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CANON 18 Respondent Grossly Neglected

A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT The Cause of His Client


WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE
Respondent undertook to defend the criminal case against
complainants son. Such undertaking imposed upon him the
following duties:
RULE 138, SEC. 23. Authority of attorneys
to bind clients.
CANON 17 A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF
Attorneys have authority to bind their clients HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST
in any case by any agreement in relation AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.
thereto made in writing, and in taking
appeals, and in all matters of ordinary CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH
judicial procedure. But they cannot, without COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
special authority, compromise their client's
litigation, or receive anything in discharge of xxx xxx xxx
a client's claim but the full amount in cash.
Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter
entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith
shall render him liable.
34
A.C. No. 7815 July 23, 2009
xxx xxx xxx
DOLORES C. BELLEZA, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. ALAN S. MACASA, Respondent CANON 19 A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT
WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW.

Respondent Disrespected
Legal Processes A lawyer who accepts the cause of a client commits to
devote himself (particularly his time, knowledge, skills and
effort) to such cause. He must be ever mindful of the trust
Respondent was given more than enough opportunity to and confidence reposed in him, constantly striving to be
answer the charges against him. Yet, he showed indifference worthy thereof. Accordingly, he owes full devotion to the
to the orders of the CBD for him to answer and refute the interest of his client, warm zeal in the maintenance and
accusations of professional misconduct against him. In doing defense of his clients rights and the exertion of his utmost
so, he failed to observe Rule 12.03 of the Code of learning, skill and ability to ensure that nothing shall be
Professional Responsibility: taken or withheld from his client, save by the rules of law
legally applied.
Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of
time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period A lawyer who accepts professional employment from a client
lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation undertakes to serve his client with competence and
for his failure to do so. diligence. He must conscientiously perform his duty arising
from such relationship. He must bear in mind that by
Respondent also ignored the CBDs directive for him to file accepting a retainer, he impliedly makes the following
his position paper. His propensity to flout the orders of the representations: that he possesses the requisite degree of
CBD showed his lack of concern and disrespect for the learning, skill and ability other lawyers similarly situated
proceedings of the CBD. He disregarded the oath he took possess; that he will exert his best judgment in the
when he was accepted to the legal profession "to obey the prosecution or defense of the litigation entrusted to him;
laws and the legal orders of the duly constituted legal that he will exercise reasonable care and diligence in the use
authorities." He displayed insolence not only to the CBD but of his skill and in the application of his knowledge to his
also to this Court which is the source of the CBDs authority. clients cause; and that he will take all steps necessary to
adequately safeguard his clients interest.
Respondents unjustified disregard of the lawful orders of the
CBD was not only irresponsible but also constituted utter A lawyers negligence in the discharge of his obligations
disrespect for the judiciary and his fellow lawyers. His arising from the relationship of counsel and client may cause
conduct was unbecoming of a lawyer who is called upon to delay in the administration of justice and prejudice the rights
obey court orders and processes and is expected to stand of a litigant, particularly his client. Thus, from the
foremost in complying with court directives as an officer of perspective of the ethics of the legal profession, a lawyers
the court. Respondent should have known that the orders of lethargy in carrying out his duties to his client is both
the CBD (as the investigating arm of the Court in unprofessional and unethical.
administrative cases against lawyers) were not mere
requests but directives which should have been complied If his clients case is already pending in court, a lawyer must
with promptly and completely. actively represent his client by promptly filing the necessary
pleading or motion and assiduously attending the scheduled
hearings. This is specially significant for a lawyer who money or property collected or received for or from the
represents an accused in a criminal case. client.

