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PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 1

CANON 7 – 9 • Canon 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
FAILURE TO PAY LOAN 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
SPOUSES CONCEPCION V ATTY. ELMER DELA ROSA
The court has repeatedly emphasized that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is
Facts: This is an administrative case that stemmed from a verified complaint filed by
one imbued with trust and confidence. And as true as any natural tendency goes, this “trust
complainants Sps. Concepcion against respondent Atty. Elmer Dela Rosa, charging him with
and confidence” is prone to abuse. The rule against borrowing of money by a lawyer from his
gross misconduct for violating, among others, Rule 16.04 of the CPR.
clients is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking advantage of his influence over his client.
Complainant alleges that from 1997 until August 2008, respondent served as their retained
Dispositive Portion: Atty. Elmer dela Rosa is found guilty of violating Canon 7 and Rule
lawyer and counsel. Complainants wanted to open their pawnshop business but did not
16.04, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is suspended from the
materialize and Atty. Dela Rosa, as their counsel, knew of the fact that complainants had
practice of law for a period of three (3) years effective finality of the decision, with a stern
money intact form their failed venture, and borrowed money from them in the amount of
warning that a commission of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely
P2.5M. The checks were issued and Atty. Dela Rosa photocopied them and verified he
received the original checks and that he promises to pay them within 5 days with an interest
of 5%. The checks were personally encased by him.
QUANTUM MERUIT
Atty. Dela Rosa failed to pay and despite numerous demands from the Complainant, did not
return the money. Hence an administrative complaint was filed against him by Sps. FRANCISCO L. ROSARIO, JR. v. LELLANI DE GUZMAN, et al
Concepcion.
FACTS: Sps. Pedro and Rosita De Guzman engaged the legal services of Atty. Francisco
Respondent denied borrowing the P2.5M insisting that Nault was the real debtor. He also Rosario Jr. as defense counsel in the complaint filed against them by Loreta Chong for
claimed that complainants had been attempting to collect from Nault and that he was engaged annulment of contract and recovery of possession with damages involving a parcel of land in
for that specific purpose. Parañaque City. Spouses de Guzman, represented by petitioner, won their case at all levels.
While the case was pending before this Court, Spouses de Guzman died in a vehicular
The investigating Commissioner of the IBP concluded that respondent’s actions degraded the accident. Thereafter, they were substituted by their children, the respondents. Petitioner filed
integrity of the legal profession and clearly violated Rule 16.04 and Canons 7 and 16 of the the Motion to Determine Attorney’s Fees before the RTC. He alleged, among others, that he
CPR. Respondent’s failure to appear during the mandatory conferences further showed his had a verbal agreement with the deceased Spouses de Guzman that he would get 25% of
disrespect to the IBP-CPD. Accordingly, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that the market value of the subject land if the complaint filed against them by Chong would be
respondent be disbarred and that he be ordered to return the P2.5M to complainants, with dismissed. Despite the fact that he had successfully represented them, respondents refused
stipulated interest. his written demand for payment of the contracted attorney’s fees. Petitioner insisted that he
was entitled to an amount equivalent to 25% percent of the value of the subject land on the
The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Investigating Commissioner’s Report
basis of quantum meruit.
but reduced the penalty against respondent to indefinite suspension from the practice of law
and ordered the return of the P2.5M to the complainants with legal interest. RTC denied petitioner’s motion on the ground that it was filed out of time. The RTC wrote that
considering that the motion was filed too late, it had already lost jurisdiction over the case
Issue: Whether respondent should be held administratively liable for violating the CPR.
because a final decision could not be amended or corrected except for clerical errors or
Held: The court concurs with the IBP’s findings except as to its recommended penalty and its mistakes. There would be a variance of the judgment rendered if his claim for attorney’s fees
directive to return the amount of P2.5M, with legal interest to complainants. would still be included.

Under Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, a lawyer is prohibited from borrowing money from Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the RTC for lack of merit.
his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected: Hence, this petition.

