Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 56

Failure of the client to pay the lawyer in full amount.

Pichon vs Agleron A.C. No. 5359, March 10, 2014 MENDOZA, J.

Facts: Complainant Ermelinda Lad Vda. De Dominguez (complainant) was the widow of the late Felipe Domiguez who died in a vehicular accident in Caraga, Davao Oriental, involving a dump truck owned by the Municipality of Caraga.

Aggrieved, complainant decided to file charges against the Municipality of Caraga and engaged the services of respondent Atty. Arnulfo M. Agleron, Sr. (Atty. Agleron). Atty. Agleron requested and received from complainant a total amount of P10,050.00 for the payment of filing fees and sheriff’s fees. After the lapse of four (4) years, however, no complaint was filed by Atty. Agleron against the Municipality of Caraga.

Atty. Agleron admitted that complainant engaged his professional service and received the amount of P10,050.00. He, however, explained that their agreement was that complainant would pay the filing fees and other incidental expenses and as soon as the complaint was prepared and ready for filing, complainant would pay 30% of the agreed attorney’s fees of P100,000.00. After the signing of the complaint, he advised the complainant to pay in full the amount of the filing fee and sheriff’s fees and the 30% of the attorney’s fee, but complainant failed to do so, Atty. Agleron averred that since the complaint could not be filed in court, the amount of P10,050.00 was deposited in a bank while awaiting the payment of the balance of the filing fee and attorney’s fee.

In reply, complainant denied that she did not give the full payment of the filing fee and asserted that the filing fee at that time amounted only to P7,836.60.

In the Report and Recommendation, the Investigating Commissioner found Atty. Agleron to have violated the Code of Professional Responsibility when he neglected a legal matter entrusted to him, and recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of four (4) months.

In a Resolution, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors adopted and approved the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner with modification that Atty. Agleron be suspended from the practice of law for a period of only one (1) month.

Respondent’s contention: Atty. Agleron admitted his failure to file the complaint against the Municipality of Caraga, Davao Oriental, despite the fact that it was already prepared and signed. He attributed his non-filing of the appropriate charges on the failure of complainant to remit the full payment of the filing fee and pay the 30% of the attorney’s fee.

Issue: W/N Atty. Agleron was correct in not filing the complaint because he has not been paid in full.

Held: No.

Atty. Agleron violated Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that:

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Rule 18.03-A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Once a lawyer takes up the cause of his client, he is duty bound to serve his client with competence, and to attend to his client’s cause with diligence, care and devotion regardless of whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him.

The contention of respondent is not a valid excuse that would exonerate him from liability. As stated, every case that is entrusted to a lawyer deserves his full attention whether he accepts this for a fee or free. Even assuming that complainant had not remitted the full payment of the filing fee, he should have found a way to speak to his client and inform him about the insufficiency of the filing fee so he could file the complaint. Atty. Agleron obviously lacked professionalism in dealing with complainant and showed incompetence when he failed to file the appropriate charges.

In a number of cases, the Court held that a lawyer should never neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, otherwise his negligence renders him liable for disciplinary action such as suspension ranging from three months to two years. In this case, the Court finds the suspension of Atty. Agleron from the practice of law for a period of three (3) months sufficient.

WHEREFORE, the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.

Rule XI of 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice: Revocation of Commission and Disciplinary Sanctions

Dizon vs. Cabucana A.C. No. 10185, March 12, 2014 MENDOZA, J.:

Facts: In his petition, Lucerio Dizon, complainant, alleged that he was one of the would-be-buyers of a parcel of land owned by the heirs of the late Florentino Callangan, who were parties in Civil Case No. 1-689 filed before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch I, Santiago City (MTCC); that on November 6, 2003, a compromise agreement was executed by the parties in the said case and notarized before Atty. Cabucana on the same date it was signed at the MTCC; that at the hearing conducted on December 11, 2003 regarding the due execution and the veracity of the compromise agreement, the signatories therein testified that they signed the instrument in the court room of MTCC but not in the presence of Atty. Cabucana as Notary Public; that because of the irregularity in the due execution of the Compromise Agreement, there was undue delay in the resolution/decision of Civil Case No. 1-689 which caused damage and injury to complainant; that Atty. Cabucana violated the Notarial Law in notarizing the document in the absence of most of the signatories/affiants; and that he should be sanctioned in accordance with Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Code and Code of Professional Responsibility.

In his Answer, Atty. Cabucana averred that the complaint was intended to harass him because he was the private prosecutor in a criminal case filed against complainant before the MTCC; that complainant had no cause of action as his right was not violated because he was just a "would be" buyer and not a party to the compromise agreement; and that complainant would not suffer any damage by the pendency of the case or by any

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

defects

agreement.

obtaining

in

the

notarization

of

the

compromise

The Investigating Commissioner found that Atty. Cabucana violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended that he be suspended as Notary Public for a period of two (2) years and from the practice of law for six (6) monthThe IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner with modification that Atty. Cabucana be suspended for only six (6) months for violation of his obligation as Notary Public.

On motion for reconsideration, the IBP Board of Governors, in a Resolution, modified its earlier resolution and suspended Atty. Cabucana from the practice of law for one (1) month and disqualified him from re-appointment as notary public for one (1) year.

Issue: Whether Atty Cabucana is guilty of violating Rule 1.01, Canon I of the CPR

Held: Yes. The Court agrees with the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors except as to the penalty.

Section 1, Public Act No. 2103, otherwise known as the Notarial Law states:

The acknowledgment shall be before a notary public or an officer duly authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the act is done. The notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him and that he is the same person who executed it, acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed. The

certificate shall be made under the official seal, if he is required by law to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state.

The requirement of affiant's personal appearance was further emphasized in Section 2 (b) of Rule IV of the Rules on Notarial Practice of 2004 which provides that:

A person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as signatory to the instrument or document

(1) is not in the notary's presence personally at the time of the notarization; and

(2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise identified by the notary public through competent evidence of identity as defined by these Rules.

As a notary public, Atty. Cabucana should not notarize a document unless the person who signs it is the same person executing it and personally appearing before him to attest to the truth of its contents. This is to enable him to verify the genuineness of the signature of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the party's free and voluntary act and deed.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. GUILTY of violating Rule 1.01, Canon l of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, the Court SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for three (3) months, REVOKES his incumbent notarial commission, if any, and PROHIBITS him from being commissioned as a notary public for two (2) years, effective immediately, with a stern WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

LAWYER FILED THE APPELLANT’S BRIEF FOR HIS CLIENT 95 DAYS LATE; SUSPENDED FOR ONE MONTH

Nestor Figueras and Bienvenido Victoria, Jr. vs Atty. Diosdado Jimenez A.C. NO. 9116; March 12, 2014 Villarama, Jr., J:

FACTS: On January 7, 1993, the Spouses Federico and Victoria Santander filed a civil suit for damages against the Congressional Village Homeowner’s Association and Ely Mabanag in his capacity as President of the Association and in his personal capacity before the QC Regional Trial Court (RTC) for building a concrete wall which abutted their property and denied them of their right of way. The Law Firm of Gonzalez Sinense Jimenez and Associates was the legal counsel for the Association, with respondent as the counsel of record and handling lawyer.

After trial and hearing, the RTC ruled in favor of the Spouses Santander. The Association, represented by said law firm appealed to the CA which dismissing the appeal on the ground that the original period to file the appellant’s brief had expired 95 days even before the first motion for extension of time to file said brief was filed. The CA also stated that the grounds adduced for the said motion as well as the six subsequent motions for extension of time to file brief were not meritorious. The CA resolution became final.

Eight years later or on April 11, 2007, herein complainants Nestor Figueras and Bienvenido Victoria, Jr., as members of the Association, filed a Complaint for Disbarment against respondent before the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD)

for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 12.03, Canon 12; Canon 17; and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 thereof for his negligence in handling the appeal and wilful violation of his duties as an officer of the court.

Respondent denied liability and claimed that although his law firm represented the Association, the case was actually handled by an associate lawyer in his law office. He also alleged that the disbarment case was only filed in retaliation because Atty. Jimenez had defeated complainant Figueras in the election for Presidency in the Association. Atty. Jimenez added that complainants have no personality to file the disbarment complaint as they were not his clients; hence, there was likewise no jurisdiction over the complaint on the part of the IBP-CBD.

The Board of Governors of the IBP resolved to suspend Atty. Jimenez from the practice of law for six (6) months for his breach of Rule 12.03, Canon 12, Canon 17, Rule 18.03 and Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and his subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this petition for review.

ISSUE: Whether or not the IBP correctly found Atty. Jimenez administratively liable for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility

RULING: YES.

A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter’s interest with utmost diligence. In failing to file the appellant’s brief on behalf of his client, respondent had fallen far short of his duties as counsel

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

as set forth in Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which exhorts every member of the Bar not to unduly delay a case and to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the same Code also states that:

Canon 18A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.

Rule 18.03.A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Records show that respondent filed the first motion for extension of time to file appellant’s brief 95 days after the expiration of the reglementary period to file said brief, thus causing the dismissal of the appeal of the homeowner’s association. To justify his inexcusable negligence, respondent alleges that he was merely the supervising lawyer and that the fault lies with the handling lawyer. His contention, however, is belied by the records for we note that respondent had filed with the CA an Urgent Motion for Extension, which he himself signed on behalf of the law firm, stating that a previous motion had been filed but "due to the health condition of the undersigned counsel…he was not able to finish said Appellants’ Brief within the fifteen (15) day period earlier requested by him." Thus, it is clear that respondent was personally in charge of the case.

The Court finds no merit in respondent’s contention that complainants have no personality to file a disbarment case against him as they were not his clients and that the present

suit was merely instituted to harass him. The procedural requirement observed in ordinary civil proceedings that only the real party-in-interest must initiate the suit does not apply in disbarment cases. In fact, the person who called the attention of the court to a lawyer’s misconduct "is in no sense a party, and generally has no interest in the outcome.

The petition is DENIED but his suspension from the practice of law has been reduced to one (1) month.

GROSS NEGLIGENCE AND DECEIT

ADELIA V. QUIACHON vs. ATTY. JOSEPH ADORA RAMOS A.C. No. 9317, June 4, 2014 SERENO, CJ:

FACTS: Atty. Joseph Ador A. Ramos represented complainant, who was then the plaintiff in a labor case filed before the NLRC and in a special proceeding case filed before the R TC. The Labor Arbiter granted complainant a favorable decision. Upon appeal, it was reversed and set aside by the NLRC. NLRC also denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent on complainant's behalf. A Petition for Certiorari was filed before the CA, but it affirmed the NLRC's reversal of the LA's Decision.

After the Petition was filed before the CA, complainant would always ask respondent about the status of her case. The latter always told her that there was no decision yet. Sometime in August 2011, while complainant was in respondent’s office

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

waiting for him to arrive, she noticed a mailman delivering an envelope with the title of her labor case printed thereon.

Complainant asked the secretary of respondent to open the envelope and was surprised to discover that it contained the Entry of Judgment of the CA’s Decision. Thereafter, complainant tried repeatedly to contact respondent, but to no avail. When she finally got to talk to him, respondent assured her that "it was alright" as they still had six months to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. After that final meeting, no updates on the labor case were ever communicated to complainant.

With respect to the special proceeding case, the RTC of Roxas City dismissed it for lack of jurisdiction. A Motion for Reconsideration was filed, but it was also denied. Once again, respondent did nothing to reverse the RTC Decision.

Complainant filed the instant disbarment Complaint against respondent. Respondent averred that complainant was informed of the status of the case. He claimed that he had told complainant that he "cannot cite any error of law or abuse of discretion on the part of the CA’s decision that necessitates a Petition for Review with the Supreme Court;" thus, he supposedly advised her to "respect the decision of the Court of Appeals."

The Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation. During the pendency of the proceedings, complainant filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint.

IBP Commissioner Almeyda declared that respondent had been remiss in failing to update complainant in what had happened to the cases being handled by respondent in behalf of complainant. However, in spite of finding neglect on respondent’s part, he recommended the dismissal of the case against him, stating that "with the decision to withdraw the complaint, there does not appear basis to go ahead with the proceedings since without the complaint, there will be no basis to make any finding of liability." The case against respondent was dismissed with a warning that a repetition of the same act shall be dealt with more severely.

ISSUE: W/N the case is properly withdrawn despite finding respondent guilty of gross negligence and deceit in violation of Canon Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

HELD: No. The withdrawal of a disbarment case against a lawyer does not terminate or abate the jurisdiction of the IBP and of this Court to continue an administrative proceeding against a lawyer-respondent as a member of the Philippine Bar.

The complainant in a disbarment case is not a direct party to the case, but a witness who brought the matter to the attention of the Court. There is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor in disciplinary proceedings against lawyers. The real question for determination in these proceedings is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges of a member of the bar. Public interest is the primary objective. We explained why in Rayos-Ombac v. Rayos, viz.:

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

“The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any way, exonerate the respondent. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly proven x x x. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges x x x”.

In this case, the IBP found that respondent violated Canon Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Thus, it should have imposed the appropriate penalty despite the desistance of complainant or the withdrawal of the charges.

The failure of respondent to file an appeal from the CA Decision without any justifiable reason deserves sanction. Lawyers who disagree with the pursuit of an appeal should properly withdraw their appearance and allow their client to retain another counsel.

In the present case, respondent failed not only to keep the client informed of the status of the case, but also to avail of the proper legal remedy that would promote the client's cause. It is clear that respondent neglected the case entrusted to him.

All lawyers owe fidelity to their client's cause. Regardless of their personal views, they must present every remedy or defense within the authority of the law in support of that cause.

Whenever lawyers take on their clients' cause/s, they covenant that they will exercise due diligence in protecting the client's rights; their failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a family makes them unworthy of the trust reposed in them by their client/s and make them answerable to the client, the courts and society.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Joseph Ador A. Ramos is found GUILTY of negligence and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of

law for six months, effective upon receipt of this Decision. He

is WARNED that a repetition of the same or a similar act will

be dealt with more severely.

LEGAL ADVICE GIVEN IN GOOD FAITH NOT A GROUND FOR DISBARMENT Atty. Alan Paguia v. Atty. Manuel Molina A.C. No. 9881, June 4, 2014 Sereno, CJ.

FACTS: The Respondent, Atty. Manuel Molina was charged

by petitioner Atty. Alan Paguia of the administrative Complaint for DISHONESTY for allegedly advising his clients to enforce a contract on the complaint’s client who had never been a party to the agreement. The Investigating Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez recommended the dismissal for lack of merit which was adopted by the IBP Board of Governors. Atty Paguia filed

a motion for reconsideration which was denied. No petition for

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

review has been filed with the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the Court rendered a decision.

The case involves a conflict between neighbours in a four-unit compound named “Times Square” at Times Street, Quezon City. The clients of Atty. Molina, Mr. and Mrs. Lim, entered into a contract with the other unit owners except Mr. Abreu, client of Atty. Paguia regarding the common right of way, parking areas and security. Since, the client of petitioner was not a party to the agreement, it should not be binding as to him. Later on, the parties were involved in cases relating to the agreement. Atty. Paguia then charged Atty. Molina with providing legal advice to the latter’s clients to the effect that the agreement is binding on complainant’s client, Mr. Abreu, who was not a signatory to the agreement.