The accused is guaranteed the right to counsel under the When a lawyer collects or receives money from his client for
Constitution. However, this right can only be meaningful if a particular purpose (such as for filing fees, registration fees,
the accused is accorded ample legal assistance by his transportation and office expenses), he should promptly
lawyer: account to the client how the money was spent. If he does
not use the money for its intended purpose, he must
immediately return it to the client. His failure either to
... The right to counsel proceeds from the fundamental
render an accounting or to return the money (if the intended
principle of due process which basically means that a person
purpose of the money does not materialize) constitutes a
must be heard before being condemned. The due process
blatant disregard of Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional
requirement is a part of a person's basic rights; it is not a
Responsibility.
mere formality that may be dispensed with or performed
perfunctorily.
Moreover, a lawyer has the duty to deliver his clients funds
or properties as they fall due or upon demand. His failure to
The right to counsel must be more than just the presence of
return the clients money upon demand gives rise to the
a lawyer in the courtroom or the mere propounding of
presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use
standard questions and objections. The right to counsel
to the prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in
means that the accused is amply accorded legal assistance
him by the client. It is a gross violation of general morality
extended by a counsel who commits himself to the cause for
as well as of professional ethics; it impairs public confidence
the defense and acts accordingly. The right assumes an
in the legal profession and deserves punishment. Indeed, it
active involvement by the lawyer in the proceedings,
may border on the criminal as it may constitute a prima facie
particularly at the trial of the case, his bearing constantly in
case of swindling or estafa.
mind of the basic rights of the accused, his being well-
versed on the case, and his knowing the fundamental
procedures, essential laws and existing jurisprudence. Respondent never denied receiving P18,000 from
complainant for the purpose of posting a bond to secure the
provisional liberty of her son. He never used the money for

its intended purpose yet also never returned it to the client.


Worse, he unjustifiably refused to turn over the amount to
[T]he right of an accused to counsel is beyond question a complainant despite the latters repeated demands.
fundamental right. Without counsel, the right to a fair trial
itself would be of little consequence, for it is through counsel
Moreover, respondent rendered no service that would have
that the accused secures his other rights. In other words,
entitled him to the P30,000 attorneys fees. As a rule, the
the right to counsel is the right to effective assistance of
right of a lawyer to a reasonable compensation for his
counsel.
services is subject to two requisites: (1) the existence of an
attorney-client relationship and (2) the rendition by the
The right of an accused to counsel finds substance in the lawyer of services to the client. Thus, a lawyer who does not
performance by the lawyer of his sworn duty of fidelity to his render legal services is not entitled to attorneys fees.
client. Tersely put, it means an effective, efficient and truly Otherwise, not only would he be unjustly enriched at the
decisive legal assistance, not a simply perfunctory expense of the client, he would also be rewarded for his
representation. negligence and irresponsibility.

In this case, after accepting the criminal case against Respondent Failed to Uphold the Integrity and
complainants son and receiving his attorneys fees, Dignity of the Legal Profession
respondent did nothing that could be considered as effective
and efficient legal assistance. For all intents and purposes,
For his failure to comply with the exacting ethical standards
respondent abandoned the cause of his client. Indeed, on
of the legal profession, respondent failed to obey Canon 7 of
account of respondents continued inaction, complainant was
the Code of Professional Responsibility:
compelled to seek the services of the Public Attorneys
Office. Respondents lackadaisical attitude towards the case
of complainants son was reprehensible. Not only did it CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD
prejudice complainants son, it also deprived him of his THE INTEGRITY AND THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
constitutional right to counsel. Furthermore, in failing to use PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
the amount entrusted to him for posting a bond to secure INTEGRATED BAR. (emphasis supplied)
the provisional liberty of his client, respondent unduly
impeded the latters constitutional right to bail.
Indeed, a lawyer who fails to abide by the Canons and Rules
of the Code of Professional Responsibility disrespects the
Respondent Failed to Return said Code and everything that it stands for. In so doing, he
His Clients Money disregards the ethics and disgraces the dignity of the legal
profession.
The fiduciary nature of the relationship between counsel and
client imposes on a lawyer the duty to account for the Lawyers should always live up to the ethical standards of the
legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Public confidence in law and in lawyers may [Emphasis and Underscoring Supplied]
be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a
member of the bar. Thus, every lawyer should act and
In the case at bench, the R TC decision, dated May 26,
comport himself in a manner that would promote public
2011, awarded MDAHI approximately P65,000,000.00. When
confidence in the integrity of the legal profession.
Paramount Insurance offered a compromise settlement in
the amount of Pl5,000,000.00, it was clear as daylight that
Respondent was undeserving of the trust reposed in him. MDAHI never consented to the said offer. As can be gleaned
Instead of using the money for the bond of the from Atty. Camacho's letter, MDAHI did not sign the
complainants son, he pocketed it. He failed to observe conforme regarding the compromise agreement.
candor, fairness and loyalty in his dealings with his client. He
failed to live up to his fiduciary duties. By keeping the money
Glaringly, despite the lack of a written special authority, Atty.
for himself despite his undertaking that he would facilitate
Camacho agreed to a lower judgment award on behalf of his
the release of complainants son, respondent showed lack of
client and filed a satisfaction of judgment before the R TC.
moral principles. His transgression showed him to be a
The said pleading also failed to bear the conformity of his
swindler, a deceitful person and a shame to the legal
client. Although MDAHI subsequently received the payment
profession.
of P15M from Paramount Insurance, it does not erase Atty.
Camacho's transgression in reaching the compromise
35 agreement without the prior consent of his client.
A.C. No. 10910 January 12, 2016
[Formerly CBD Case No. 12-3594) For entering into a compromise agreement without the
ANTERO M. SISON, JR., Complainant, written authority of his client, Atty. Camacho violated Rule
1.01 of the CPR, which states that " [a] lawyer shall not
vs.
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
ATTY. MANUEL N. CAMACHO, Respondent. conduct." Members of the Bar must always conduct
themselves in a way that promotes public confidence in the
The Court finds that Atty. Camacho violated Rules 1.01 and integrity of the legal profession.
16.01 of the CPR.