• Canon 16 – A lawyer shall hold in truest all moneys and properties of his clients that ISSUE: Whether the petition is entitled to attorney’s fees as verbally agreed upon on the
may come in possession. basis of quantum meruit.
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 2

HELD: Yes. In order to resolve the issues in this case, it is necessary to discuss the two substantiate the details of his oral agreement with Spouses de Guzman. A fair and reasonable
concepts of attorney’s fees – ordinary and extraordinary. In its ordinary sense, it is the amount of attorney's fees should be 15% of the market value of the property.
reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer by his client for legal services rendered. In its
extraordinary concept, it is awarded by the court to the successful litigant to be paid by the DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Court grants the Motion to
losing party as indemnity for damages. The attorney’s fees being claimed by the petitioner Determine Attorney's Fees filed by petitioner Atty. Francisco L. Rosario, Jr. Based on
refers to the compensation for professional services rendered, and not as indemnity for quantum meruit, the amount of attorney's fees is at the rate of 15% of the market value of the
damages. He is demanding payment from respondents for having successfully handled the parcel of land, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1292, at the time of payment.
civil case filed by Chong against Spouses de Guzman.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The award of attorney’s fees by the RTC in the amount of P10,000.00 in favor of Spouses de
OROLA V. RAMOS
Guzman, which was subsequently affirmed by the CA and this Court, is of no moment. The
said award, made in its extraordinary concept as indemnity for damages, forms part of the FACTS: Complainants Josephine, Myrna, Manuel, Mary Angelyn, and Marjorie Melba are the
judgment recoverable against the losing party and is to be paid directly to Spouses de children of the late Trinidad Laserna-Orola, married to Emilio Q. Orola. Complainant Karen
Guzman (substituted by respondents) and not to petitioner. Thus, to grant petitioner’s motion Orola is the daughter of Maricar Alba-Orola and Antonio L. Orola, the deceased brother of
to determine attorney’s fees would not result in a double award of attorney’s fees. And, the above-named complainants and the son of Emilio.
contrary to the RTC ruling, there would be no amendment of a final and executory decision
or variance in judgment. As to the timeliness of the filing, this Court holds that the questioned In the settlement of Trinidad’s estate, the parties were represented by the following: (a) Atty.
motion to determine attorney’s fees was seasonably filed. With respect to petitioner’s Roy M. Villa as counsel for and in behalf of Josephine, Myrna, Manuel, Mary Angelyn, and
entitlement to the claimed attorney’s fees, it is the Court’s considered view that he is deserving Marjorie (Heirs of Trinidad); (b) Atty. Ely F. Azarraga, Jr. as counsel for and in behalf of
of it and that the amount should be based on quantum meruit. Maricar, Karen, and the other heirs of the late Antonio (Heirs of Antonio), with respondent
Atty. Joseph Ramos as collaborating counsel; and (c) Atty. Aquiliana Brotarlo as counsel
Quantum meruit – literally meaning as much as he deserves – is used as basis for for and in behalf of Emilio, the initially appointed administrator of Trinidad’s estate.
determining an attorney’s professional fees in the absence of an express agreement. The
recovery of attorney’s fees on the basis of quantum meruit is a device that prevents an In the course of the proceedings, the Heirs of Trinidad and the Heirs of Antonio moved for the
unscrupulous client from running away with the fruits of the legal services of counsel without removal of Emilio as administrator and instead, sought the appointment of the latter’s son,
paying for it and also avoids unjust enrichment on the part of the attorney himself. An attorney Manuel Orola, which the RTC granted. On 10 October 2017, respondent attorney filed an
must show that he is entitled to reasonable compensation for the effort in pursuing the client’s Entry of Appearance as collaborating counsel for Emilio in the same case and moved
cause, taking into account certain factors in fixing the amount of legal fees. for the reconsideration.