ISSUE: Is Atty. Molina guilty of dishonesty?

HELD: NO. Although, no appeal was filed, the Supreme Court adopted the resolution of IBP Board dismissing the complaint.

There are two things to be considered in administrative cases against lawyers: quantum of proof, which requires clearly preponderant evidence; and burden of proof, which is on the complaint.

In the present case, the allegation of giving legal advice is without factual basis. The complaint was not substantiated in this case, either in the complaint or in the corresponding hearings. Nowhere do the records state that Atty. Paguia saw respondent giving the legal advice to the clients of the latter. Bare allegations are not proof.

Even if we assume that Atty. Molina did provide his clients legal advice, he still cannot be held administratively liable without any showing that his act was attended with bad faith or malice. An attorney-at-law is not expected to know all the law. For an honest mistake or error, an attorney is not liable. Chief Justice Abbott said that, no attorney is bound to know all the law; God forbid that it should be imagined that an attorney or a counsel, or even a judge, is bound to know all the law.

The default rule is presumption of good faith. On the other hand, bad faith is never presumed and should be proven. In this case, there is no evidence to show that the legal advice, assuming it was indeed given, was coupled with bad faith, malice, or ill-will. The presumption of good faith, therefore, stands in this case.

FALSE DECLARATION IN CERTIFICATE OF NON-FORUM SHOPPING

EUPROCINA I. CRISOSTOMO, MARILYN L. SOLIS, EVELYN MARQUIZO, ROSEMARIE BALATUCAN, MILDRED BATANG, MARILEN MINERALES, AND MELINDA D. SIOTING VS. ATTY. PHILIP Z. A. NAZARENO A.C. No. 6677, June 10, 2014 PERLAS-BERNABE, J.

FACTS: Complainants in this case individually purchased housing units from Rudex International Development Corp. (Rudex). However, due to several inadequacies and construction defects in the housing units and the subdivision itself, complainants sought the rescission of their respective

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

contracts to sell before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). There were 2 batches of rescission cases filed by complainants on different dates. Judgments of default were eventually rendered against Rudex in the first batch of rescission cases.

Rudex then filed 3 petitions for review before the HLURB and in the certifications against forum shopping attached to the said petitions, Rudex, through its President Ruben P. Baes, and legal counsel Atty. Nazareno, stated that it has not commenced or has knowledge of any similar action or proceeding involving the same issues pending before any court, tribunal or agency this, notwithstanding the fact that Rudex, previously filed an ejectment case against Sioting and her husband before the MTC. Several other cases for rescission and ejectment were later filed by Atty. Nazareno, and as in the previous cases, the certifications against forum shopping attached thereto likewise stated the same statement and in 1 case, Atty. Nazareno himself notarized the certification against forum shopping.

Complainants filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Philip Z. A. Nazareno, charging him with making false declarations in the certifications against forum shopping subject of this case in disregard of Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, and malpractice as a notary public since he only assigned 1 document number (i.e., Doc. No. 1968) in all the certifications against forum shopping that were separately attached to the six (6) complaints for rescission and ejectment.

HLURB, dismissed Rudex’s complaints for rescission and ejectment on the ground that its statements in the certifications against forum shopping attached thereto were false due to the existence of similar pending cases in violation of Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court.

IBP Investigating Commissioner recommended the suspension of Atty. Nazareno for a period of six (6) months for his administrative violations.

IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Investigating Commissioner’s Report and Recommendation, but modified the recommended penalty from a suspension of six (6) months to only one (1) month.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Nazareno should be held administratively liable and accordingly suspended for a period of one (1) month.

HELD: YES. The Court affirms the IBP’s findings with modification as to the penalty imposed.

Under Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, the submission of false entries in a certification against forum shopping constitutes indirect or direct contempt of court, and subjects the erring counsel to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Failure to comply with such requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a false certification or non- compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt, as well as a cause for administrative sanctions.

In the realm of legal ethics, said infraction may be considered as a violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code) which read as follows:

CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

CANON 10 A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.

Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

In this case, Records show that Atty. Nazareno, acting as Rudex’s counsel, filed, in August 2003, petitions for review

assailing the judgments of default rendered in the first batch of rescission cases without disclosing in the certifications against forum shopping the existence of the ejectment case it filed against Sps. Sioting which involves an issue related to the complainants’ rescission cases. Further, on January 29, 2004, Rudex, represented by Atty. Nazareno, filed a complaint for rescission and ejectment against Sps. Sioting without disclosing in the certifications against forum shopping the existence of Sioting’s May 24, 2002 rescission complaint against Rudex as well as Rudex’s own September 9, 2002 ejectment complaint also against Sps. Sioting. Finally, on April 1, 2004, Atty. Nazareno, once more filed rescission and ejectment complaints against the other complainants in this case without disclosing in the certifications against forum shopping the existence of complainants’ own complaints for rescission.

In Molina v. Atty. Magat, a penalty of six (6) months suspension from the practice of law was imposed against the lawyer therein who was shown to have deliberately made false and untruthful statements in one of his pleadings. Given that Atty. Nazareno’s infractions are of a similar nature, but recognizing further that he, as may be gleaned from the foregoing discussion, had repetitively committed the same, the Court hereby suspends him from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year.

Separately, the Court further finds Atty. Nazareno guilty of malpractice as a notary public, considering that he assigned only one document number (i.e., Doc. No. 1968) to the certifications against forum shopping attached to the six (6) April 1, 2004 complaints for rescission and ejectment despite

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

the fact that each of them should have been treated as a separate notarial act.

It is a standing rule that for every notarial act, the notary shall

record in the notarial register at the time of the notarization,

among others, the entry and page number of the document notarized, and that he shall give to each instrument or document executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number corresponding to the one in his register. Evidently, Atty. Nazareno did not comply with the foregoing rule. Worse, Atty. Nazareno notarized the certifications against forum shopping attached to all the aforementioned complaints, fully aware that they identically asserted a material falsehood, i.e., that Rudex had not commenced any actions or proceedings or was not aware of any pending actions or proceedings involving the same issues in any other forum.

The administrative liability of an erring notary public in this respect was clearly delineated as a violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code in the case of Heirs of the Late Spouses Villanueva v. Atty. Beradio, to wit:

Where admittedly the notary public has personal knowledge of

a false statement or information contained in the instrument to

be notarized, yet proceeds to affix his or her notarial seal on it,

the Court must not hesitate to discipline the notary public accordingly as the circumstances of the case may dictate. Otherwise, the integrity and sanctity of the notarization process may be undermined and public confidence on notarial documents diminished. In this case, respondent’s conduct amounted to a breach of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional

Responsibility, which requires lawyers to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes. Respondent also violated Rule 1.01 of the Code which proscribes lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.

In said case, the lawyer who knowingly notarized a document containing false statements had his notarial commission revoked and was disqualified from being commissioned as such for a period of one (1) year.

Thus, for his malpractice as a notary public, the Court is wont to additionally impose the same penalties of such nature against him. However, due to the multiplicity of his infractions on this front, coupled with his willful malfeasance in discharging the office, the Court deems it proper to revoke his existing commission and permanently disqualify him from being commissioned as a notary public.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Philip Z. A. Nazareno is found GUILTY of making false declarations in the certifications against forum shopping subject of this case, as well as malpractice as a notary public. Accordingly, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year, effective upon his receipt of this Decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Further, he is PERMANENTLY DISQUALIFIED from being commissioned as a notary public and, his notarial commission, if currently existing, is hereby REVOKED.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Demand for and receipt of exorbitant sums of money from her client purportedly to expedite the proceedings of their case which was pending before the court.

AMADO T. DIZON vs. ATTY. NORLITA DE TAZA A.C. No. 7676, June 10, 2014 REYES, J.:

Facts: Amado Dizon (complainant) alleged that sometime in February 2005, he, along with his siblings engaged the services of Romero De Taza Cruz and Associates to represent them in the case of Eliza T. Castaneda, et al. v. Heirs of Spouses Martin and Lucia Dizon The complainant claimed that sometime in February 2007, Atty. De Taza demanded the sum of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00) from him to expedite the proceedings before the Court. This amount was over and above the parties’ stipulated retainer fee as evidenced by a contract. According to the complainant, unknown to him at that time was that, a month earlier, Atty. De Taza had already demanded and received a total of Eight Hundred Thousand Pesos (P800,000.00) from his sibling Aurora Dizon, for the same reason that Atty. De Taza proffered to him, which was to expedite the proceedings of their case before the Court. Handwritten receipts signed by one Atty. Norlita De Taza were submitted by the complainant. He also attached several affidavits and documents from other individuals who attested that Atty. De Taza issued bouncing checks and/or failed to pay off her debts to them.

On October 24, 2007, the complainant went to this Court in Padre Faura, Manila and learned that the Court had already denied the petition on November 20, 2006, contrary to Atty. De

Taza’s representations that the case was still pending. He tried to communicate with Atty. De Taza, but she could no longer be found. Thereafter, on November 6, 2007, the complainant instituted a complaint for disbarment against Atty. De Taza. On November 14, 2007, the complainant through a letter informed the Court that Atty. De Taza is planning to leave the country as she was joining her husband in the United States of America (U.S.A.).

In a Resolution dated December 10, 2007, Atty. De Taza was required by the Court to file a Comment. However, the copy of the Resolution was returned unserved with the postal carrier’s notation "RTS (Return to Sender)-Moved". The Court then resolved to send a copy to Atty. De Taza’s office address at Romero De Taza Cruz and Associates. Said copy was also returned unserved with the notation "RTS-not connected."

It was then required that the complainant inform the Court of Atty. De Taza’s new address, which the complainant faithfully complied with by giving Atty. De Taza’s new address in the

Like the previous occasions, the copy of the Resolution

with the complaint was returned; this time, with the postal carrier’s notation "RTS-Unclaimed". The Court held that the said copy of the Resolution was deemed served and resolved to

consider Atty. De Taza as having waived the filing of her comment. The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.

U.S.A

In its Report and Recommendation, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended that Atty. De Taza be suspended for a period of two years from the practice of law. The IBP Board of Governors modified the Commission on Bar Discipline’s

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

recommendation in a Resolution and suspended her from the practice of law for ONE YEAR.

ISSUE: WHETHER ATTY. DE TAZA SHOULD BE HELD ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE FOR ISSUING BOUNCING CHECKS, DEMANDING AND/OR RECEIVING MONEY FROM HER CLIENTS UNDERTHE GUISE OF HAVING THE PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COURT EXPEDITED

RULING: Based on the documentary evidence submitted by the complainant, it appears that Atty. De Taza manifested a propensity for borrowing money, issuing bouncing checks and incurring debts which she left unpaid without any reason. The complainant even submitted a document evidencing Atty. De Taza’s involvement in an estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) No. 22 case. Such conduct, while already off- putting when attributed to an ordinary person, is much more abhorrent when the same is exhibited by a member of the Bar. As a lawyer, Atty. De Taza must remember that she is not only a symbol but also an instrument of justice, equity and fairness.

We have held that the issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyer’s unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render her unworthy of public confidence. Atty. De Taza’s actuations towards the complainant and his siblings were even worse as she had the gall to make it appear to the complainant that the proceedings before the Court can be expedited and ruled in their favor in exchange for an exorbitant amount of money. Said scheme was employed by Atty. De Taza just to milk more money from her clients. Without a doubt, Atty. De Taza’s actions are

reprehensible and her greed more than apparent when she even used the name of the Court to defraud her client.

When a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is bound to render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent for that particular purpose. And if he does not use the money for the intended purpose, the lawyer must immediately return the money to his client. In this case, the purpose for which Atty. De Taza demanded money is baseless and non-existent. Thus, her demand should not have even been made in the first place.

Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provides for the disbarment or suspension of a lawyer for any of the following: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross misconduct in office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (6) violation of the lawyer’s oath; (7) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (8) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority to do so.

"Law is a noble profession, and the privilege to practice it is bestowed only upon individuals who are competent intellectually, academically and, equally important, morally. Because they are vanguards of the law and the legal system, lawyers must at all times conduct themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach." All told, the Court holds that there is no reason to deviate from the report and recommendation of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline which is to suspend Atty. De Taza from the practice of law for two years.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Norlita De Taza is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for TWO YEARS with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar infraction would be dealt with more severely.

Various instances of misconduct in the performance of his duties.

SAMONTE vs ABELLANA A.C. No. 3452, June 23, 2014 BERSAMIN, J.:

Facts: On February 16, 1990, complainant Henry E. Samonte brought this administrative complaint against respondent Atty. Gines N. AbelJana who had represented him as the plaintiff in Civil Case No. CEB-6970 entitled Capt. Henry E. Samonte v. Authographics, Inc., and Nelson Yu of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City. In the administrative complaint, Samonte enumerated the serious acts of professional misconduct by Atty. Abellana, to wit: (1) Falsification of documents, when Atty. Abellana made it appear that he had filed Civil Case No. CEB- 6970 on June 10, 1988, conformably with their agreement, although the complaint was actually filed on June 14, 1988; (2) Dereliction of duty, when Atty. Abellana failed to: (a) file the reply vis-à-vis the answer with counterclaim, with his omission having delayed the pre-trial of the case; (b) inform the trial court beforehand that Samonte could not be available on a scheduled hearing, thereby incurring for the plaintiff’s side an unexplained absence detrimental to Samonte as the plaintiff; and (c) submit an exhibit required by the trial judge, only to eventually submit it three months later; (3) Gross negligence and tardiness in

attending the scheduled hearings; and (4) Dishonesty for not issuing official receipts for every cash payments made by Samonte for his court appearances and his acceptance of the case.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Abellana is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility as the Counsel of the petitioner?

HELD: YES. In his dealings with his client and with the courts, every lawyer is expected to be honest, imbued with integrity, and trustworthy. These expectations, though high and demanding, are the professional and ethical burdens of every member of the Philippine Bar, for they have been given full expression in the Lawyer’s Oath that every lawyer of this country has taken upon admission as a bona fide member of the Law Profession.

By the Lawyer’s Oath is every lawyer enjoined not only to obey the laws of the land but also to refrain from doing any falsehood in or out of court or from consenting to the doing of any in court, and to conduct himself according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients. Every lawyer is a servant of the Law, and has to observe and maintain the rule of law as well as be an exemplar worthy of emulation by others. It is by no means a coincidence, therefore, that honesty, integrity and trustworthiness are emphatically reiterated by the Code of Professional Responsibility.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

VIOLATION OF NOTARIAL PRACTICE LAW

Victor Lingan VS. Attys. Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy P. Baliga A.C. No. 5377, June 15, 2013 Corona, J.

FACTS: A complaint for disbarment was filed by Victor Lingan against Attys. Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy Baliga on November16, 2000. Complainant alleged that respondents both as notaries public falsified certain public documents, as follows:

1. A complaint for annulment of title with damages filed by Isaac Villegas against complainant with the RTC of Tuguegarao. Respondent Calubaquib signed the verification and certification of non-forum shopping of the complainant as notary public and entered the same as Doc. No. 182, Page No. 38, Book No. CLXXII, Series of 1996, which according to the National Archives that such document number actually pertains to an affidavit of one Daniel Malayao,

2. A special power of attorney dated September 10, 1996 executed by Isaac Villegas appointing respondent Calubaquib as his attorney-in-fact to “enter into a compromise agreement under such terms and conditions acceptable to him” which was notarized by respondent Baliga and entered as Doc. No. 548, Page No. 110; Book No. VIII; Series of 1996, which according to respondent Baliga’s notarial register, such document number pertains to an affidavit of loss of one Pedro Telan, dated August 26, 1996.