36
Entering into a compromise
G.R. No. 159781 February 2, 2011
agreement without written
authority of the client PETER BEJARASCO, JR., Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
Those in the legal profession must always conduct
themselves with honesty and integrity in all their dealings.
Members of the Bar took their oath to conduct themselves The general rule is that a client is bound by the counsels
according to the best of their knowledge and discretion with acts, including even mistakes in the realm of procedural
all good fidelity as well to the courts as to their clients and to technique. The rationale for the rule is that a counsel, once
delay no man for money or malice. These mandates apply retained, holds the implied authority to do all acts necessary
especially to dealings of lawyers with their clients or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and management
considering the highly fiduciary nature of their relationship. of the suit in behalf of his client, such that any act or
omission by counsel within the scope of the authority is
regarded, in the eyes of the law, as the act or omission of
In the practice of law, lawyers constantly formulate
the client himself. A recognized exception to the rule is
compromise agreements for the benefit of their clients.
when the reckless or gross negligence of the counsel
Article 1878 of the Civil Code provides that " [ s ]pecial
deprives the client of due process of law. For the exception
powers of attorney are necessary in the following cases: xxx
to apply, however, the gross negligence should not be
(3) To compromise, to submit questions to arbitration, to
accompanied by the clients own negligence or malice,
renounce the right to appeal from a judgment, to waive
considering that the client has the duty to be vigilant in
objections to the venue of an action or to abandon a
respect of his interests by keeping himself up-to-date on the
prescription already acquired xxx."
status of the case. Failing in this duty, the client should
suffer whatever adverse judgment is rendered against him.
In line with the fiduciary duty of the Members of the Bar,
Section 23, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court specifies a
Truly, a litigant bears the responsibility to monitor the status
stringent requirement with respect to compromise
of his case, for no prudent party leaves the fate of his case
agreements, to wit:
entirely in the hands of his lawyer. It is the clients duty to
be in contact with his lawyer from time to time in order to be
Sec. 23. Authority of attorneys to bind clients. - Attorneys informed of the progress and developments of his case;4
have authority to bind their clients in any case by any hence, to merely rely on the bare reassurances of his lawyer
agreement in relation thereto made in writing, and in taking that everything is being taken care of is not enough.
appeals, and in all matters of ordinary judicial procedure.
But they cannot, without special authority,
Here, the petitioner took nearly 16 months from the issuance
compromise their client's litigation, or receive
of the entry of judgment by the CA, and almost 22 months
anything in discharge of a client's claim but the full
from when the RTC affirmed the convictions before he
amount in cash.
actually filed his petition for review in the CA. He ought to
have been sooner alerted about his dire situation by the fact No lawyer is obliged to advocate for every person who may
that an unreasonably long time had lapsed since the RTC wish to become his client, but once he agrees to take up the
had handed down its dismissal of his appeal without Atty. cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and
Besario having updated him on the developments, including must be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in
showing to him a copy of the expected petition for review. him.11 Further, among the fundamental rules of ethics is the
Also, he could have himself verified at the CA whether or not principle that an attorney who undertakes an action
the petition for review had been filed, especially upon impliedly stipulates to carry it to its termination, that is, until
realizing that Atty. Besario had started making himself scarce the case becomes final and executory. A lawyer is not at
to him. In short, the petitioners failure to know or to find liberty to abandon his client and withdraw his services
out the real status of his appeal rendered him undeserving without reasonable cause and only upon notice appropriate
of any sympathy from the Court vis--vis the negligence of in the circumstances.12 Any dereliction of duty by a counsel,
his former counsel. affects the client.13 This means that his client is entitled to
the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is
authorized by the law and he may expect his lawyer to
The right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due
assert every such remedy or defense.14
process, but is merely a statutory privilege that may be
exercised only in the manner prescribed by the law.5 The
right is unavoidably forfeited by the litigant who does not The records reveal that indeed the respondent did not file a
comply with the manner thus prescribed. So it is with the motion for reconsideration of the NLRC such that the said
petitioner. decision eventually had become final and executory.
Respondent does not refute this. His excuse that he did not
know how to file a motion for reconsideration is lame and
Rule 18.01 unacceptable. After complainant had expressed an interest
A lawyer shall not undertake a legal to file a motion for reconsideration, it was incumbent upon
service which he knows or should counsel to diligently return to his books and re-familiarize
know that he is not qualified to render. himself with the procedural rules for a motion for
reconsideration. Filing a motion for reconsideration is not a
However, he may render such service complicated legal task.
if, with the consent of his client, he can
obtain as collaborating counsel a We are however, not unaware that respondent had been
lawyer who is competent on the forthright and candid with his client when he warned her of
matter. his lack of experience as a new lawyer. We are also not
unaware that he had advised complainant to get a new
lawyer. However, his candor cannot absolve him. As already
Rule 18.02 stressed by this Court:
A lawyer shall not handle any legal
matter without adequate preparation. A lawyer is expected to be familiar with these rudiments of
law and procedure and anyone who acquires his service is
Rule 18.03 entitled to not just competent service but also whole-hearted
devotion to his clients cause. It is the duty of a lawyer to
A lawyer shall not neglect a legal
serve his client with competence and diligence and he should
matter entrusted to him, and his exert his best efforts to protect within the bounds of law the
negligence in connection therewith interest of his client. A lawyer should never neglect a legal
shall render him liable. matter entrusted to him, otherwise his negligence in fulfilling
his duty will render him liable for disciplinary action.15

