of
commission to complainant. It is evident that there is identity of parties but different causes of
action and reliefs sought. Hence, respondent is not guilty of forum shopping. The Court
likewise finds no fault on the part of respondent in executing an affidavit in support of the
criminal complaint as held in the Santiago case.
However, there is sufficient ground in support of complainants claim that respondent violated
Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Records reveal that before respondent
assisted the Heirs in filing the criminal complaint against herein complainant, he sent demand
letters to the latter to comply with the Order of Judge Tipon to deliver the residue of the estate
to the heirs of the late Luz J. Henson. Considering that complainant did not reply to the
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demand letters, respondent opted to file said criminal complaint in behalf of his clients for
refusal to obey the lawful order of the court.
Respondent claims that he acted in good faith and in fact, did not violate Rule 19.01 because
he assisted the Heirs in filing the criminal complaint against herein complainant after the latter
ignored the demand letters sent to him; and that a lawyer owes his client the exercise of
utmost prudence and capability. The Court is not convinced. Fair play demands that
respondent should have filed the proper motion with the RTC to attain his goal of having the
residue of the estate delivered to his clients and not subject complainant to a premature
criminal prosecution.
Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins a lawyer to represent his client
with zeal. However, the same Canon provides that a lawyers performance of his duties
towards his client must be within the bounds of the law. Rule 19.01 of the same Canon
requires, among others, that a lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the
lawful objectives of his client. Canon 15, Rule 15.07 also obliges lawyers to impress upon their
clients compliance with the laws and the principle of fairness. To permit lawyers to resort to
unscrupulous practices for the protection of the supposed rights of their clients is to defeat one
of the purposes of the state the administration of justice. While lawyers owe their entire
devotion to the interest of their clients and zeal in the defense of their clients right, they
should not forget that they are, first and foremost, officers of the court, bound to exert every
effort to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. 17
Although respondent failed to live up to this expectation, there is no evidence that he acted
with malice or bad faith. Consequently, it is but fit to reprimand respondent for his act of unfair
dealing with complainant. It must be stressed that disbarment is the most severe form of
disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar must always be exercised with great
caution for only the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the
standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar.
Accordingly, disbarment should not be decreed where any punishment less severe such as
reprimand, suspension, or fine would accomplish the end desired.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Jacinto D. Jimenez is found guilty of and REPRIMANDED for violation of
Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.




RULE 19.02
Sebastian v Atty. Bajar, AC No. 3731, Sept. 7, 2007 (CAMERINO)
Facts:
Respondent is a lawyer of the Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance (BALA) of the Department
of Agrarian Reform who represented Fernando Tanlioco (Tanlioco) in numerous cases.
Tanlioco is an agricultural lessee of a land owned by Manuel Sebastians (complainant)
spouse and sister-in-law. The landowners filed an Ejectment case against Tanlioco on the
basis of a conversion order of the land use from agricultural to residential. The Regional Trial
Court (RTC) rendered judgment ordering Tanliocos ejectment subject to the payment of
disturbance compensation. The RTCs judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the
Supreme Court.
However, Atty. Emily Bajar (respondent), as Tanliocos counsel, filed another case for Specific
Performance to produce the conversion order. The RTC dismissed the complaint due to res
judicata and lack of cause of action. Respondent filed another case for Maintenance of
Possession with the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board. The case raised the
same issues of conversion and disturbance compensation.
Hence, on 18 October 1991, Manuel S. Sebastian filed a disbarment complaint against Atty.
Emily A. Bajar for "obstructing, disobeying, resisting, rebelling, and impeding final decisions of
Regional Trial Courts, the Court of Appeals and of the Honorable Supreme Court, and also for
submitting those final decisions for the review and reversal of the DARAB, an administrative
body, and for contemptuous acts and dilatory tactics."
Issue:
Whether or not respondent obstructed, disobeyed, and resisted the decisions of the Court
which may cause her disbarment.
Held:
After a careful review of the records, the Court finds the evidence on record sufficient to
support the IBPs findings that [1.] Respondent appealed a case for purposes of delay which
amounted to an obstruction of justice; and [2.] Respondent abused her right of recourse to the
courts. The duplication or multiplication of suits should be avoided and respondents acts were
tantamount to forum-shopping which is a reprehensible manipulation of court processes and
proceedings.
It must be noted that officers of the court shall be competent, honorable, and reliable men in
whom the public may repose confidence "Lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their
duties to society, to the bar, to the courts, and to their clients. Their conduct must always
reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility. On these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend lawyers for any
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professional or private misconduct showing them to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
probity, and good demeanor or to be unworthy to continue as officers of the Court."
Respondents acts constitute gross misconduct and willful disobedience of lawful orders of a
superior court. Hence, respondent was ordered suspended for three years.