3. A petition for reappointment as notary public for and in Tuguegarao,Cagayan by respondent Baliga, which was

notarized by respondent Calubaquib and entered in his notarial register as Doc. No. 31, Page No. 08, Book No. CXXX, Series of 1995. However, Notarial Register BookNo. CXXX was for the year 1996 and entered there as Doc. No. 31, Page No. 08 was acancellation of real estate mortgage dated January 11, 1996.

In his answer, respondent Baliga admitted the incorrectness of the entries and simply attributed them to the inadvertence in good faith of his secretary to whom he had left the task of entering all his notarial documents.

Respondent Calubaquibs comment, howevever, questioned the complainant's motives. He also stated that complainant had filed a case for falsification of documents against him with the Ombudsman but it was dismissed.

In the end, however, he (like his co-respondent Baliga) admitted to the mistaken entries and also ascribed the same to his legal assistants. Similarly, by way of defense, he pointed out that the Notarial Law provides that only contracts need to have their copies included in thenotarial records. It does not require affidavits, verifications or subscriptions of petitions which are mere allegations of facts to be entered in the NotarialRegister, despite widespread practice to the contrary.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondents violated the Notarial Practice Law .

HELD: Yes. Respondents Calubaquib and Baliga violated the Notarial Practice Law

It is abundantly clear that the notary public is personally accountable for all entries in his notarial register. Section 245

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

of the Notarial Law provides that every notary public shall keep a register to be known as the notarial register, wherein record shall be made of all his official acts as notary; and he shall supply a certified copy of such record, or any part thereof, to any person applying for it and paying the legal fees therefore.

Section 246 of the same law also provides that the notary public shall enter in such register, in chronological order, the nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument, the witnesses, if any, to the signature, the date of execution, oath, or acknowledgment of the instrument, the fees collected by him for his services as notary in connection therewith, and, when the instrument is a contract, he shall keep a correct copy thereof as part of his records, and shall likewise enter in said records a brief description of the substance thereof and shall give to each entry a consecutive number, beginning with number one in each calendar year. The notary shall give to each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also state on the instrument the page or pages of his register on which the same is recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries.

In this connection, Section 249(b) provides that the failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial register touching his notarial acts in the manner required by law shall, in the discretion of the proper judge of first instance, be sufficient ground for the revocation of his commission:

Respondents cannot be relieved of responsibility for the violation of the aforesaid sections by passing the buck to their secretaries, a reprehensible practice which to this day persists despite our opencondemnation.

Notarization is not an empty, meaningless or routinary act but one invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized to do so may act as notaries public.The protection of that interest necessarily requires that those not qualified or authorized to act must beprevented from inflicting themselves upon the public, the courts and the administrative offices in general. Notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public

one and makes it

proof of its authenticity. Notaries public must therefore observe utmost care with respect to the basic requirements of their duties.

admissible in evidence without further

Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, respondents Atty. Romeo I. C alubaquib and Atty.Jimmy P. Baliga are hereby found guilty of violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and of their lawyer’s oath. Hence, both resopndents are suspended for one year.

NOTARIAL PRACTICE: MISCONDUCT AND GRIEVOUS VIOLATION OF OATH AS A NOTARY PUBLIC

Mercedita de Jesus v. Atty. Juvy Mell Sanchez-Malit

A.C. No. 64701 Sereno, CJ

July 8, 2014

FACTS: In the Affidavit-Complaint filed by complainant before the Office of the Bar Confidant on 23 June 2004, she alleged that on 1 March 2002, respondent had drafted and notarized a Real Estate Mortgage of a public market stall that falsely named the former as its absolute and registered owner. As a result, the mortgagee sued complainant for perjury and for collection of sum of money. Prior thereto, respondent had also

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

notarized two contracts that caused complainant legal and financial problems. One contract was a lease agreement notarized by respondent without the signature of the lessees. The other contract was a sale agreement over a property covered by a Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA). Respondent drafted and notarized said agreement, but did not advise complainant that the property was still covered by the period within which it could not be alienated.

In her Comment, respondent explained that the mortgage contract was prepared in the presence of complainant. However, complainant urgently needed the loan proceeds so the contract was hastily done. It was only copied from a similar file in respondent’s computer, and the phrase "absolute and registered owner" was inadvertently left unedited. Still, it should not be a cause for disciplinary action, because complainant constructed the subject public market stall under a "Build Operate and Transfer" contract with the local government unit and, technically, she could be considered its owner. Moreover, the cause of the perjury charge against complainant was not the representation of herself as owner of the mortgaged property, but her guarantee that it was free from all liens and encumbrances.

The IBP Investigating Commissioner recommended the immediate revocation of the Notarial Commission of respondent and her disqualification as notary public for two years for her violation of her oath as such by notarizing documents without the signatures of the parties who had purportedly appeared before her. The IBP Board of Governors, unanimously adopted and approved the recommendation, with

the modification that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year.

ISSUE:

grievous violation of her oath as a notary public?

W/N respondent is guilty of misconduct and

HELD: Yes. The important role a notary public performs cannot be overemphasized. The Court has repeatedly stressed that notarization is not an empty, meaningless routinary act, but one invested with substantive public interest. Notarization converts a private document into a public document, making it admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity. Thus, a notarized document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. It is for this reason that a notary public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of his notarial duties; otherwise, the public's confidence in the integrity of a notarized document would be undermined.

Where the notary public admittedly has personal knowledge of

a false statement or information contained in the instrument to

be notarized, yet proceeds to affix the notarial seal on it, the Court must not hesitate to discipline the notary public

accordingly as the circumstances of the case may dictate. Otherwise, the integrity and sanctity of the notarization process may be undermined, and public confidence in notarial documents diminished. In this case, respondent fully knew that complainant was not the owner of the mortgaged market stall. That complainant comprehended the provisions of the real estate mortgage contract does not make respondent any less

guilty. If at all, it only heightens the latter’s liability for tolerating

a wrongful act. Clearly, respondent’s conduct amounted to a

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

breach of Canon 122 and Rules 1.0123 and 1.0224 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Respondent’s explanation about the unsigned lease agreement executed by complainant sometime in September 199925 is incredulous. If, indeed, her file copy of the agreement bore the lessees’ signatures, she could have given

complainant a certified photocopy thereof. It even appears that said lease agreement is not a rarity in respondent’s practice as

a notary public. Records show that on various occasions from

2002 to 2004, respondent has notarized 22 documents that were either unsigned or lacking signatures of the parties. Technically, each document maybe a ground for disciplinary action, for it is the duty of a notarial officer to demand that a document be signed in his or her presence.

A notary public should not notarize a document unless the

persons who signed it are the very same ones who executed it and who personally appeared before the said notary public to attest to the contents and truth of what are stated therein. Thus, in acknowledging that the parties personally came and appeared before her, respondent also violated Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and her oath as a lawyer that she shall do no falsehood. Certainly, respondent is unfit to continue enjoying the solemn office of a notary public. In several instances, the Court did not hesitate to disbar lawyers who were found to be utterly oblivious to the solemnity of their oath as notaries public.30 Even so, the rule is that disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and the Court will not disbar a lawyer where

a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end.31 The blatant disregard by respondent of her basic duties as a notary public warrants the less severe punishment of suspension from the practice of law and perpetual disqualification to be commissioned as a notary public.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Juvy Mell Sanchez-Malit is found guilty of violating Canon 1 and Rules 1.01, 1.02, and 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility as well as her oath as notary public. Hence, she is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE YEAR effective immediately. Her notarial commission, if still existing, is IMMEDIATELY REVOKED and she is hereby PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from being commissioned as a notary public.

Lawyers who have been suspended. A lawyer’s failure to return upon demand the funds held by him gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use, in violation of the trust reposed in him by his client and of the public confidence in the legal profession.

MELODY R. NERY, complainant, vs. ATTY. GLICERIO A. SAMPANA, respondent. A.C. No. 10196, 9 September 2014, 734 SCRA 486 J. Carpio

FACTS: This is a disbarment complaint filed by Melody R. Nery (Nery) against Atty. Glicerio A. Sampana (Sampana) for failing to file the petition for adoption despite receiving his legal fees and for making Nery believe that the petition was already filed.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

In June 2008, Nery engaged the services of Sampana for the annulment of her marriage and for her adoption by an alien adopter. The petitioner for the annulment of marriage was eventually granted and Nery paid Sampana Php 200,000. For the adoption, Nery stated in her verified complaint that on 2009, Nery was led to believe by Sampana that the petition for adoption was filed and under going publication with Branch 11 of Malolos, Bulacan, after Sampana has advised and provided for a blurred marriage certificate of her aunt with the alien adopter, but when Nery went to the said Court to ask for an update, she was informed that no such case was filed and/or pending with the court. Nery then confronted Sampana to return the Php 100,000.00 paid for the failure to file the adoption case but Sampana wanted to deduct Php 12,000.00 filing fee despited not having filed any case.

Sampana, on his position paper posits that Nery paid a “one package fee” for both of Nery’s cases. Further, that Nery could have mistaken the annulment proceedings due to her insistence of being adopted despite Sampana’s wariness with proceeding with the adoption case because of the alien adopter’s old age, civil status and nationality. Relatively, Sampana has already prepared the papers for the filing of the adoption case but because of the lack of the certification of the marriage certificate provided for he cannot proceed with the filing.

IBP’s Report Commissioner Antiquiera recommended to have Sampana suspended for 3 month from the practice of law for malpractice of law. This recommendation is then adopted and approved such recommendation with modification with the order of return of the Php 100,000 to Nery.

Issue: 1. Whether or not Sampana is guilty of malpractice of law. 2.Whether or not the recommendation of the IBP is proper

Held:

1. Yes, Sampana is guilty of malpractice of law.

CANON 15 A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his client. CANON 16 A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. x x x. CANON 17 A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. CANON 18 A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence. Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the client’s cause. Every case accepted by a lawyer deserves full attention, diligence, skill and competence, regardless of importance. A lawyer also owes it to the court, their clients, and other lawyers to be candid and fair. In the present case, Sampana admitted that he received one package fee” for both cases of annulment and adoption. Despite receiving this fee, he unjustifiably failed to file the petition for adoption and fell short of his duty of due diligence and candor to his client. Sampana’s proffered excuse of waiting for the certification before filing the petition for adoption is disingenuous and flimsy. In his position paper, he suggested to Nery that if the alien adopter would be married to

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

her close relative, the intended adoption could be possible. Under the Domestic Adoption Act provision, which Sampana suggested, the alien adopter can jointly adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of his/her Filipino spouse, and the certification of the alien’s qualification to adopt is waived. Having no valid reason not to file the petition for adoption, Sampana misinformed Nery of the status of the petition. He then conceded that the annulment case overshadowed the petition for adoption. Verily, Sampana neglected the legal matter entrusted to him. He even kept the money given him, in violation of the Code’s mandate to deliver the client’s funds upon demand. A lawyer’s failure to return upon demand the funds held by him gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use, in violation of the trust reposed in him by his client and of the public confidence in the legal profession.

2. Yes, the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors is well-taken, except as to the penalty.

This is not the first administrative case filed against Sampana. In Lising v. Sampana, 13 we already found Sampana guilty of violating Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for his unethical and illegal act relative to his double sale of a parcel of land. We imposed upon him the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year and warned him that a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt with more severely. In Rollon v. Naraval, 14 we imposed upon the respondent therein the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for two (2) years for failing to render any legal service after receiving the filing and partial service fee. Considering the serious consequence of disbarment and the previous rulings of this Court, we deem it proper to increase the penalty

for Sampana’s malpractice and violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility to suspension from the practice of law for three (3) years. WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Glicerio A. Sampana from the practice of law for THREE (3) YEARS with a stern warning that a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt with more severely. We also ORDER Atty. Glicerio A. Sampana to RETURN to complainant Melody R. Nery the amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00), with 12% interest per annum from the time of his receipt of the full amount of money on 17 November 2008 until 30 June 2013, then 6% interest per annum from 1 July 2013 until fully paid.

FILING OF FRIVOLOUS ADMINISTRATIVE AND CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS BY A LAWYER

MADRID VS. DELCA A.C. NO. 7474 SEPTEMBER 9, 2014 BERSAMIN, J.;

FACTS: On February 7, 2007, Atty. Juan S. Dealca entered his appearance in Criminal Case No. 2006-6795, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Philip William Arsenault" then pending in Branch 51 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Sorsogon City, presided by complainant Judge Jose L. Madrid as replacement for Atty. Vicente Judar who had filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for the accused. Atty. Dealca moved that the said case be re-raffled to another Branch of the RTC "[c]onsidering the adverse incidents between the incumbent Presiding Judge and the undersigned," where "he does not appear before the incumbent Presiding Judge, and the latter

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

does not also hear cases handled by the undersigned”. Judge Madrid denied Atty. Dealca's motion to re-raffle and consequently, Judge Madrid filed a letter complaint in the Office of the Bar Confidant citing Atty. Dealca's unethical practice of entering his appearance and then moving for the inhibition of the presiding judge on the pretext of previous adverse incidents between them. The Court referred the matter to the IBP for appropriate investigation, report and recommendation.

IBP Commissioner Salvador B. Hababag ultimately submitted his Report and Recommendation finding Atty. Dealca guilty of violating the Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility by filing frivolous administrative and criminal complaints; and recommending that Atty. Dealca be suspended from the practice of law for one year because his motion to inhibit Judge Madrid was devoid of factual or legal basis, and was grounded on purely personal whims. Judge Madrid filed a petition, which the IBP Board of Governors treated as a motion for reconsideration, and soon denied.

ISSUE: Did Atty. Dealca file frivolous administrative and criminal complaints against judges and court personnel in violation of the Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility?|||

HELD: YES.

Atty. Dealca must guard against his own impulse of initiating unfounded suits

Atty. Dealca exhibited his proclivity for vindictiveness and penchant for harassment, considering that, as IBP

Commissioner Hababag pointed out, his bringing of charges against judges, court personnel and even his colleagues in the Law Profession had all stemmed from decisions or rulings being adverse to his clients or his side. The Lawyer's Oath is a source of obligations and duties for every lawyer, and any violation thereof by an attorney constitutes a ground for disbarment, suspension, or other disciplinary action. The oath exhorts upon the members of the Bar not to "wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit." These are not mere facile words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust that must be upheld and keep inviolable.

As a lawyer, therefore, Atty. Dealca was aware of his duty under his Lawyer's Oath not to initiate groundless, false or unlawful suits. Atty. Dealca must be mindful of his mission to assist the courts in the proper administration of justice. He disregarded his mission because his filing of the unfounded complaints, including this one against Judge Madrid, increased the workload of the Judiciary. Atty. Dealca's bringing of the numerous administrative and criminal complaints against judges, court personnel and his fellow lawyers did not evince any good faith on his part, considering that he made allegations against them therein that he could not substantially prove, and are rightfully deemed frivolous and unworthy of the Court's precious time and serious consideration.

Atty. Dealca violated Canon 11 and Rule 11.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Canon 11 and Rule 11.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility pertinently state:

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Canon 11 A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect

due to the courts and to the judicial officers and should insist

on similar conduct by others.

xxx xxx xxx

Rule 11.04 A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives

not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case.