Rule 18.04
Again, the Court held in the case of Santos v. Lazaro,16 that
A lawyer shall keep the client informed "Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility17
of the status of his case and shall explicitly provides that negligence of lawyers in connection
respond within a reasonable time to with legal matters entrusted to them for handling shall
the client's request for information. render them liable.

Without a proper revocation of his authority and withdrawal


37 as counsel, respondent remains counsel of record and
A.C. No. 5817 May 27, 2004 whether or not he has a valid cause to withdraw from the
EMMA V. DE JUAN, complainant, case, he cannot just do so and leave his client out in the
vs. cold. An attorney may only retire from the case either by a
ATTY. OSCAR R. BARIA III, respondent. written consent of his client or by permission of the court
after due notice and hearing, in which event the attorney
The core issue is whether the respondent committed should see to it that the name of the new attorney is
culpable negligence, as would warrant disciplinary action, in recorded in the case.18 Respondent did not comply with
failing to file for the complainant a motion for these obligations.
reconsideration from the decision of the NLRC.
the fact that he signed the appellant's brief. His claim that
he merely accepted payment but that he asked another
lawyer to prepare the brief is an obvious subterfuge. He has
38 not even named the lawyer assuming that the latter is real.
It is hard to see why respondent should personally accept
A.C. No. 1372 June 27, 2002
payment and the transcripts of stenographic notes from
SPOUSES LIRIO U. RABANAL AND CAYETANO complainant if he did not intend to prepare the appellant's
D. RABANAL, complainants, brief. Moreover, the fact that respondent filed a motion for
vs. reconsideration after the dismissal of the appeal only
ATTY. FAUSTINO F. TUGADE, respondent. confirms that he was indeed Cayetano's lawyer.