Dalisay v Atty. Mauricio, AC No.5655, Jan. 23, 2006 (DECALOS)
FACTS:
Dalisay accused Mauricio of negligence and malpractice of in
handling a civil case. In the course of several petitions Attorney
Mauricio alleged that Dalisay falsified documents. He even filed a
case against Dalisay. Dalisay contends that it was a violation of
attorney client privilege.

ISSUE:
WON Atty. Mauricio is guilty of malpractice.

HELD:
Yes. The motion to reconsider is denied based on the fact that
in terms of fraudulent practices the rules are laid out in 19.02. As a
lawyer it is expected that he should know this rule.

When it is discovered he should have terminated the attorney client
relationship. It is clearly laid out in the rule.

The evidence of the falsification came afterwards in terms of the
vindictiveness of his behavior and to justify his negligence.

CANON 20
Pineda v Atty. de Jesus, GR No. 155224, Aug. 21, 2007 (DORIA)
Facts:
On April 6, 1993, Aurora Pineda filed an action for declaration of nullity of marriage
against petitioner Vinson Pineda in the RTC of Pasig City. Petitioner was represented by
respondents Attys. Clodualdo de Jesus, Carlos Ambrosio and Emmanuel Mariano. On
November 25, 1998, the marriage between petitioner and Aurora Pineda was declared
null and void.

Throughout the proceedings, respondent counsels were well-compensated. They,
including their relatives and friends, even availed of free products and treatments from
Vinsons dermatology clinic. This notwithstanding, respondents billed him additional legal
fees amounting to P16.5 million which Vinson refused to pay. Instead, he issued them
several checks totalling P1.12 million as full payment for
settlement.http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2006/aug2006/gr_155224_2006.html - fnt6

Still not satisfied, respondents filed in the same RTC a motion for payment of lawyers
fees for P50 million.

On April 14, 2000, the RTC ordered Vinson to pay P5 million to Atty. de Jesus, P2 million
to Atty. Ambrosio and P2 million to Atty. Mariano. (Total: P9 million )

On appeal, the CA reduced the amount as follows: P1 million to Atty. de Jesus, P500,000
to Atty. Ambrosio and P500,000 to Atty. Mariano. (Total: P2 million)


Issue:
(1) WON the Pasig RTC had jurisdiction over the claim for additional legal fees --- YES
(2) WON respondents were entitled to additional legal fees --- NO


Held:
First, a lawyer may enforce his right to his fees by filing the necessary petition as an
incident of the main action in which his services were rendered or in an independent suit
against his client. The former is preferable to avoid multiplicity of suits. The Pasig RTC,
where the case was filed, had jurisdiction over the motion for the payment of legal fees.
Respondents sought to collect P50 million which was equivalent to 10% of the value of
the properties awarded to petitioner in that case. Clearly, what respondents were
demanding was additional payment for legal services rendered in the same case.

Second, the professional engagement between petitioner and respondents was
governed by the principle of quantum meruit which means "as much as the lawyer
deserves." The recovery of attorneys fees on this basis is permitted, as in this case,
where there is no express agreement for the payment of attorneys fees. Basically, it is a
legal mechanism which prevents an unscrupulous client from running away with the fruits
of the legal services of counsel without paying for it. In the same vein, it avoids unjust
enrichment on the part of the lawyer himself.

Further, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility advises lawyers to avoid
controversies with clients concerning their compensation and to resort to judicial action
only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud. Suits to collect fees should be avoided and
should be filed only when circumstances force lawyers to resort to it.
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In the case at bar, respondents motion for payment of their lawyers fees was not meant
to collect what was justly due them; the fact was, they had already been adequately paid.
The payments to them in cash, checks, free products and services from petitioners
business all of which were not denied by respondents more than sufficed for the
work they did.
Demanding P50 million on top of the generous sums and perks already given to them
was an act of unconscionable greed which is shocking to this Court.

As lawyers, respondents should be reminded that they are members of an honorable
profession, the primary vision of which is justice. It is respondents despicable behavior
which gives lawyering a bad name in the minds of some people. The vernacular has a
word for it: nagsasamantala. The practice of law is a decent profession and not a money-
making trade. Compensation should be but a mere incident.



Lijuaco v Atty. Terrado, AC No. 6317, Aug.31, 2006 (FABELLA)
FACTS: On February 13, 2004, an administrative complaint
1
was filed by complainant
Luzviminda C. Lijauco against respondent Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado for gross misconduct,
malpractice and conduct unbecoming of an officer of the court when he neglected a legal
matter entrusted to him despite receipt of payment representing attorneys fees.