The right of a party to seek the inhibition or disqualification of a judge who does not appear to be wholly free, disinterested, impartial and independent in handling the case must be balanced with the latter's sacred duty to decide cases without fear of repression. Thus, it was incumbent upon Atty. Dealca to establish by clear and convincing evidence the ground of bias and prejudice in order to disqualify Judge Madrid from participating in a particular trial in which Atty. Dealca was participating as a counsel.The latter's bare allegations of Judge Madrid's partiality or hostility did not suffice,because the presumption that Judge Madrid would undertake his noble role to dispense justice according to law and the evidence and without fear or favor should only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. As such, Atty. Dealca clearly contravened his duties as a lawyer as expressly stated in Canon 11 and Rule 11.04, supra.

This is not the first administrative complaint to be ever brought against Atty. Dealca. In Montano v. Integrated Bar of the Philippines, we reprimanded him for violating Canon 22 and Rule 20.4, Canon 20 of the Code of Professional

Responsibility, and warned him that a repetition of the same offense would be dealt with more severely. Accordingly, based on the penalties the Court imposed on erring lawyers found violating Canon 1, Rule 1.03, and Canon 11, Rule 11.04 of the Code, we deem appropriate to suspend Atty. Dealca from the practice of law for a period one year. a|||

The Court FINDS and DECLARES respondent ATTY. JUAN S. DEALCA GUILTY of violating Canon 1, Rule 1.03 and Canon 11, Rule 11.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for one year effective from notice of this decision, with a STERN WARNING that any similar infraction in the future will be dealt with more severely.

SUI GENERIS; CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

MARIANO R. CRISTOBAL, Complainant, v. ATTY. RONALDO E. RENTA, Respondent. A.C. No. 9925, September 17, 2014

FACTS:

1. Mariano Cristobal engaged the services of Renta Pe & Associates Law Office for the filing of a “petition for recognition for the minors Codie Darnell Green and Matthew Darnell Green” before the Bureau of Immigration.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

2.

Respondent, Atty. Ronaldo Renta, as the managing partner

ISSUES:

signed the “Special Contract of Legal Services” in behalf of said law office. Respondent also received from complainant the “full and package price” of P160,000 for the filing of the petition for recognition.

3. No such petition, however, was filed.

4. Thus, the instant complaint was filed against Atty. Renta for

A. Does the complainant’s execution of affidavit of desistance have the effect of abating the instant proceedings against respondent?

B. Did Atty. Renta violate the Code of Professional Responsibility?

the latter’s failure to file the petition for recognition and return the amount of P160,000 despite demand.

HELD:

5.

Atty. Renta explained that the petition for recognition was

A.

No. On complainant’s affidavit of desistance, we hold

not filed because Anneth Tan, the one supposed to file the petition, misplaced it and did not inform him of such fact. He also claimed that he begged complainant to forgive him and

that its execution cannot have the effect of abating the instant proceedings against respondent in view of the public service character of the practice of law and the

assured him that he will return the money.

nature of disbarment proceedings as a public interest concern. A case of suspension or disbarment is sui

6.

However, respondent failed to refund the money on time for

generis and not meant to grant relief to a complainant

he was “hard up in funds.” Eventually, he was able to save enough and refunded the money to complainant. Respondent likewise begs forgiveness from the Court and promises not to repeat his mistake.

 

as in a civil case, but is intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its undesirable members in order to protect the public and the courts. A disbarment case is not an investigation into the acts of respondent but on his conduct as an officer of the court

7.

In addition, respondent submitted complainant’s Affidavit of

and his fitness to continue as a member of the Bar.

Desistance. In the said affidavit, complainant said that respondent cried for forgiveness and that he has forgiven him. Complainant confirmed that respondent had already refunded the amount he paid.

B. Yes.

8. Cristobal was required to file his reply to Atty. Renta’s

comment. In his Reply, complainant confirmed the contents of his affidavit of desistance, the refund made by respondent and his act of forgiving the respondent for the latter’s misdeeds.

CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

x x x x

Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Here, it is beyond doubt that respondent breached his duty to serve complainant with diligence and neglected a legal matter entrusted to him. He himself admits that the petition for recognition was not filed, seeks forgiveness from the Court and promises not to repeat his mistake. Complainant also submitted official letters from the Bureau of Immigration that indeed no such petition was filed. That Anneth Tan supposedly lost the petition for recognition and failed to inform respondent cannot absolve him of liability for it was his duty not to neglect complainant’s case and handle it with diligence.

The Court notes, however, that while respondent failed to refund immediately the amount paid by complainant, he nevertheless exerted earnest efforts that he eventually was able to fully repay complainant and begged complainant’s forgiveness.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Ronaldo E. Renta is LIABLE for violation of Canon 18 and Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and he is hereby REPRIMANDED with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.

GROSS MISCONDUCT OF A LAWYER

ROLANDO VIRAY VS ATTY. EUGENIO T. SANICAS A.C. No. 7337, September 29,2014 Del Castillo, J.

A Lawyer’s Failure To Immediately Account For And Return The Money When Due And Upon Demand Violated The Trust

Reposed In Him, Demonstrated His Lack Of Integrity And Moral Soundness, And Warrants The Imposition Of Disciplinary Action

The Facts: Rolando (Viray) engaged the services of Atty. Eugenio (Sanicas) in a labor case he filed against the spouses Ester and Teodoro Lopez III, for which an award of P189,491.00 was given to him. When the Alias Writ of Execution was issued in the case, and when it was implemented, he learned that Eugenio had already collected the amount of P95,000.00, which he did from February 5, 2004 to April 30, 2004. He learned that Eugenio misrepresented to the spouses Lopez that he is authorized to receive the payments in behalf of Roger, when in truth he was not. Despite demand from Roger to return the amount, Eugenio failed thus he filed an administrative case against Eugenio for gross misconduct.

In his Comment, Eugenio admitted receiving from the spouses the amount of P95,000.00 but averred that he was authorized to receive it. Their agreement was for him to receive 25% of the award as attorneys fees; deducting P17, 226.57 (25%) from the award, P100,000.00 will be given to Roger as the amount he expected to receive from the case, and the balance to be given to him as part of the professional fee and reimbursement of his expenses in handling the case. After receiving the P95,000.00, he gave P17,000.00 to Roger, deducting P20,000.00 as his professional fee, and giving to the sheriff P2,000.00, it left him with only P56,000.00 more or less, way below his P72,000.00 agreed attorneys fees and reimbursement. Roger was still entitled to receive more than

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

what he expected since there remains P93,491.00 to be collected from spouses plus the P17,000.00 he earlier gave.

The IBP, in its a report and recommendation, recommended that Eugenio be suspended from the practice of law for two years, and to return all the amounts he collected.

The Issue: Is Atty. Eugenio Sanicas guilty of gross misconduct?

The Court’s ruling: YES. Sanicas is guilty of gross misconduct.

Specifically, Rule 16.01 of the Code imposes upon the lawyer the duty to “account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.” Rule 16.03 thereof, on the other hand, mandates that “[a] lawyer shall deliver the funds x x x of his client when due or upon demand.”

In this case, respondent on nine separate occasions received payments for attorney’s fees and partial payments for monetary awards on behalf of complainant from spouses Lopez. But despite the number of times over close to three months he had been receiving payment, respondent neither informed the complainant of such fact nor rendered an accounting thereon. It was only when an Alias Writ of Execution was issued and being implemented when complainant discovered that spouses Lopez had already given respondent the total amount of P95,000.00 as partial payment for the monetary awards granted to him by the labor tribunal.

To make matters worse, respondent withheld and refused to deliver to the complainant said amount, which he merely received on behalf of his client, even after demand. Complainant brought the matter before the barangay, but respondent simply ignored the same. Such failure and inordinate refusal on the part of the respondent to render an accounting and return the money after demand raises the presumption that he converted it to his own use. His unjustified withholding of the funds also warrants the imposition of disciplinary action against him.

In sum, “[r]espondent’s failure to immediately account for and return the money when due and upon demand violated the trust reposed in him, demonstrated his lack of integrity and moral soundness, and warrants the imposition of disciplinary action.”

Hence, respondent Atty. Eugenio T. Sanicas is of gross misconduct and is suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act or offense shall be dealt with more severely.

Territorial limitation of a notary public’s jurisdiction FELIPE B. ALMAZAN, SR. vs. ATTY. MARCELO B. SUERTE-FELIPE

A.C. No. 7184

September 17, 2014

PONENTE: ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

FACTS: In a Complaint 1 dated April 27, 2006, complainant Felipe B. Almazan, Sr. charged respondent, previously of the

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Public Attorney's Office, for malpractice and gross negligence in the performance of his duty as a notary public and/or lawyer, alleging that the latter, despite not having been registered as a notary public for the City of Marikina, notarized the acknowledgment of the document entitled "Extra judicial Settlement of the Estate of the Deceased Juliana P. Vda. De Nieva" dated "25th day of 1999" (subject document), stating that he is a "notary public for and in the City of Marikina." To prove his claim, complainant attached a Certification dated May 26, 2005 issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Marikina City, certifying that per the court’s record, respondent is not a commissioned notary public for the Cityof Marikina from March 30, 1994 to the date of issuance.

In a Resolution, the Court required respondent to file his Comment. In said pleading, respondent admitted that he indeed notarized the acknowledgment of the subject document but denied that he was not commissioned as a notary public at that time. To prove his defense, he attached a Certification dated August 23, 2006 issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court of the RTC of Pasig City, certifying the fact of his appointment as notary public for the City of Pasig and in the Municipalities of Taguig, Pateros, San Juan, and Mandaluyong for the years 1998-1999 under Appointment No. 98.

The Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.

The IBP Investigating Commissioner found respondent guilty for violating the Notarial Law and the lawyer’s oath, reasoning that he could not notarize the acknowledgment of the subject

document in Marikina City as it was outside the territorial limits

of his jurisdiction. To this end, the Investigating Commissioner

pointed out that in the acknowledgment of the subject document, it was categorically stated that respondent is a

notary public for and in the City of Marikina, Province of Rizal,

of which he was not, hence, violating the Notarial Law.

Moreover,respondent likewise violated the lawyer’s oath, specifically its mandate for lawyers, to obey the laws and do no falsehood. It was recommended that respondent be suspended for a period of two (2) years from the practice of law.

The IBP Board of Governors imposed the penalty of reprimand

with warning, and disqualification from being commissioned as

a notary public for the decreased period of one (1) year.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent should be held guilty of malpractice as a notary public

RULING: YES. The territorial limitation of a notary public’s

jurisdiction is crystal clear from Section 11, Rule III of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice: 23 Sec. 11. Jurisdiction and Term

A person commissioned as notary public may perform notarial

acts in any place within the territorial jurisdiction of the commissioning court for a period of two (2) years commencing the first day of January of the year in which the commissioning court is made, unless either revoked or the notary public has resigned under these Rules and the Rules of Court.

Respondent, who himself admitted that he was commissioned

as notary public only in the City of Pasig and the Municipalities

of Taguig, Pateros, San Juan, and Mandaluyong for the years

1998-1999, could not notarize the subject document’s

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

acknowledgment in the City of Marikina, as said notarial act is beyond the jurisdiction of the commissioning court, i.e.,the RTC of Pasig.

For misrepresenting in the said acknowledgment that he was a notary public for and in the City of Marikina, when it is apparent and, in fact, uncontroverted that he was not, respondent further committed a form of falsehood which is undoubtedly anathema to the lawyer’s oath. Perceptibly, said transgression also runs afoul of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."

It cannot be over-emphasized that notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. Far from it.1âwphi1Notarization is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. Hence, the requirements for the issuance of a commission as notary public are treated with a formality definitely more than casual.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Marcelo B. Suerte-Felipe is found GUILTY of malpractice as a notary public, and violating the lawyer’s oath as well as Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, effective upon his receipt of this Resolution. He is likewise DISQUALIFIED from being commissioned as a notary public for a period of one (1) year and his notarial commission, if currently existing, is hereby REVOKED.

Doctrine: ABSOLUTE PROHIBITION AGAINST REPRESENTING CONFLICTING INTERESTS Daging v. Davis A.C. No. 9395; November 12, 2014 Del Castillo, J.

Facts: Complainant, owner and operator of Nashville Country Music Lounge, leased from Pinlac a building space where she operated said bar. During said lease, complainant entered into a Retainer Agreement with respondent’s law firm. Because complainant was delinquent in paying the monthly rentals, Pinlac terminated the lease, inventoried the bar’s equipment and informed the former that Balageo will take over the operation of the bar. Complainant then filed an ejectment suit against Pinlac and Balageo before MTCC Baguio where respondent appeared as counsel for Balageo despite the susbsistence of the Retainer Agreement. The complainant then filed an administrative complaint for disbarment before the IBP (Benguet Chapter) against respondent, Atty. Riz Tingalon Davis. After finding respondent guilty of betrayal of his client’s trust and for misuse of information obtained from his client to the disadvantage of the latter and to the advantage of another person, the IBP imposed the penalty of six months suspension from the practice of law.

RESPONDENT’S CONTENTION: Complainant’s case is actually handled only by his partner Atty. Sabling thus, he is not privy to any transaction between the two and has no knowledge of any information or legal matter the former entrusted/confided to the latter. He claims that he could not

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

have taken advantage of an information obtained by his law firm by virtue of the Retainer Agreement.

Issue: WoN the respondent is guilty of betrayal of his client’s trust.

Held: YES. Based on the established facts, it is indubitable that respondent transgressed Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It provides that “a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.”

"A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client." The prohibition against representing conflicting interests is absolute and the rule applies even if the lawyer has acted in good faith and with no intention to represent conflicting interests. This Court emphasized that lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.

The Court also held that a lawyer who takes up the cause of the adversary of the party who has engaged the services of his law firm brings the law profession into public disrepute and suspicion and undermines the integrity of justice. Undeniably aware of the fact that complainant is a client of his law firm, respondent should have immediately informed both the complainant and Balageo that he, as well as

the other members of his law firm, cannot represent any of them in their legal tussle; otherwise, they would be representing conflicting interests and violate the Code of Professional Responsibility. Indeed, respondent could have simply advised both complainant and Balageo to instead engage the services of another lawyer.

The penalty for representing conflicting interests may either be reprimand or suspension from the practice of law ranging from six months to two years.

SUSPENSION OF A LAWYER FOR VIOLATION OF BP 22 AND FAILURE TO PAY HIS DEBTS ESTRELLA R. SANCHEZ, Complainant, vs. ATTY. NICOLAS C. TORRES, M.D., Respondent

A.C. No. 10240

November 25, 2014

[Formerly CBD No. 11-3241]

FACTS: In her complaint, Sanchez claimed that she is a friend and close acquaintance of Atty. Torres. That in 2007, Atty. Torres asked Sanchez to lend him money in the amount of Two Million Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P2,200,000.00), and convinced her that he will pay the said amount within a period of one (1) month, plus interest. To bolster Sanchez's trust and confidence, Atty. Torres issued two (2) Allied Bank checks amounting to P1,200,000.00 and P1,000,000.00, respectively. However, after one (1) month,Atty. Torres failed to pay his obligation as promised. On May 2, 2008, Sanchez deposited the said checks to her account, but the same were returned due to "ACCOUNT CLOSED." Despite repeated

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

demands for the last three (3) years, Atty. Torres had yet to pay his obligation since then, and thus, complainant sought legal assistance.