The records clearly show that respondent Atty. Faustino F.


Respondent claims that he was not the counsel of Tugade was remiss in the performance of his duties as
complainant Cayetano Rabanal prior to the filing of a motion counsel of complainant Cayetano Rabanal. He was given by
for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals and he could the Court of Appeals an extension of time totalling 60 days
not be held responsible for the dismissal of complainant's within which to file the appellant's brief, but he failed to file
appeal for failure of counsel to file the appellant's brief. We the same. He thus violated the Code of Professional
disagree. Responsibility which provides:

The absence of a written contract does not preclude a RULE 12.03. A lawyer shall not, after obtaining
finding that there was a professional relationship which extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or
merits attorney's fees for professional services rendered. A briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the
written contract is not an essential element in the same or offering an explanation for his failure to
employment of an attorney; the contract may be express or do so.
implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the
advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and received RULE 18.03. A lawyer shall not neglect a legal
in any matter pertinent to his profession.20 Thus, in matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
Villafuerte v. Cortez,21 the Court held that the admission of connection therewith shall render him liable.
respondent lawyer that he received payment from
complainant is sufficient evidence to establish a lawyer-client
relationship. In this case, complainant sought and received Indeed, a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client. He
legal advice from respondent Tugade, who admitted that he should be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in
agreed to sign the appellant's brief to be filed and that he him, remembering always that his actions or omissions are
received P600.00 from complainant spouses. It is therefore binding on his clients. In this case, the failure of respondent
clear that a lawyer-client relationship existed between the to file the appellant's brief resulted in the dismissal of the
two. appeal. As a consequence, the decision in the trial court
finding complainant guilty of homicide became final and
executory and he was sentenced to ten years of
It is immaterial that respondent Tugade assisted Cayetano in imprisonment. As has been held:
the case as a mere friend or "kababayan" of the latter. In
Junio v. Grupo,22 respondent also denied the existence of a
lawyer-client relationship, stating that complainant was a An attorney is bound to protect his client's interest
close personal friend whom he helped in a personal capacity. to the best of his ability and with utmost diligence.
Nonetheless, it was held: (Del Rosario vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 159)
A failure to file brief for his client certainly
constitutes inexcusable negligence on his part.
To constitute professional employment it is not (People vs. Villar, 46 SCRA 107) The respondent
essential that the client should have employed the has indeed committed a serious lapse in the duty
attorney professionally on any previous occasion. . owed by him to his client as well as to the Court
. It is not necessary that any retainer should have not to delay litigation and to aid in the speedy
been paid, promised, or charged for: neither is it administration of justice. (People vs. Daban, 43
material that the attorney consulted did not SCRA 185; People vs. Estocada, 43 SCRA 515).24
afterward undertake the case about which the
consultation was had. If a person, in respect to his
business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults It should likewise be noted that respondent failed to notify
with his attorney in his professional capacity with the IBP of his change of address, thus delaying the
the view to obtaining professional advice or resolution of this case. Service of notice and other pleadings,
assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or which must be furnished to the parties, must be made at the
acquiesces in such consultation, then the last address on record. If the parties are represented by
professional employment must be regarded as counsel, such notices shall be sent instead to the counsel's
established. . . . last given address on record in the absence of a proper and
adequate notice of a change of address, unless service upon
the party himself is ordered.25
In this case, Cayetano consulted respondent Tugade in his
professional capacity in order to obtain advice concerning his
appeal. Respondent agreed, as shown by his acceptance of In Resurreccion v. Sayson,26 the Court attributed the delay in
the payment to him, his receipt of the TSNs of the case, and the resolution of an administrative case to respondent
lawyer, after finding that "The 27-year delay in the
resolution of this case was, to a large extent, caused by his
failure to appear before the Office of the Solicitor General
and to inform the IBP of his change of address, a failure that
also indicated his lack of regard for the very serious charges
brought against him." Similarly, respondent Tugade likewise
showed a disregard of the charge against him, and the IBP
properly made its recommendation solely on the basis of
complainants' testimonies and the documentary evidence.

39