According to the complainant, she engaged the services of respondent sometime in January
2001 for P70,000.00 to assist in recovering her deposit with Planters Development Bank,
Buendia, Makati branch in the amount of P180,000.00 and the release of her foreclosed
house and lot located in Calamba, Laguna. The property identified as Lot No. 408-C-2 and
registered as TCT No. T-402119 in the name of said bank is the subject of a petition for the
issuance of a writ of possession then pending before the Regional Trial Court of Binan,
Laguna, Branch 24 docketed as LRC Case No. B-2610.

In the instant scenario, despite the strong protestation of respondent that the Php70,000.00
legal fees is purely and solely for the recovery of the Php180,000.00 savings account of
complainant subsequent acts and events say otherwise, to wit:
1.) The Php70,000.00 legal fees for the recovery of a Php180,000.00 savings deposit is too
high;
2.) Respondent actively acted as complainants lawyer to effectuate the compromise
agreement.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Terrado was administratively liable for charging excessive fees.

HELD: Yes. Respondents claim that the attorneys fee pertains only to the recovery of
complainants savings deposit from Planters Development Bank cannot be sustained.
Records show that he acted as complainants counsel in the drafting of the compromise
agreement between the latter and the bank relative to LRC Case No. B-2610. Respondent
admitted that he explained the contents of the agreement to complainant before the latter
affixed her signature. Moreover, the Investigating Commissioner observed that the fee of
P70,000.00 for legal assistance in the recovery of the deposit amounting to P180,000.00 is
unreasonable. A lawyer shall charge only fair and reasonable fees.
11


WHEREFORE, Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado is found GUILTY of violating Rules 1.01, 9.02, 18.02
and 20.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for six (6) months effective from notice, and STERNLY WARNED that any similar
infraction will be dealt with more severely. He is further ordered to RETURN, within thirty (30)
days from notice, the sum of P70,000.00 to complainant Luzviminda C. Lijauco and to submit
to this Court proof of his compliance within three (3) days therefrom.

CANON 20 - A LAWYER SHALL CHARGE ONLY FAIR AND REASONABLE FEES.

Rule 20.01 - A lawyer shall be guided by the following factors in determining his fees
(a) The time spent and the extent of the service rendered or required;
(b) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;
(c) The importance of the subject matter;
(d) The skill demanded;
(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of the proffered case;
(f) The customary charges for similar services and the schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to
which he belongs;
(g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the
service;
(h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;
(i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or established; and
(j) The professional standing of the lawyer.
Rule 20.02 - A lawyer shall, in case of referral, with the consent of the client, be entitled to a
division of fees in proportion to the work performed and responsibility assumed.
Rule 20.03 - A lawyer shall not, without the full knowledge and consent of the client, accept
any fee, reward, costs, commission, interest, rebate or forwarding allowance or other
compensation whatsoever related to his professional employment from anyone other than the
client.
Rule 20.04 - A lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his compensation and
shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud.


Roxas v de Zuzuarregui, G.R. No. 152072, Jan. 31, 2006 (FRANCISCO)
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*Petition for review on certiorari