On November 28, 2011, the IBPCommission on Bar Discipline (CBD) required Atty. Torres to file an answer. Despite sufficient time for respondent Atty. Torres to file his answer, he failed to do so. Worse, he even failed to appear in the scheduled mandatory conference despite due notice. Thus, in its Report and Recommendation 9 dated June 15, 2012, the IBP-CBD found Atty. Torres guilty of willful dishonesty and unethical conduct for failure to pay just debt and for issuing checks without sufficient funds. It recommended that Atty. Torres be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law for at least two (2) years.

ISSUES:

1. WHETHER OR NOT A LAWYER MAY BE SUSPENDED FOR AN OFFENSE COMMITTED IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY?

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE SUSPENSION OF THE ATTY TORRES IS CORRECT?

COURT’S RULING:

1. YES. Deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of justice and

vanguards of our legal system. They are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing so that the people’s faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. They must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, the courts and to their clients, which include prompt payment of financial obligations. They must conduct themselves in a manner that reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 explicitly states: Canon 1A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes.

Rule 1.01A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

The Court notes Atty. Torres' conduct in the course of the proceedings where he repeatedly asked for extensions of time to file an answer and a motion for reconsideration, which he failed to submit, and his failure to attend the disciplinary hearings set by the IBP do not speak well of his standing as a lawyer. In Ngayan v. Tugade, we ruled that "[a lawyer’s] failure to answer the complaint against him and his failure to appear at the investigation are evidence of his flouting resistance to lawful orders of the court and illustrate his despiciency for his oath of office in violation of Section 3, Rule 138, Rules of Court.

2. Yes. Deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless checks constitute gross

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with one-year suspension from the practice of law. The Court deem it proper to adopt the penalty of two (2) years suspension in light of the amount involved and the brazen disregard by Atty. Torres of the Orders of the IBP-CBD on the filing of an answer and appearance in the hearing. We cannot sustain, however, the IBP’s recommendation ordering respondent to return the amount of P2,200,000.00 to complainant. In disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. Our only concern isthe determination of respondent’s administrative liability. Our findings have no material bearing on other judicial actions which the parties may choose to file against each other.

However, we note that in CF Sharp Crew management, Inc. v. Nicolas C. Torres, the Court had already disbarred Torres from the practice of law for having been found guilty of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

NEGLIGENCE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY Felipe Layos v. Atty. Marlito I. Villanueva A.C. No. 8085, December 01, 2014 Perlas-Bernabe, J.

FACTS: Felipe filed a complaint against Atty. Marlito Villanueva, his counsel of record. His constant failure during trial resulted in Felipe’s right to cross-examine a prosecution

witness being waived, and was only able to move for reconsideration after four years, which was denied. When Marlito then filed a petition for certiorari to the Court of Appeals, which was dismissed on the merits, the CA chastised Marlito for his lack of candidness and fervor in championing the cause of his client, because he never bothered to know the outcome of the hearings where he was absent from; it took Marlito a long time before he moved to reconsider the RTC’s order; and he never questioned the appearances of other lawyers as lawyer for Felipe during his absences. Citing as basis, Felipe filed this administrative case.

In his comment, Marlito denied being remiss in his duties as counsel. During the hearing on April 4, 2002, where the case was supposed to be settled amicably, his car broke down. He asked his secretary to contact Felipe but the latter cannot be reached. He never heard from Felipe for a long time and assumed that the amicable settlement pushed through. He came to know it was not the case when he received a notice of hearing sometime in 2005. He went to the RTC and found out about the June 23, 2006 Order and that other lawyers were appearing for complainant. He relied on the word of the RTC staff that they will provide him a copy thru mail but they did not do so and thus, was only able to secure a copy of the order on April 4, 2006 and move for reconsideration on April 21, 2007. He also averred he had a hard time locating the complainant.

The IBP upon referral for investigation and report recommended that Marlito be suspended from the practice of law for six months for neglecting his client’s case and interests.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

ISSUE: W/N the respondent should be held administratively liable for the acts complained of.

HELD: YES. Under Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the CPR, it is the lawyer’s duty to serve his client’s interest with utmost zeal, candor and diligence. As such, he must keep abreast of all the developments in his client’s case and should inform the latter of the same, as it is crucial in maintaining the latter’s confidence.

As an officer of the court, it is the duty of an attorney to inform his client of whatever important information he may have acquired affecting his client’s case. He should notify his client of any adverse decision to enable his client to decide whether to seek an appellate review thereof. Keeping the client informed of the developments of the case will minimize misunderstanding and loss of trust and confidence in the attorney. The lawyer should not leave the client in the dark on how the lawyer is defending the client’s interests. In this connection, the lawyer must constantly keep in mind that his actions, omissions, or nonfeasance would be binding upon his client. As such, the lawyer is expected to be acquainted with the rudiments of law and legal procedure, and a client who deals with him has the right to expect not just a good amount of professional learning and competence but also a whole- hearted fealty to the client’s cause.

In the case at bar, records reveal that since missing the April 4, 2002 hearing due to car trouble, respondent no longer kept track of complainant’s criminal case and merely assumed that the same was already amicably settled and terminated. Thereafter, when respondent discovered the RTC’s issuance of the June 26, 2003 Order which is prejudicial to

complainant’s cause, respondent did not immediately seek any remedy to further the interests of his client. Instead, he passively relied on the representations of the court employees that they would send him a copy of the aforesaid Order. Worse, when he finally secured a copy on April 4, 2006, it still took him over a year, or until April 21, 2007, just to move the RTC to reconsider its June 26, 2003 Order. Naturally, the RTC and the CA denied the motion for being filed way beyond the reglementary period, to the detriment of complainant. Clearly, respondent failed to exercise such skill, care, and diligence as men of the legal profession commonly possess and exercise in such matters of professional employment.

It must be stressed that public interest requires that an attorney exert his best efforts in the prosecution or defense of a client’s cause. A lawyer who performs that duty with diligence and candor not only protects the interests of his client, he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession. Lawyers are indispensable part of the whole system of administering justice in this jurisdiction. At a time when strong and disturbing criticisms are being hurled at the legal profession, strict compliance with one’s oath of office and the canons of professional ethics is an imperative.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Marlito I. Villanueva is found administratively liable and was suspended for three (3) months.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Notarization of documents while out of the country

Atty. Aurelio Angeles, jr. vs Atty. Renato Bagay

A.C. 8103, December 3, 2014

Facts: Atty. Angeles, Provincial Legal Officer of Bataan, submitted a letter to Hon. Remigio Escalada, jr., the Executive Judge of the RTC of Bataan, against Atty. Bagay, alleging that the latter notarized 18 documents while outside the country, attending a Prayer and Life Workshop in Mexico. The documents include Deeds of Donation, Deeds of Sale, and an Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate. Attached to the letter were the affidavits of the persons who had the documents notarized.

The Executive Judge thereafter referred the matter to the Bataan Chapter of the IBP who later on endorsed the matter to the Commission on Bat Discipline(CBD). The CBD Director opted to endorse the matter to the Office of Bar Confidant.

Atty. Bagay admitted that there were documents that were notarized while he was out of the country, signed by his office secretary who was unaware of the import of the act. In a Resolution, the IBP Board adopted the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, holding Atty. Bagay guilty of negligence in the performance of his duty as a notary public and thereby revoking his Notarial Commission and disqualifying him from appointment as a notary public within the next two years. Atty. Bagay filed a motion for reconsideration, asking for leniency, as the act was without wrongful intention. The motion was, however, denied.

Issue: Whether or not the notarization of documents by the secretary of the respondent while he was out of the country constituted negligence.

Held: Yes. The notarization of documents by the office secretary while the Notary Public is out of the country constitutes negligence.

Section 9 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice defines a notary public as, any person commissioned to perform official acts under these Rules. Thus the secretary is not commissioned to perform these notarial acts. The notary public cannot claim that he did not authorized the act of the secretary, he is bound by the acts of the secretary he employed because he negligently left his notarial seal and register within the reach of his secretary.

Furthermore, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility requires lawyers not to directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law. The negligent acts of the respondent allowed the unauthorized practice of law by his secretary in signing on his behalf as a notary public.

Also, under Canon 7, every lawyer is directed to uphold at all times the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The persons who sought to have their documents notarized found that the same documents are without effect thereby eroding their faith in the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Suspension ; Disbarment; Violations of the CPR; Rule on Conflicting interests; Attorney-Client relationship; Factors for the existence of rule on lawyer-client privilege

Jimenez vs. Francisco 744 SCRA 215 , December 10, 2014 MENDOZA, J.:

FACTS: This refers to the complaint received by Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) on September 6, 2007, filed by Caroline Castañeda Jimenez (complainant) against Atty. Francisco for multiple violations of the CPR. Complainant was shocked upon reading the allegations in the complaint for estafa filed by Jimenez against her. She felt even more betrayed when she read the affidavit of Atty. Francisco, on whom she relied as her personal lawyer and Clarion’s corporate counsel and secretary of Clarion. This prompted her to file a disciplinary case against Atty. Francisco for representing conflicting interests. According to her, she usually conferred with Atty. Francisco regarding the legal implications of Clarion’s transactions. More significantly, the principal documents relative to the sale and transfer of Clarion’s property were all prepared and drafted by Atty. Francisco or the members of his law office. Atty. Francisco was the one who actively participated in the transactions involving the sale of the Forbes property. Without admitting the truth of the allegations in his affidavit, complainant argued that its execution clearly betrayed the trust and confidence she reposed on him as a lawyer. For this reason, complainant prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Francisco.

The Findings of the Investigating Commissioner:

The Investigating Commissioner, Atty. Jose I. dela Rama, Jr. (Investigating Commissioner),found Atty. Francisco guilty of violations of the CPR and recommended that he be

suspended for one (1) year from the practice of law. The Investigating Commissioner also pointed out Atty. Francisco’s clear admission that the transfer of shares within Clarion were "without any consideration," ran counter to the deeds of assignment that he again admittedly executed as corporate counsel. Worse, Atty. Francisco admitted to have simulated the loan and undervalued the consideration of the effected sale of the Forbes property, which displayed his unlawful, dishonest, immoral, and deceitful conduct in violation of Canon 1 of the CPR. Further, when he executed the affidavit containing allegations against the interest of Clarion and complainant, the Investigating Commissioner held that Atty. Francisco violated the rule on privileged communication and engaged in an act that constituted representation of conflicting interests in violation of Canons 15 and 21 of the CPR.

In its January 3, 2013 Resolution, the IBP-BOG adopted and approved, in toto, the findings and recommendation of the CBD against Atty. Francisco. Atty. Francisco appealed to the compassion of the IBP-BOG, reasoning out that the penalty of suspension of one (1) year is too severe considering that in his more than three decades of practice, he had never been involved in any act that would warrant the imposition of disciplinary action upon him. In its March 22, 2014 Resolution, the IBP-BOG denied the respondent’s motion for reconsideration. No petition for review was filed with the Court.

The Estafa case aforementioned: (Mark Jimenez vs Caroline Jimenez, et. al.)

The Antecedents Mario Crespo, otherwise known as Mark Jimenez (Jimenez), filed a complaint for estafa against complainant, her sister Rosemarie Flaminiano, Marcel Crespo, Geraldine Antonio, Brenda Heffron, Magdalena Cunanan, and Isabel Gonzalez. Jimenez alleged that he was the true and beneficial owner of the shares of stock in Clarion Realty and

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Development Corporation (Clarion), which was incorporated specifically for the purpose of purchasing a residential house located in Forbes Park, Makati City (Forbes property). Jimenez’s complaint for estafa was based on complainant’s alleged participation in the fraudulent means in selling the Forbes property which was acquired by Clarion with Jimenez’s money. Complainant was duty bound to remit all the proceeds of the sale to Jimenez as the true and beneficial owner. Complainant and her co-respondents, however, misappropriated and converted the funds for their personal use and benefit.

ISSUE/S:

1. WON Atty. Edgar Francisco should be suspended or

disbarred in view of the allegations against him.

2. WON there exist attorney-client relationship.

3. WON whether or not Atty. Francisco violated the rule on

conflict of interests.

HELD:

1. Yes. Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of

Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended on any of the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or other gross misconduct in office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (5) violation of the lawyer's oath; (6) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (7) willful appearance as an attorney for a party without authority. A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor, or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.

In the instant case, he violated Violations of Canons 1 and 10 of the CPR and the Lawyer’s Oath.

Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR provide:

CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. Rule 1.0 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

In the facts obtaining in this case, Atty. Francisco clearly violated the canons and his sworn duty. He is guilty of engaging in dishonest and deceitful conduct when he admitted to having allowed his corporate client, Clarion, to actively misrepresent to the SEC, the significant matters regarding its corporate purpose and subsequently, its corporate shareholdings. In the documents submitted to the SEC, such as the deeds of assignment and the GIS, Atty. Francisco, in his professional capacity, feigned the validity of these transfers of shares, making it appear that these were done for consideration when, in fact, the said transactions were fictitious, albeit upon the alleged orders of Jimenez. As corporate secretary of Clarion, it was his duty and obligation to register valid transfers of stocks. Nonetheless, he chose to advance the interests of his clientele with patent disregard of his duties as a lawyer. Worse, Atty. Francisco admitted to have simulated the loan entered into by Clarion and to have undervalued the consideration of the effected sale of the Forbes property. He permitted this fraudulent ruse to cheat the government of taxes. Unquestionably, therefore, Atty. Francisco participated in a series of grave legal infractions and was content to have granted the requests of the persons involved.

Canon 10 of the CPR provides that, “[a] lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.” Corollary thereto, Rule 10.0 of the CPR provides that “a lawyer shall do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court, nor shall he mislead

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

or allow the Court to be misled by an artifice.” Lawyers are officers of the court, called upon to assist in the administration of justice. They act as vanguards of our legal system, protecting and upholding truth and the rule of law. They are expected to act with honesty in all their dealings, especially with the court. From the foregoing, Atty. Francisco clearly violated his duties as a lawyer embodied in the CPR, namely, to avoid dishonest and deceitful conduct, (Rule 1.01, Canon 1) and to act with candor, fairness and good faith (Rule 10.01, Canon 10). Also, Atty. Franciso desecrated his solemn oath not to do any falsehood nor consent to the doing of the same.

2. None. The claim of being Atty. Francisco’s client remains

unsubstantiated. There was no detailed explanation as to how she supposedly engaged the services of Atty. Francisco as her personal counsel and as to what and how she communicated with the latter anent the dealings she had entered into. Moreover, the complainant failed to attend hearings at the IBP.

3. No. Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the CPR provides that, "[a]

lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts." TESTS that may be used to show conflicting interests:

1 st : Whether a lawyer is duty-bound to fight for an issue or claim in behalf of one client and, at the same time, to oppose that claim for the other client. 2 nd : Whether the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyer’s duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty. 3 rd : Whether the lawyer would be called upon in the new relation to use against a former client any confidential information acquired through their connection or previous employment.

From the foregoing, the rule on conflict of interests presupposes a lawyer-client relationship. The purpose of the rule is precisely to protect the fiduciary nature of the ties between an attorney and his client.