Rule 20.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility lists the guidelines for determining the Due to the respondent’s new engagement, complainants filed a disbarment complaint,
proper amount of attorney fees. Petitioner unquestionably rendered legal services for claiming that he violated: (a) Rule 15.03 of the Code, as he undertook to represent conflicting
respondents’ deceased parents in the civil case for annulment of contract and recovery of interests in the subject case; and (b) Section 20(e), Rule 138 of the Rules, as he breached
possession with damages. He successfully represented Spouses de Guzman from the trial the trust and confidence reposed upon him by his clients, the Heirs of Antonio. Complainants
court up to this Court for a lengthy period of 17 years. The Court is certain that it was not an further claimed that while Maricar, the surviving spouse of Antonio and the mother of Karen,
easy task for petitioner to defend his clients’ cause for such a long period of time, considering consented to the withdrawal of respondent’s appearance, the same was obtained only on
the heavy and demanding legal workload of petitioner. It cannot be denied that petitioner October 18, 2007, after he had already entered his appearance for Emilio on October 10,
devoted much time and energy in handling the case for respondents. 2007. Respondent failed to disclose such fact to all the affected heirs and, as such, was not
able to obtain their written consent as required under the Rules.
Given the considerable amount of time spent, the diligent effort exerted by petitioner, and the
quality of work shown by him in ensuring the successful defense of his clients, petitioner Respondent contended that he never appeared as counsel for the Heirs of Trinidad or for the
clearly deserves to be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees for services rendered. Justice and Heirs of Antonio. He pointed out that the records of the case readily show that the Heirs of
equity dictate that petitioner be paid his professional fee based on quantum meruit. The Trinidad were represented by Atty. Villa, while the Heirs of Antonio were exclusively
Court, however, is resistant in granting petitioner's prayer for an award of 25% attorney's fees represented by Atty. Azarraga. He averred that he only accommodated Maricar's request to
based on the value of the property subject of litigation because petitioner failed to clearly temporarily appear on her behalf as their counsel of record could not attend the scheduled
June 16 and July 14, 2006 hearings and that his appearances thereat were free of charge. In
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 3

fact, he obtained Maricar’s permission for him to withdraw from the case as no further Records reveal that respondent was the collaborating counsel not only for Maricar as claimed
communications transpired after these two hearings. Likewise, he consulted Maricar before by him, but for all the Heirs of Antonio. In the course thereof, the Heirs of Trinidad and the
he undertook to represent Emilio in the same case. He added that he had no knowledge of Heirs of Antonio succeeded in removing Emilio as administrator for having committed acts
the fact that the late Antonio had other heirs and, in this vein, asserted that no information prejudicial to their interests. Hence, when respondent proceeded to represent Emilio for the
was disclosed to him by Maricar or their counsel of record at any instance. Finally, he clarified purpose of seeking his reinstatement as administrator in the same case, he clearly worked
that his representation for Emilio in the subject case was more of a mediator, rather than a against the very interest of the Heirs of Antonio – particularly, Karen – in violation of the above-
litigator, and that since no settlement was forged between the parties, he formally withdrew stated rule.
his appearance on December 6, 2007. Respondent submitted the affidavits of Maricar and
Atty. Azarraga relative to his limited appearance and his consultation with Maricar prior to his Respondent's justification that no confidential information was relayed to him
engagement as counsel for Emilio. cannot fully exculpate him for the charges against him since the rule on conflict of
interests, provides an absolute prohibition from representation with respect to
IBP found respondent guilty of representing conflicting interests and, considering that it was opposing parties in the same case. That respondent’s previous appearances for and in
respondent's first offense, the IBP imposed a suspension of 6 months from practice. behalf of the Heirs of Antonio was only a friendly accommodation cannot equally be given any
credence since the aforesaid rule holds even if the inconsistency is remote or merely probable
ISSUE: Whether respondent is guilty of representing conflicting interests in violation of Rule or even if the lawyer has acted in good faith and with no intention to represent conflicting
15.03 of the Code interests.
HELD: YES. The Court concurred with the IBP but reduced the penalty to 3 months. Neither can respondent's asseveration that his engagement by Emilio was more of a mediator
than a litigator and for the purpose of forging a settlement among the family members render
CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL
the rule inoperative. In fact, even on that assertion, his conduct is likewise improper
HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.
since Rule 15.04, Canon 15 of the Code similarly requires the lawyer to obtain the
written consent of all concerned before he may act as mediator, conciliator or arbitrator
Rule 15.03 - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all in settling disputes. Respondent failed in this respect as the records show that respondent
concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. was remiss in his duty to make a full disclosure of his impending engagement as Emilio’s
counsel to all the Heirs of Antonio – particularly, Karen – and equally secure their express
There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or written consent before consummating the same. Besides, it must be pointed out that a lawyer
more opposing parties. The test is “whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer's who acts as such in settling a dispute cannot represent any of the parties to it.
duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if
he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other In the foregoing light, the Court finds the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for a
client.” This rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been period of three (3) months to be more appropriate taking into consideration the following
confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, factors: first, respondent is a first time offender; second, respondent merely accommodated
there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to Maricar’s request out of gratis to temporarily represent her only during the June 16 and July
perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents 14, 2006 hearings due to her lawyer’s unavailability; third, respondent had no knowledge that
him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client the late Antonio had any other heirs aside from Maricar whose consent he actually acquired
any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of (albeit shortly after his first appearance as counsel for and in behalf of Emilio), hence, it can
interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full be said that he acted in good faith; and fourth, complainants admit that respondent did not
discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of acquire confidential information from the Heirs of Antonio nor did he use against them any
unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof. knowledge obtained in the course of his previous employment, hence, the said heirs were not
in any manner prejudiced by his subsequent engagement with Emilio.
It must, however, be noted that a lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does not
cover transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client. The DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Atty. Joseph Ador Ramos is hereby held GUILTY of representing
intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the client’s interests only on conflicting interests in violation of Rule 15.03,Canon 15 of the Code of Professional
matters that he previously handled for the former client and not for matters that arose after Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period
the lawyer-client relationship has terminated. of three (3) months, with WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future
will be dealt with more severely.
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 4