Facts:
- 1977 when the National Housing Authority (NHA) filed expropriation proceedings
against the Zuzuarreguis, parcels of land belonging to the latter situated in Antipolo,
Rizal, with a total land area of 1,790,570.36 square meters, more or less. This case
was lodged before the RTC, Branch 141.
- On 25 May 1983, said case was ordered archived
6
by Branch 141.
- About a month before the aforecited case was ordered archived, the Zuzuarreguis
engaged the legal services of Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor civil
case, with a letter-agreement:
o Informing Zuzuarreguis that Roxas and Pastor will be the one to represent
them in the case.
o Content of the letter-agreement from the 2 lawyers:
We shall endeavor to secure just compensation with the NHA
and other govtal agencies at a price of P11.00 or more per
square meter. Any lower amount shall not entitle us to any
attorneys fees. At such price of P11.00 per square meter or
more our contingent fee is 30% of the just compensation.
Our lawyers fees shall be in the proportion of the cash/bonds
ration of the just compensation. Like wise our fees are subject to
10% withholding tax.
o 29 October 1984 partial decision was rendered by Branch 141 fixing the
just compensation to be paid to the Zuzuarreguis at P30.00 per square
meter.
o 23 November 1984 NHA filed MR praying that the partial decision be
reconsidered and set aside, and a NEW ONE RENDERED LOWERING
AMOUNT of just compensation in accordance with applicable laws.
o Pending resolution. A Joint Special Power of Attorney was executed by
Zuzuaregguis in favor of Atty. Roxas and Pastor:
Giving full power and authority to their said attorneys on
whatsoever requisite or proper to be done about the premise.
o 10 December 1985 Letter-Agreement was executed by and b/n
Zuzuarreguis, and Roxas and Pastor
content:
an amendment to their first agreement regarding the attorneys
fees for their (Zuzurreguis) properties expropriated by NHA
covering 179 hectares; they are now accepting as final and
complete settlement the price of P17.00 per square meter for a
total of 30.4 million pesos.
For the consideration of their service as their lawyers (Roxas
and Pastor) they will be paid as their contingent attys fees any
and all amount in excess of the P17.00 per square meter
payable in NHA bonds.
The letter-agreement serves as their authority to collect directly
from NHA the amount pertaining to their contingent attys fees.
The letter-agreement also amends and supersedes the previous
agreement regarding their attys fees.
o 16 December 1985 - Resolution No. 1174 was issued by the NHA stating
that Zuzuarregui property would be acquired at a cost of P19.50 square
meter.
o Computed at P19.50 per square meter, the 1,790,570.36 square meters
property of the Zuzuarreguis was expropriated at a total price of
P34,916,122.00. The total amount released by the NHA was
P54,500,000.00. The difference of P19,583,878.00 is, undoubtedly, the
yield on the bonds.
Issue: Whether or not the petitioners (Atty. Roxas and Atty. Pastor) charge fair and
reasonable in their attorneys fees.

Held: NO.
- Attys. Roxas and Pastor, petitioners in G.R. No. 152072, contend in the main that
the Zuzuarreguis are only entitled to the amount of P17.00 per square meter for the
1,790,570.36 square meters expropriated by the government. This was, according
to them, embodied in the Letter-Agreement dated 10 December 1985, wherein the
Zuzuarreguis agreed to accept the price of P17.00 per square meter. Besides, Attys.
Roxas and Pastor contend that the price of P17.00 was even way above the P11.00
- The Zuzuarreguis, for their part, though they were triumphant in the Court of
Appeals, insist that the amounts awarded them were not enough. According to
them, the P12,596,696.425 awarded by the Court of Appeals was not correct. They
should have been awarded the amount of P17,073,122.70.
- It was, therefore, in error to still deduct the amount of P4,476,426.28 from
petitioners share in the yield in the amount of P17,073,122.70 leaving then only
P12,596,696.42.
- A contract for contingent fee, where sanctioned by law, should be reasonable under
all the circumstances of the case including the risk and uncertainty of the
compensation, but should always be subject to the supervision of a court, as to its
reasonableness.
- In cases where contingent fees are sanctioned by law, the same should be
reasonable under all the circumstances of the case, and should always be subject to
the supervision of a court, as to its reasonableness, such that under Canon 20 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is tasked to charge only fair
and reasonable fees.
- Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court partly states:
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o SEC. 24. Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees. An attorney
shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more than a
reasonable compensation for his services, with a view to the importance
of the subject matter of the controversy, the extent of the services
rendered, and the professional standing of the attorney. x x x. A written
contract for services shall control the amount to be paid therefore unless
found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable.
- In the instant case, Attys. Roxas and Pastor received an amount which was equal to
forty-four percent (44%) of the just compensation paid (including the yield on the
bonds) by the NHA to the Zuzuarreguis, or an amount equivalent to P23,980,000.00
of the P54,500,000.00. Considering that there was no full-blown hearing in the
expropriation case, ending as it did in a Compromise Agreement, the 44% is,
undeniably, unconscionable and excessive under the circumstances. Its reduction
is, therefore, in order.
- It is imperative that the contingent fees received by Attys. Roxas and Pastor must
be equitably reduced. In the opinion of this Court, the yield that corresponds to the
percentage share of the Zuzuarreguis in the P19.50 per square meter just
compensation paid by the NHA must be returned by Attys. Roxas and Pastor.
- The Zuzuarreguis are entitled to the yield equal to 87.18% of the P19,583,878.00,
while Attys. Roxas and Pastor are entitled to 12.82% of said amount. The amount
corresponding to 87.17% of P19,583,878.00 is P17,073,224.84. This is the yield that
the Zuzuarreguis are entitled to. Attys. Roxas and Pastor, on the other hand, are
entitled to P2,510,653.16.
- Attys. Roxas and Pastor, in the opinion of this Court, were not shortchanged for their
efforts for they would still be earning or actually earned attorneys fees in the
amount of P6,987,078.75 (P4,476,425.59 + P2,510,653.16).
- The amount of P17,073,224.84 must therefore be returned by Attys. Roxas and
Pastor to the Zuzuarreguis. They can take this out from the yield in the amount of
P19,583,878.00 which they have appropriated for themselves.
- WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 25 June 2001 and 06 February 2002,
respectively, are AFFIRMED but with the MODIFICATION that Attys. Romeo G.
Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor are hereby ordered to return to the Zuzuarreguis the
amount of P17,073,224.84. No costs.