The factors to establish existence of the rule on lawyer-client privilege:

(1) There exists an attorney-client relationship, or a prospective attorney-client relationship, and it is by reason of this relationship that the client made the communication. (2) The client made the communication in confidence. (3) The legal advice must be sought from the attorney in his professional capacity.

The Court holds that the evidence on record fails to demonstrate the claims of complainant. As discussed, the complainant failed to establish the professional relationship between her and Atty. Francisco. The records are further bereft of any indication that the "advice" regarding the sale of the Forbes property was given to Atty. Francisco in confidence. Neither was there a demonstration of what she had communicated to Atty. Francisco nor a recital of circumstances under which the confidential communication was relayed. All that complaint alleged in her complainant was that "she sought legal advice from respondent in various occasions."

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Atty. Edgar B. Francisco GUILTY of violation of Canons 1 and 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for which he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Duty to account for all funds and property collected or received for or from the client.

SPOUSES NICASIO DONELITA SAN PEDRO, Complainants, vs. ATTY. ISAGANI A. MENDOZA, Respondent.

A.C. No. 5440

December 10, 2014

LEONEN, J.:

FACTS: On November 21, 1996, complainants engaged the services of respondent to facilitate the transfer of title to property, in the name of Isabel Azcarraga Marcaida, to complainants. Complainants then gave respondent a check for P68,250.00 for the payment of transfer taxes. They also gave respondent a check for P13,800.00 for respondent’s professional fee. Respondent failed to produce the title despite complainants’ repeated follow-ups. Consequently, complainants demanded the refund of the amount intended for the payment of transfer taxes. Due to respondent’s failure to return the same, complainants instituted this complaint for disbarment against the former.

In his answer, respondent claimed that complainants were the ones who caused the three-year delay in the transfer of title to complainants’ names. Complainants were not able to furnish respondent several important documents: (a) original copy of the deed of extrajudicial petition; (b) affidavit of publication with the clippings of the published item in a newspaper of general circulation; and (c) a barangay certificate from the barangay where the property is located as required by the Bureau of

Internal Revenue. Further, respondent alleged that the retention of the money is justified owing to his receivables from complainants for the services he rendered in various cases in which the complaints were involved.

ISSUE: Whether respondent is guilty of violating Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for failing to hold in trust the money of his clients?

HELD: YES. Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:

CANON 16 - A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.

Rule 16.02 A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and those of others kept by him.

A lawyer’s duty under Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is clear:

The fiduciary nature of the relationship between counsel and client imposes on a lawyer the duty to account for the money or property collected or received for or from the client[,] [thus] . [w]hen a lawyer collects or receives money from his client for a particular purpose (such as for filing fees, registration fees, transportation and office expenses), he should promptly account to the client how the money was spent. If he does not use the money for its intended purpose, he must immediately

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

return it to the client. His failure either to render an accounting or to return the money (if the intended purpose of the money does not materialize) constitutes a blatant disregard of Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

[The lawyer’s] failure to return the client’s money upon demand gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to the prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in him by the client.

Respondent admitted that there were delays in the transfer of title of property to complainants’ name.1âwphi1 He continuously assured complainants that he would still fulfill his duty. However, after three (3) years and several demands from complainants, respondent failed to accomplish the task given to him and even refused to return the money. Complainants’ alleged failure to provide the necessary documents to effect the transfer does not justify his violation of his duty under the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Hence, respondent is guilty for violation of Canon 16 and was consequently suspended in the practice of law for a period of three months.

Negligence and incompetence by a counsel in dealing with a client and undermining the legal processes, which she swore to uphold and defend.

MARILEN G. SOLIMAN VS. ATTY. DITAS LERIOS-AMBOY EN BANC, A.C. No. 10568 [Formerly CBD Case No. 10- 2753], January 13, 2015 J. Reyes

FACTS: Marilen (Soliman) engaged the services of Atty. Ditas (Lerios-Amboy) in connection with a partition case. They both agreed that Ditas’ retainer fee will be P50,000.00, one half of which was paid to Ditas upon engagement. Later, Ditas told her not to proceed anymore with the partition since the other co-owners were amenable to a partition, hence Ditas facilitated the issuance of the titles to the co-owners.

On November, 2008, Marilen gave Ditas P16,700.00 as payment for the transfer tax of the property. Ditas later told her that there were some delays in the issuance of the titles and she knows someone from the Registry of Deeds who can facilitate the issuance of the titles, in return for a payment of P80,000.00. After some haggling, Ditas told Marilen that contact at the RD agreed to accept P50,000.00, which Marilen deposited in Ditas’ account. She also deposited P8,900.00 as payment for the 2009 realty tax. Ditas informed her that the certificates of title were just awaiting signatures of the authorised officer.

After some delay, Ditas’ secretary again asked for P10,000.00, allegedly demanded by her contact at the RD. Marilen refused. Marilen kept asking about the updates to the titling, but Ditas did not respond to her queries. She then went to the office of

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Atty. Marasigan, the Deputy RD of Manila, to ask him if he received the P50,000.00, but the latter denied receiving any money from Ditas, and told her the reason the issuance of the certificates of title were delayed was the failure of Ditas to submit certain documents. Marilen thus demanded the return of the documents she entrusted to Ditas, as well as the P50,000.00 but the latter refused. In her defense, Ditas admitted the existence of the retainer agreement, but denied receiving any amount from the agreement, as the partition never materialized. She denied failing to submit certain documents to the RD causing the delay in the issuance of the titles; as well as denied receipt of the P50,000.00.The Investigating Commissioner recommended that Ditas be suspended from the practice of law for six months, for failing to observe due diligence in her dealings with Marilen and failing to update her on the status of the titling. The IBP Board modified the penalty recommended to two years suspension.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Amboy was negligient to her client and had violated the legal processes.

HELD: Yes. The circumstances of this case clearly show that Atty. Amboy, after receiving P25,000.00 as payment for her professional services, failed to submit material documents relative to the issuance of separate certificates of title to the individual owners of the property. It was her negligence which caused the delay in the issuance of the certificates of title.

To make matters worse, Atty. Amboy abetted the commission

of an illegal act when she asked from Soliman the amount of

P50,000.00 to be paid to her “contact” inside the office of the RD in order to facilitate the release of the said certificates of title. Further, notwithstanding the payment of P50,000.00, Atty. Amboy still failed to obtain issuance of the said certificates of title. Instead of procuring the release of the certificates of title as she promised, Atty. Amboy asked for an additional P10,000.00 from Soliman.

Clearly, this is not a simple case of negligence and incompetence by a counsel in dealing with a client. Atty. Amboy’s acts undermined the legal processes, which she swore to uphold and defend. In swearing to the oath, Atty. Amboy bound herself to respect the law and legal processes.

The Code of Professional Responsibility clearly states that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and that he

should be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.

A lawyer is mandated to serve his client with competence and

diligence; to never neglect a legal matter entrusted to him; and

to keep his client informed of the status of his case and

respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information.

The Court further finds improper the refusal of Atty. Amboy to return the amount of P50,000.00 which she paid in order to facilitate the release of the certificates of title. To reiterate, upon inquiry, Atty. Marasigan, the Deputy RD of Manila, denied having received any amount from Atty. Amboy. In not returning the money to Soliman after a demand therefor was made following her failure to procure the issuance of the certificates of title, Atty. Amboy violated Canon 16 of the Code

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 16.03 thereof, which requires that a lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client upon demand. It is settled that the unjustified withholding of money belonging to a client warrants the imposition of disciplinary action

WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, Atty. Ditas Lerios-Amboy is found GUILTY of violating Rule 16.03, Canons 17 and 18, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years.

GROSS MISCONDUCT OF COUNSEL

Fernando W. Chu, Complainant, vs. Atty. Jose C. Guico, Jr., Respondent A.C. NO. 10573, January 13, 2015 Per Curiam

FACTS: Chu retained Atty. Guico as counsel to handle the labor disputes involving his company, CVC San Lorenzo Ruiz Corporation (CVC). Atty, Guico’s legal services included handling a complaint for illegal dismal brought against CVC. In the Labor Arbiter level, CVC lost the labor dispute. Atty. Guico seasonably filed an appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Meanwhile, during a Christmas Party in Atty. Guico’s residence, Chu was asked by the former to prepare a substantial amount of money to be given to the NLRC Commissioner handling the appeal to insure them a

favorable decision. Chu accordingly complied by furnishing Atty. Guico the amount of P300,000 pesos, said amount was given through the latter’s assistant Reynaldo (Nardo) Manahan. Subsequently, in a meeting with Atty. Guico, Chu was handed a copy of an alleged draft decision of the NLRC in favor of CVC. The draft decision was printed on the dorsal portion of used paper apparently emanating from the office of Atty. Guico. On that occasion, the latter told Chu to raise another P300,000.00 to encourage the NLRC Commissioner to issue the decision. But Chu could only produce P280,000.00, which he brought to Atty. Guico’s office.

However, it was Nardo who received the amount without issuing any receipt. Chu followed up on the status of the CVC case with Atty. Guico. However, Atty. Guico referred him to Nardo and after a series of inquiries as to whether the NLRC Commisioner had already received the money, Nardo ultimately replied in the negative and simply told Chu to wait. Nardo assured that the money was still with Atty. Guico who would return it should the NLRC Commissioner not accept it. Afterward, the NLRC promulgated a decision adverse to CVC. Chu confronted Atty. Guico, who in turn referred Chu to Nardo for the filing of a motion for reconsideration. After the denial of the motion for reconsideration, Atty. Guico caused the preparation and filing of an appeal in the Court of Appeals. Finally, Chu terminated Atty. Guico as legal counsel.

Atty. Guico’s answer and contention: The administrative complaint filed against him is replete with lies and inconsistencies, and insisted that the charge was only meant for harassment. He denied demanding and receiving money from Chu, a denial that Nardo corroborated with his own

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

affidavit. He further denied handing to Chu a draft decision printed on used paper emanating from his office, surmising that the used paper must have been among those freely lying around in his office that had been pilfered by Chu’s witnesses in the criminal complaint he had handled for Chu.

ISSUE: Did Atty. Guico violate the Lawyer’s Oath and Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon I of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) for demanding and receiving P580,000.00 from Chu to guarantee a favorable decision from the NLRC?

HELD: YES. ATTY. GUICO VIOLATED THE LAWYER’S OATH AND CANON 1, RULES 1.01 AND 1.02 OF THE CPR. ACCORDINGLY, HE IS GUILTY OF GROSS MISCOUNDUCT.

The sworn obligation to respect the law and the legal processes under the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility is a continuing condition for every lawyer to retain membership in the Legal Profession. To discharge the obligation, every lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client that would involve defiance of the very laws that he was bound to uphold and obey, for he or she was always bound as an attorney to be law abiding, and thus to uphold the integrity and dignity of the Legal Profession.Verily, he or she must act and comport himself or herself in such a manner that would promote public confidence in the integrity of the Legal Profession. Any lawyer found to violate this obligation forfeits his or her privilege to continue such membership in the legal profession.

Guico’s attempt to downplay the sourcing of used paper from his office was futile because he did not expressly belie the forthright statement of Chu. All that Atty. Guico stated by way of deflecting the imputation was that the used paper containing the draft decision could have been easily taken from his office by Chu’s witnesses in a criminal case that he had handled for Chu, pointing out that everything in his office, except the filing cabinets and his desk, was “open to the public xxx and just anybody has access to everything found therein.” In our view, therefore, Atty. Guico made the implied admission because he was fully aware that the used paper had unquestionably come from his office. Atty. Guico willingly and wittingly violated the law in appearing to counsel Chu to raise the large sums of money in order to obtain a favorable decision in the labor case. He thus violated the law against bribery and corruption.

He compounded his violation by actually using said illegality as his means of obtaining a huge sum from the client that he soon appropriated for his own personal interest. His acts constituted gross dishonesty and deceit, and were a flagrant breach of his ethical commitments under the Lawyer’s Oath not to delay any man for money or malice; and under Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility that forbade him from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. His deviant conduct eroded the faith of the people in him as an individual lawyer as well as in the Legal Profession as a whole. In doing so, he ceased to be a servant of the law.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Deceit, Gross Misconduct and Violation of Oath under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court

DR. DOMICIANO F. VILLAHERMOSA, SR. v. ATTY. ISIDRO L. CARACOL A.C. No. 7325, January 21, 2015 VILLARAMA, JR., J.

FACTS: OCT No. 433 was a homestead patent granted to Micael Babela who had two sons, Fernando and Efren. When the agrarian reform law was enacted, emancipation patents and titles were issued to Hermogena and Danilo Nipotnipot, beneficiaries of the program, who in turn sold the parcels of land to complainant’s spouse, Raymunda Villahermosa. The Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a decision ordering the cancellation of the emancipation patents and TCTs derived from OCT No. 433 stating that it was not covered by the agrarian reform law.

This decision was appealed to and affirmed by the DARAB Central Board and the Court of Appeals. Atty. Caracol, as “Additionall Counsel for the Plaintiffs-Movant,” filed a motion for execution with the DARAB, Malaybalay, Bukidnon praying for the full implementation of the decision. Atty. Caracol filed a Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and Demolition which he signed as “Counsel for the Plaintiff Efren Babela.

Villahermosa filed this complaint alleging that Atty. Caracol had no authority to file the motions since he obtained no authority from the plaintiffs and the counsel of record. Villahermosa posited that Efren could not have authorized

Atty. Caracol to file the second motion because Efren had already been dead for more than a year. He claimed that Atty. Caracol’s real client was a certain Ernesto I. Aguirre, who had allegedly bought the same parcel of land. Atty. Caracol insists that Efren and Ernesto authorized him to appear as “additional counsel”. He said that he had consulted Atty. Aquino who advised him to go ahead with the filing. Moreover, he stated that he was not aware that there was a waiver of rights executed in Ernesto Aguirre’s favor. In its Report and Recommendation, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP CBD) found that Atty. Caracol committed deceitful acts and misconduct.

ISSUE: Is Atty. Caracol guilty of deceit, gross misconduct and violation of oath under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court?

RULING: YES. The Rules of Court under Rule 138, Section 21 provides for a presumption of a lawyer’s appearance on behalf of his client, hence:

SEC. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him to appear in court for his client, but the presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

or prove the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney willfully appearing in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions. (Emphases supplied)

Lawyers must be mindful that an attorney has no power to act as counsel for a person without being retained nor may he appear in court without being employed unless by leave of court. If an attorney appears on a client’s behalf without a retainer or the requisite authority neither the litigant whom he purports to represent nor the adverse party may be bound or affected by his appearance unless the purported client ratifies or is estopped to deny his assumed authority. If a lawyer corruptly or willfully appears as an attorney for a party to a case without authority, he may be disciplined or punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transaction.

Atty. Caracol knew that Efren had already passed away at the time he filed the Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and Demolition. As an honest, prudent and conscientious lawyer, he should have informed the Court of his client’s passing and presented authority that he was retained by the client’s successors-in-interest and thus the parties may have been substituted.

Atty. Caracol was found guilty of deceit, gross misconduct and violation of oath under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of

Court. Consequently, he was suspended from the practice of law for one year.

JUDGE AND LAWYER COLLUDED IN ACQUIRING COMPLAINANT’S PROPERTY

Tejano vs. Baterina AC 8235, January 27, 2015 Carpio, J.