Cueto v Atty. Jimenez, AC No. 5798, Jan. 20, 2005 (GATCHALIAN)
FACTS:
Engr. Alex Cueto alleged that sometime in October 1999 he engaged the services of
respondent as notary public, the latter being the father of the owner of the building subject of
the Construction Agreement
[2]
to be notarized. He was then accompanied by a certain Val
Rivera, the building administrator of respondents son Jose Jimenez III.
After notarizing the agreement, respondent demanded P50,000 as notarial fee. Despite
his surprise as to the cost of the notarial service, complainant informed respondent that he
only hadP30,000 in cash. Respondent persuaded complainant to pay the P30,000 and to
issue a check for the remaining P20,000. Being unfamiliar with the cost of notarial services,
complainant paid all his cash
[3]
and issued a Far East Bank check dated December 28, 1999
for the balance. Before the maturity date of the check, complainant requested respondent not
to deposit the same for lack of sufficient funds. He also informed respondent that the latters
son Jose Jimenez III had not yet paid his services as general contractor. Still, respondent
deposited the check which was consequently dishonored for insufficient funds. Meanwhile,
the P2,500,000 check issued by respondents son to complainant as initial payment pursuant
to the Construction Agreement was itself dishonored for having been drawn against a closed
account.
Atty. Jimenez lodged a complaint for violation of BP 22 against Cueto before the City
Prosecutors Office in Angeles City. The criminal case was tried in the MTC of Angeles City.
Cueto filed his own administrative complaint against Jimenez. He alleged that Jimenez
violated the Code of Professional Responsibility and Canons of Professional Ethics when he
filed the criminal case against Cueto so he could collect the balance of his notarial fee.
Despite notice, however, respondent failed to file his answer and to appear before the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline. After hearing the case ex-parte, the case was deemed
submitted for resolution. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found respondent guilty of
violating Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended
that Atty. Jose B. Jimenez, Jr. be reprimanded. The Board of Governors passed a
resolution
[7]
adopting and approving the report and recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner.
ISSUE: WON Atty. Jimenez should be reprimanded? YES severely reprimanded
HELD:
Complainants claim that respondents P50,000 notarial fee was exorbitant is
debatable. As confirmed by the IBP, it is a recognized legal practice in real estate
transactions and construction projects to base the amount of notarial fees on the contract
price. Based on the amount demanded by respondent, the fee represented only 1% of the
contract price of P5,000,000. It cannot be said therefore that respondent notary demanded
more than a reasonable recompense for his service.
We are also convinced that the two contracting parties implicitly agreed on the cost of
Jimenezs notarial service. It was Cuetos responsibility to first inquire how much he was
going to be charged for notarization. And once informed, he was free to accept or reject it, or
negotiate for a lower amount. In this case, complainants concern that the other party to the
construction agreement was the son of respondent notary and that his non-availment of
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respondents service might jeopardize the agreement, was purely speculative. There was no
compulsion to avail of respondents service. Moreover, his failure to negotiate the amount of
the fee was an implicit acquiescence to the terms of the notarial service. His subsequent act
of paying in cash and in check all the more proved it.
However, we agree with the IBP that respondents conduct in filing a criminal case for
violation of BP 22 against complainant (when the check representing the P20,000 balance
was dishonored for insufficient funds) was highly improper.
Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that [a]
lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his compensation and shall
resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud. There was clearly
no imposition, injustice or fraud obtaining in this case to justify the legal action taken by
respondent. As borne out by the records, complainant Cueto had already paid more than half
of respondents fee. To resort to a suit to recover the balance reveals a certain kind of
shameful conduct and inconsiderate behavior that clearly undermines the tenet embodied in
Canon 15 and what can we say about the failure of respondents son Jose III to pay his own
obligation to complainant Cueto? It in all probability explains why Cueto ran short of funds.
Respondent therefore should have been more tolerant of the delay incurred by complainant
Cueto.
We cannot overstress the duty of a lawyer to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession. He can do this by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the
courts and to his clients. He should always remind himself that the legal profession is imbued
with public service. Remuneration is a mere incident.
Although we acknowledge that every lawyer must be paid what is due to him, he must
never resort to judicial action to recover his fees, in a manner that detracts from the dignity of
the profession.