FACTS: Joselito Tejano charged Judge Dominador Arguelada and his lawyer, Benjamin Baterina for allegedly acting in conspiracy with one another to take possession of his family’s property. According to him, he filed a case for recovery of possession and damages in Civil Case No. 4046-V against the Province of Ilocos Sur when the latter built an access road traversing their property without instituting an expropriation proceeding. The case was raffled to Branch 21 of the Vigan City RTC in October 1988. Prior to his appointment to the court, Judge Arguelada was the prosecutor in Branch 21 and represented the province of Ilocos Sur. In his affidavit, Tejano alleged that the judge and Atty. Baterina colluded with each other in the former’s bid to take over his family’s property, as shown by the fact that the judge was collecting rentals from the squatters in the property.

With respect to Atty. Baterina, Tejano alleged that the latter miserably failed advance his cause. Specifically, Tejano alleged that Atty. Baterina 1) failed to object when the judge waived their right to present evidence after several

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

postponements of the hearing, despite the fact that his mother was ill at the hospital; 2) manifested in open court that he would file a motion for reconsideration of the order, but did not file the same; 3) manifested in open court that he would not be presenting any more witnesses without consulting them; and 4) failed to file his formal offer of exhibits despite order from the court.

Since the OCA had no jurisdiction to hear the case against Baterina, the latter referred the case to the Court, which required Baterina to file his Comment. In his Compliance after the court required him to show cause why he should not be held liable for failing to file his comment, Baterina explained that he is recuperating from a kidney ailment; he explained that the reason he could not attend the case was that in 2002, he was suspended from the practice of law for two years, which fact he made known to Tejano mother and sister. Even so, the trial court did not appoint a lawyer for the plaintiff, and proceeded to hear the case without plaintiff’s lawyer. The culprit in Tejano predicament was the displayed bias and undue conflict of interest of Judge Arguelada.

Issue: Whether or not Atty. Baterina is guilty of gross negligence

Held: Yes. The Code of Professional Responsibility governing the conduct of lawyers, states:

CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

x x x x

RULE 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

RULE 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information.

Lawyers have a “fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients,” and must act “in accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.”⁠

When a lawyer agrees to take up a client’s cause, he makes a commitment to exercise due diligence in protecting the latter’s rights. Once a lawyer’s services are engaged, “he is duty bound to serve his client with competence, and to attend to his client’s cause with diligence, care and devotion regardless of whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him.”⁠ A lawyer’s acceptance to take up a case “impliedly stipulates [that he will] carry it to its termination, that is, until the case becomes final and executory.”⁠

Atty. Baterina’s duty to his clients did not automatically cease with his suspension. At the very least, such suspension gave him a concomitant responsibility to inform his clients that he would be unable to attend to their case and advise them to retain another counsel.

A lawyer even one suspended from practicing the profession – owes it to his client to not “sit idly by and leave the rights of

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

his client in a state of uncertainty.”⁠ The client “should never be left groping in the dark” and instead must be “adequately and fully informed about the developments in his case.”⁠

Atty. Baterina practically abandoned this duty when he allowed the proceedings to run its course without any effort to safeguard his clients’ welfare in the meantime. His failure to file the required pleadings on his clients’ behalf constitutes gross negligence in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibilityand renders him subject to disciplinary action.⁠ The penalties for a lawyer’s failure to file the required brief or pleading range from warning, reprimand, fine, suspension, or in grave cases, disbarment

Further, Atty. Baterina’s reckless disregard for orders and directives of the courts is unbecoming of a member of the Bar. His conduct has shown that he has little respect for rules, court processes, and even for the Court’s disciplinary authority. Not only did he fail to follow the trial court’s orders in his clients’ case, he even disregarded court orders in his own disciplinary proceedings.

Considering Atty. Baterina’s medical condition at that time, a simple explanation to the Court would have sufficed. Instead, however, he simply let the orders go unheeded, neglecting his duty to the Court.

Lawyers, as this Court has previously emphasized, “are particularly called upon to obey court orders and processes and are expected to stand foremost in complying with court directives being themselves officers of the court.”⁠ As such, Atty. Baterina should “know that a resolution of this Court is

not a mere request but an order which should be complied with promptly and completely.”

ABUSE OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE

Sps. Henry A. Concepcion and Blesilda S. Concepcion v. Atty. Elmer A. Dela Rosa A.C. No. 10681, February 03, 2015 PERLAS-BERNABE, J.

Facts: Respondent was tasked with handling complainants’ various cases and legal matters, which included the opening of a pawnshop business. The said business failed to materialize, and respondent, knowing that complainants had unused money from their failed business venture, decided to borrow from them the amount of P2,500,000.00. Complainants agreed and lent Dela Rosa the money, thru three (3) EastWest Bank checks issued in Dela Rosa’s name in three aggregate amounts of: P750,000,00; P850,000.00; and 900,000.00

After receiving the checks, respondent signed a piece of paper containing photocopies of the checks and an acknowledgement of his receipt thereof, and he personally encashed the same.

On the day of payment, despite repeated demands respondent failed to pay, and only made repeated promises to pay. Later on, complainants, with their new counsel, sent another demand letter to respondent for payment to which the latter denied having any debt and alleged that it was one Jean Charles Nault (Nault), one of his other clients, who was the

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

real debtor, and that he was only tasked with collecting the debt for complainants.

After failing to reach a settlement, complainants then brought the case to the IBP-Misamis Oriental Chapter charging respondent with violation of Rule 16.04 of the CPR.

In his Comment, respondent denied borrowing P2,500,000.00 from complainants, insisting that Nault was the real debtor. In their letter-reply, complainants maintained that they extended the loan to respondent alone, as evidenced by the checks issued in the latter’s name. They categorically denied knowing Nault and pointed out that it defies common sense for them to extend an unsecured loan in the amount of P2,500,000.00 to a person they do not even know.

The IBP Investigating Commissioner, Jose I. de La Rama, Jr. (Investigating Commissioner), issued his Report concluding that respondent’s actions degraded the integrity of the legal profession and clearly violated Rule 16.04 and Canons 7 and 16 of the CPR. Respondent’s failure to appear during the mandatory conferences further showed his disrespect to the IBP-CBD.

Issue: The central issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for violating the CPR.

Ruling: Yes. Atty. Dela Rosa is liable for violating the CPR.

Under Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, a lawyer is prohibited from borrowing money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected:

CANON 16 A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his clients that may come into his possession.

Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.”

The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is one imbued with trust and confidence. And as true as any natural tendency goes, this “trust and confidence” is prone to abuse. The rule against borrowing of money by a lawyer from his client is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking advantage of his influence over his client. The rule presumes that the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation.

The court cited the case of Frias v. Lozadas, wherein they held that: “A lawyer’s act of asking a client for a loan, as what respondent did, is very unethical. It comes within those acts considered as abuse of client’s confidence.”

As above-discussed, respondent borrowed money from complainants who were his clients and whose interests, by the lack of any security on the loan, were not fully protected. Owing to their trust and confidence in respondent, complainants relied solely on the former’s word that he will return the money plus interest within five (5) days. However, respondent abused the same and reneged on his obligation, giving his previous clients the runaround up to this day.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Accordingly, there is no quibble that respondent violated Rule 16.04 of the CPR.

In the same vein, the Court finds that respondent also violated Canon 7 of the CPR which reads:

CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.

In unduly borrowing money from the complainants and by blatantly refusing to pay the same, respondent abused the trust and confidence reposed in him by his clients, and, in so doing, failed to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. Thus, he should be equally held administratively liable on this score.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Elmer A. dela Rosa is found guilty of violating Canon 7 and Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years effective upon finality of this Decision

Lost appeal due to negligence of lawyer Ramirez vs Magallo A.C.10537 ; FEBRUARY 3, 2015 PONENTE: Leonen, J.;

FACTS: Reynaldo Ramirez filed a complaint before Commision on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines alleging that he engaged Atty. Margallo’s services as legal counsel in a civil case for Quieting of Title. According to Ramirez he was contacted by Atty. Margallo as per referral of a friend of Ramirez’s sister to offer his legal services on the condition that she be given 30% of the land subject of the controversy instead of attorney’s fees and P1000 per court appearance.

The RTC then rendered its decision and a timely appeal was perfected. The Court of Appeals then directed Ramirez to file his Appelant’s Brief. On several occasions, Ramirez followed up on the status of the brief, but he was told that there was still no word from the Court of Appeals.

Atty. Margallo informed Ramirez that his Appeal had been denied due to Ramirez’s failure to establish his filiation with his alleged father and that they could no longer appeal since the decision had been promulgated and the reglementary period for filing an Appeal had already lapsed. Ramirez went to the Court of Appeals and discovered that the Appellant’s Brief was filed late with a Motion for Reconsideration and Apologies for filing beyond the reglementary period.

The Board of Governors found that respondent Atty. Margallo had violated Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Consequently, the Board of Governors recommended that Atty. Margallo be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

PETITIONER’S CONTENTION:

Atty. Margallo had violated Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

RESPONDENT’S CONTENTION:

By way of defense, Atty. Margallo argued that she had agreed to take on the case for free, save for travel expense of P1,000.00 per hearing and candidly informed Ramirez and his mother that they only had a 50% chance of winning the case. Atty. Margallo asserted that she would not have taken on the Appeal except that the mother of Ramirez had begged her to do so. She claimed that when she instructed Ramirez to see her for document signing, he ignored her. When he finally showed up, he merely told her that he had been busy. Her failure to immediately inform Ramirez of the unfavorable Decision of the CA was due to losing her client’s number because her 8-year-old daughter played with her phone and accidentally erased all her contacts.

ISSUE: Whether the neglince of the counsel warrants his 2 year suspension from practice of law.

RULING:

Yes, respondent was unjustifiably remiss in her duties as legal counsel to Ramirez. The relationship between a lawyer and a client is “imbued with utmost trust and confidence. Lawyers are expected to exercise the necessary diligence and competence in managing cases entrusted to them. They commit not only to review cases or give legal advice, but also to represent their clients to the best of their ability without need

to be reminded by either the client or the court. The expectation to maintain a high degree of legal proficiency and attention remains the same whether the represented party is a high-paying client or an indigent litigant.

Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility clearly provide:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

CANON 17 - A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE

CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE

OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

MINDFUL

CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal

matter entrusted to him, and his

in

connection there with shall render him liable.

negligence

Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client

informed of the status of his case and shall

respond request for information.

within a reasonable time to client’s

The lack of communication and coordination between respondent Atty. Margallo and her cost complainant Ramirez his entire case and left him with no appellate remedies. His legal cause was orphaned not because a court of law ruled on the merits of his case, but because a person privileged to act as counsel failed to discharge her duties with the requisite diligence. There was no proof that she exerted efforts to

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

communicate with her client.

possible means to protect complainant Ramirez’s interest, which is contrary to what she had sworn to do as a member of

the legal profession.

She failed to exhaust all

Between the lawyer and the client, it is the lawyer that has the better knowledge of facts, events, and remedies. While it is true that the client chooses which lawyer to engage, he or she usually does so on the basis of reputation. It is only upon actual engagement that the client discovers the level of diligence, competence, and accountability of the counsel that he or she chooses. In some cases, such as this one, the discovery comes too late. Between the lawyer and the client, therefore, it is the lawyer that should bear the full costs of indifference or negligence.

GROSS MISCONDUCT IN HANDLING AN ELECTION PROTEST CASE

Sps. Willie and Amelia Umaguing vs. Atty. Wallen De Vera A.C. No. 10451, February 04, 2015 Perlas-Bernabe, J.

FACTS: MarieCris Umaguing, daughter of Sps. Umaguing, ran for the position of SK Chairman in the SK elections for the year 2007 but lost to her rival Jose Gabriel Bungag by one vote. Because of this, complainants lodged an election protest and enlisted the services of respondent Atty. De Vera. On November 7, 2007, complainants were asked by Atty. De Vera to pay his acceptance fee of P30, 000.00, plus various miscellaneous expenses which also amounted to P30, 000.00.

According to the complainants, Atty. De Vera had more than enough time to prepare and file the case but the former moved at a glacial pace and only took action when the November 8, 2008 deadline was looming. Atty. De Vera then rushed the preparation of the necessary documents and attachments for the election protest. The MeTC found that the attached affidavits of the material witnesses were falsified and pointed out that while Atty. De Vera filed a pleading to rectify this error, it was a flimsy excuse since he has ample amount of time to file the case and submit the attachments without irregularities.

On December 12, 2007, for lack of trust and confidence in the integrity and competency of Atty. De Vera, as well as his breach of fiduciary relations, the complainants asked the former to withdraw as their counsel and to reimburse them the P60, 000.00 in excessive fees he collected from them, considering that he only appeared twice for the case. In view of the foregoing, complainants sought Atty. De Vera’s disbarment. In his Counter-Affidavit, Atty. De Vera vehemently denied all the accusations lodged against him by complainants. He averred that the merely prepared the essential documents for election protest based on the statements of his clients.

In a Report and Recommendation dated December 5, 2009, the IBP Commissioner found the administrative action to be impressed with merit, and thus recommended that Atty. De Vera be suspended from the practice of law for two months. Subsequently, the Board of Governors of the IBP resolved to adopt the findings of the IBP Commissioner, but on reconsideration, the same Board reduced the period of suspension from two months to one month.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

ISSUE: Is Atty. De Vera administratively liable?

RULING: YES, Atty. De Vera is guilty of violating the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by submitting a falsified document before a court.

Fundamental is the rule that in his dealings with his client and with the courts, every lawyer is expected to be honest, imbued with integrity, and trustworthy. The Lawyer’s Oath enjoins every lawyer not only to obey the laws of the land but also to refrain from doing any falsehood in or out of court or from consenting to the doing of any in court, and to conduct himself according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity to the courts, as well as to his clients. Every lawyer is a servant of the law, and has to observe and maintain the rule of law as well as be an exemplar worthy of emulation by others. It is by no means a coincidence, therefore, that the core value of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness are emphatically reiterated by the Code of Professional Responsibility. In this light, Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that “a lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.”

In the instant case, it is highly improbable for Atty. De Vera to have remained in the dark about the authenticity of the documents he himself submitted to the court when his

professional duty requires him to represent his client with zeal and within the bounds of the law. Likewise, he is prohibited from handling any legal matter without adequate preparation or allow his client to dictate the procedure in handling the case.

Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are designed to ensure that whoever is granted the privilege to practice law in this country should remain faithful to the Lawyer’s Oath. Only thereby can lawyers preserve their fitness to remain as members of the Law Profession. Any resort to falsehood or deception, including adopting artifices to cover up one’s misdeeds against clients and the rest of the trusting public, evinces an unworthiness to continue enjoying the privilege to practice law and highlights the unfitness to remain a member of the Law Profession. It deserves the guilty lawyer stern disciplinary sanctions.

Hence, Atty. De Vera is found guilty of violating the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and is accordingly suspended for six months from the practice of law.

Refusal to comply with the Court’s directives

Jimmy Anudon and Juanita Anudon vs Atty. Arturo B. Cefra A.C. No. 5482, February 10, 2015 Leonen, J.:

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

Facts: Jimmy and Juanita Anudon filed a complaint against Atty. Arturo B. Cefra for notarizing a falsified a Deed of Sale. The two complainants alleged that they did not sign the Deed of Absolute Sale, and they did not do so before Atty. Cefra. The NBI certified that the signatures appearing the notarized document is indeed forged contrary to Atty. Cefra’s acknowledgement over the document. The complainants also stated that it was physically impossible for their brothers, Johnny and Alfonso, and sister, Benita, to have signed the Deed of Sale because the former was in the US, and the latter was in Cavite when the document was allegedly signed.

In his defense, Atty. Cefra stated that Jimmy and Juanita were aware of the sale of the land. He narrated that on July 10, 1998, Juanita and Jimmy’s wife Helen went to his residence to consult him on how they could sell the land to Paran. Atty. Cefra claimed that he assisted in the preparation of the documents for the sale, including the Deed of Sale. The Deed of Sale was brought by the relatives of the vendee, Paran to the residence of the complainant to have the document signed, which was signed by Johnny’s son, Leojan. Atty. Cefra admitted knowing that Loejan was the one who affixed the signatures of Johnny, Alfonso, and Benita “with the full knowledge and permission of the three.” According to Atty. Cefra, he “notarized the questioned document in good faith, trusting the words and pronouncements of Leojan; with the only purpose of helping them out legally and financially.

Issue: Whether or not Atty. Cefra violated the Notarial Law and the Code of Professional Responsibility when he notarized the document

Held: Yes. Notarization is the act that ensures the public that the provisions in the document express the true agreement between the parties. Transgressing the rules on notarial practice sacrifices the integrity of notarized documents. It is

the notary public who assures that the parties appearing in the document are the same parties who executed it. This cannot be achieved if the parties are not physically present before the notary public acknowledging the document. Atty. Cefra claims that Jimmy and Juanita wanted to sell their land. Even if this is true, Jimmy and Juanita, as vendors, were not able to review the document given for notarization. Paran’s representatives, who merely informed Atty. Cefra that the vendors signed the document, brought the Deed of Absolute Sale to Atty. Cefra. Atty. Cefra should have exercised vigilance and not just relied on the representations of the vendee.

Atty. Cefra is also guilty of violating Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. This canon requires “a lawyer to uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.” He contumaciously delayed compliance with this court’s order to file a Comment. As early as September 19, 2001, this court already required Atty. Cefra to comment on the Complaint lodged against him. Atty. Cefra did not comply with this order until the National Bureau of Investigation arrested him. Atty. Cefra only filed his Comment on January 15, 2008, more than seven years after this court’s order. Atty. Cefra’s actions show utter disrespect for legal processes.

Hence, Atty. Cefra is guilty of notarizing the Deed of Absolute Sale in the absence of the affiants, as well as failure to comply with an order from this Court.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

LAWYER ENJOYS PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE IN DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS

Michael Ruby vs Atty. Espejo and Atty. Bayot A.C. No. 10558, February 23, 2015 REYES, J.:

Facts: Complainant and his mother engaged the services of herein respondents in connection with a case for cancellation and nullification of deeds of donation. As per the retainer agreement, the acceptance fee was P100,000: 70% to be paid upon signing and the balance, after the hearing on the issuance of a TRO. Also, the parties agreed on a P4,000 appearance fee for every hearing.

Complainant gave respondent Atty. Espejo P50,000 which will serve as filing fee. However, the actual filing fee paid for was only P7,561. She failed to account for the excess amount despite several demand letters therefor.

Thereafter, Atty Espejo allegedly asked that Atty Bayot be paid the acceptance fee balance, notwithstanding that the hearing for the issuance of the TRO has not yet taken place because the latter was in dire need of money. Complainant acceded but only to the payment of P8,000 and contended that the amount was not yet due. Also, Atty. Espejo asked for another P50,000 (which was later bargained to P20,000) as “representation fee” alleging that she needs to file a separate petition for the issuance of a TRO.

Meanwhile, the RTC denied the prayer for the issuance of the TRO, which the complainant learned of more than a week

later, when he visited the RTC. He was not notified of such fact by respondents.

On the date of the hearing of the motion to serve summons by publication, Atty. Bayot failed to appear in court even though complainant had duly paid his appearance fee for the said hearing. Instead, he just met the complainants at the lobby of the Quezon City Hall of Justice, telling them that he already talked to the clerk of court who assured him that the court would grant their motion. 10

The complainant alleged, that the respondents failed to update him as to the status of his complaint, and claimed that Atty. Bayot had suddenly denied that he was their counsel. On the other hand, Atty. Bayot asserted that it was Atty. Espejo alone who was the counsel of the complainant and that he was merely a collaborating counsel. His assistance was merely sought and that it was Atty. Espejo who signed and filed the complaint in the RTC. He further pointed out that he had no part in the retainer agreement and denied having any knowledge as to the payments made to Atty. Espejo. He admitted that he was the one who drafted the motion to serve summons through publication, but pointed out that it was Atty. Espejo who signed and filed it in the RTC. He also admitted that he was the one who was supposed to attend the hearing of the said motion, but claimed that he was only requested to do so by Atty. Espejo since the latter had another commitment. As to the appearance fee he received for the hearing, he denied having requested for such but the complainant allegedly insisted to pay.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

On the other hand, Atty. Espejo, in her Answer, 19 denied asking for P50,000.00 from the complainant as filing fees. She insisted that it was the complainant who voluntarily gave her the money to cover the filing fees. She further alleged that she was not able to account for the excess amount because her files were destroyed when her office was flooded due to a typhoon. She also denied having asked another P50,000.00 from the complainant as "representation fee," asserting that the said amount was for the payment of the injunction bond once the prayer for the issuance of a TRO is issued.

*Atty. Espejo passed away while the case was pending with the IBP Board of Governors

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not Atty. Bayot was complainant’s counsel.

2. Whether or not Atty Bayot violated the Code of Professional Responsibility

Bayot’s admissions, points to the conclusion that a lawyer- client relationship existed between him and the complainant.

Atty. Bayot was the one who prepared the complaint and the motion to serve summons which were filed in the RTC. He likewise appeared as counsel in court, and advised the complainants of the status of their case. More importantly, Atty. Bayot admitted that he received P8,000.00, which is part of the acceptance fee indicated in the retainer agreement.

The foregoing circumstances clearly established that a lawyer- client relationship existed between Atty. Bayot and the complainant. "Documentary formalism is not an essential element in the employment of an attorney; the contract may be express or implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any matter pertinent to his profession." 28 Further, acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney- client relationship. 29 Accordingly, as regards the case before the RTC, the complainant had two counsels Atty. Espejo and Atty. Bayot

HELD:

1. YES. The Court modified the findings of the Investigating Commissioner and the IBP Board of Governors.

It is undisputed that Atty. Espejo was the counsel of record in the case that was filed in the RTC. Equally undisputed is the fact that it was only Atty. Espejo who signed the retainer agreement. However, the evidence on record, including Atty.

2. NO. A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of the complainant and is obliged to keep the latter informed of the status of his case. He must exercise due diligence in protecting his client’s rights. He is likewise bound to hold in trust, and to duly account for the money of his client that may come to his possession. Failure to return gives rise to a presumption that he has misappropriated it in violation of the trust reposed on him. And the conversion of funds entrusted to him

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

constitutes gross violation of professional ethics and betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession.

Nevertheless, the administrative liability of a lawyer for any infractions of his duties attaches only to such circumstances, which he is personally accountable for. It would be plainly unjust if a lawyer would be held accountable for acts, which he did not commit. Atty. Bayot may not be held liable for Atty. Espejo’s failure to account for the money she received from complainants.

On the other hand, Atty. Bayot is legally entitled to the P8,000.00 he received from the complainant on as his share in the acceptance fee and to the payment of his appearance fees, only on the days when there is a scheduled hearing and he duly appeared for such.

As regards the complainant’s charge of gross neglect against Atty. Bayot, the Court finds the same unsubstantiated. The Court has consistently held that in suspension or disbarment proceedings against lawyers, the lawyer enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof rests upon the complainant to prove the allegations in his complaint. 33

The complainant merely alleged that the respondents had "made themselves scarce" and failed to update him on the status of the case before the RTC. However, other than his bare allegations, the complainant failed to present any evidence that would show that Atty. Bayot was indeed remiss in his duties to the complainant. In any case, the charge of neglect against Atty. Bayot was premature, if not unfair,

considering that, at that time, the case before the RTC was still in the early stages; the pre-trial and trial have not even started yet. That they lost their bid for the issuance of a TRO is not tantamount to neglect on the part of Atty. Bayot.

However, Atty. Bayot is not entirely without fault. He undertook to the duties of a counsel without formally entering his appearance as counsel of record. He was able to obtain remuneration for his legal services sans any direct responsibility as to the progress of the case. He is reminded to be more circumspect in his dealings with clients. WHEREFORE, Atty. Rudolph Dilla Bayot is hereby ADMONISHED to exercise more prudence and judiciousness in dealing with his clients. He is also ordered to return to the complainant the amount of the appearance fee he received for the hearing of the motion to serve summons by publication which he never attended.

Rule against conflict of interest. Anglo VS Valencia AC 10567, feb. 25, 2015 PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

FACTS: In his complaint-affidavit, complainant alleged that he availed the services of the law firm Valencia Ciocon Dabao Valencia De La Paz Dionela Pandan Rubica Law Office(law firm), of which Attys. Valencia, Ciocon, Dabao, Uy-Valencia, De La Paz, Dionela, Pandan, Jr., and Rubica were partners, for two (2) consolidated labor cases where he was impleaded as respondent. Atty. Dionela, a partner of the law firm, was

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

assigned to represent complainant. The labor cases were terminated on June 5, 2008 upon the agreement of both parties.

On September 18, 2009, a criminal case for qualified theft was filed against complainant and his wife by FEVE Farms Agricultural Corporation (FEVE Farms) acting through a certain Michael Villacorta. Villacorta, however, was represented by the law firm, the same law office which handled complainant’s labor cases. Complainant filed this disbarment case against respondents, alleging that they violated Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR

The IBP Commissioner found respondents to have violated the rule on conflict of interest with the exception of Atty. Dabao. In a Resolution, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the IBP Commissioner’s Report and Recommendation with modification. Instead of the penalty of reprimand, the IBP Board of Governors dismissed the case with warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely. Complainant filed a motion for reconsideration thereof, which the IBP Board of Governors granted.

RESPONDENT’S CONTENTION:

In their defense, respondents admitted that they indeed operated under the name Valencia Ciocon Dabao Valencia De La Paz Dionela Pandan Rubica Law Office, but explained that their association is not a formal partnership, but one that is subject to certain "arrangements." According to them, each lawyer contributes a fixed amount every month for the maintenance of the entire office; and expenses for cases, such

as transportation, copying, printing, mailing, and the like are shouldered by each lawyer separately, allowing each lawyer to fix and receive his own professional fees exclusively. 7 As such, the lawyers do not discuss their clientele with the other lawyers and associates, unless they agree that a case be handled collaboratively. Respondents claim that this has been the practice of the law firm since its inception. They averred that complainant’s labor cases were solely and exclusively handled by Atty. Dionela and not by the entire law firm. Moreover, respondents asserted that the qualified theft case filed by FEVE Farms was handled by Atty. Peñalosa, a new associate who had no knowledge of complainant’s labor cases, as he started working for the firm after the termination thereof. Meanwhile, Atty. Dionela confirmed that he indeed handled complainant’s labor cases but averred that it was terminated on June 13, 2008, and that complainant did not have any monthly retainer contract

ISSUE:

Whether or not respondents are guilty of representing conflicting interests in violation of the pertinent provisions of the CPR

HELD:

YES, Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR provide:

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

CANON 15 A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.

x x x x

RULE 15.03 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.

x x x x

CANON 21 A LAWYER SHALL PRESERVE THE CONFIDENCES AND SECRETS OF HIS CLIENT EVEN AFTER THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS TERMINATED.

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. The test is "whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. This rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his

duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.As such, a lawyer is prohibited from representing new clients whose interests oppose those of a former client in any manner, whether or not they are parties in the same action or on totally unrelated cases. The prohibition is founded on the principles of public policy and good taste.

In this case, the Court concurs with the IBP’s conclusions that respondents represented conflicting interests and must therefore be held liable. As the records bear out, respondents’ law firm was engaged and, thus, represented complainant in the labor cases instituted against him. However, after the termination thereof, the law firm agreed to represent a new client, FEVE Farms, in the filing of a criminal case for qualified theft against complainant, its former client, and his wife. As the Court observes, the law firm’s unethical acceptance of the criminal case arose from its failure to organize and implement a system by which it would have been able to keep track of all cases assigned to its handling lawyers to the end of, among others, ensuring that every engagement it accepts stands clear of any potential conflict of interest. As an organization of individual lawyers which, albeit engaged as a collective, assigns legal work to a corresponding handling lawyer, it behooves the law firm to value coordination in deference to the conflict of interest rule. This lack of coordination, as respondents’ law firm exhibited in this case, intolerably renders its clients’ secrets vulnerable to undue and even adverse exposure, eroding in the balance the lawyer-client relationship’s primordial ideal of unimpaired trust and confidence. Thus, for this shortcoming, herein respondents, as the charged members of the law firm, ought to be

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ

administratively sanctioned. Note that the Court finds no sufficient reason as to why Atty. Dionela should suffer the greater penalty of suspension. As the Court sees it, all respondents stand in equal fault for the law firm’s deficient organization for which Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR had been violated. As such, all of them are meted with the same penalty of reprimand, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar infraction would be dealt with more severely.

Piercing the veil of corporation fiction by a Labor Arbiter; Unless the acts were committed with fraud, dishonesty, corruption, or malice, a judge may not be held administratively liable for gross misconduct.

Andres vs Nambi A.C. No. 7158, March 09, 2015

Facts: This is a Complaint for Disbarment 1 filed against then Labor Arbiter Salimathar V. Nambi. A judgment in a labor case was decided against M.A. Mercado Construction. The complainants in the labor case alleged that the assets of M.A. Mercado Construction was transferred to M.A. Blocks Work, Inc. Due to the failure of serving the writ of execution against M.A. Mercado Construction, Labor Arbiter Nambi issued an Alias Writ of Execution the other company, M.A. Blocks Work, Inc.

By way of special appearance, M.A. Blocks Work, Inc., together with three of its stockholders who are the complainants in this administrative case, namely Yolanda A. Andres, Minette A. Mercado and Elito P. Andres, filed an Urgent Motion to Quash 8 the Amended Alias Writ of Execution,

contending that they are not bound by the judgment as they were not parties to the labor case. They filed a disbarment case against Atty. Nambi.

Issue: Whether respondent is guilty of gross ignorance of the law and of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Ruling: No. Nambi's ruling was not arrived at arbitrarily; on the contrary, he cited grounds based on his personal assessment of the facts at hand. As culled from the case record, there is substantial evidence that respondents Maximo A. Mercado and Aida A. Mercado, who are doing business under the name and style of M.A. Mercado Construction put up a corporation in the name of M.A. Block Works, Inc. where individual movants are one of the incorporators. It is apparent from the foregoing disquisition that respondent’s conclusion had some bases and was not plucked from thin air, so to speak. Clearly, respondent did not act whimsically or arbitrarily; his ruling could not in any manner be characterized as imbued with malice, fraud or bad faith.

There is no basis to hold respondent administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law.

3G AY 2015-2016 SAN BEDA COLLEGE MENDIOLA

PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS

ATTY. J.F. DE CHAVEZ