ISSUE: Whether respondent is guilty of representing conflicting interests when he entered his
appearance as counsel for RBP in the case for annulment of mortgage filed by complainant
MABINI COLLEGES, INC. vs. ATTY. JOSE D. PAJARILLO against RBP.
FACTS: HELD: Yes. The respondent represented conflicting interest in violation of Canon 15, Rule
15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that [a] lawyer shall not
Mabini Colleges, Inc., had a Board of Trustees (BOT) which was divided in to two opposing
represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
factions: Adeva Group and the Lukban Group. Complainant appointed the respondent as its
disclosure of the facts. This rule prohibits a lawyer from representing new clients whose
corporate secretary. In 1999, the Adeva Group issued an unnumbered Board Resolution
interests oppose those of a former client in any manner, whether or not they are parties in the
which authorized the EVP and Treasurer of the Complainant and the VP for Administration
same action or on totally unrelated cases. In Maturan v. Gonzales, we further explained the
and Finance, to apply for a loan with the Rural Bank of Paracale (RBP) in favor of the
rationale for the prohibition:
complainant.
The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney and client, which is one of
Later, the Lukban Group sent a letter to RBP to oppose the loan application because the
trust and confidence of the highest degree. A lawyer becomes familiar with all the facts
Adeva Group appointed Guerra and Echano who were allegedly not registered as
connected with his client’s case. He learns from his client the weak points of the action as
stockholders in the Stock and Transfer Book, as members of the BOT. The Lukban Group
well as the strong ones. Such knowledge must be considered sacred and guarded with care.
also alleged that the complainant was having financial difficulties.
No opportunity must be given him to take advantage of the client’s secrets. A lawyer must
RBP granted the loan application secured by a REM over the properties of the complainant. have the fullest confidence of his client. For if the confidence is abused the profession will
suffer by the loss thereof.
SEC issued an Order which nullified the appointment of Guerra and Echano. As a result,
complainant sent a letter to RBP to inform the latter of the SEC Order. Meanwhile, Hornilla v. Salunat, we explained the test to determine the existence of conflict of
interest:
RBP sent a letter to the complainant acknowledging receipt of the SEC Order and informing
the latter that the SEC Order was referred to RBP’s legal counsel, herein respondent. The There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more
complainant alleged that it was only upon receipt of such letter that it became aware that opposing parties. The test is whether or not in behalf of one client it is the lawyer’s duty to
respondent is also the legal counsel of RBP. fight for an issue or claim, but is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues
for one client this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client. This
Complainant filed a complaint for Annulment of Mortgage with a Prayer for Preliminary rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also
Injunction against RBP. Respondent entered his appearance as counsel for RBP. 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
Complainant filed complaint for disbarment against the respondent for allegedly representing
will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether
conflicting interests and for failing to exhibit candor, fairness, and loyalty.
he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired
Respondent raised three defenses. First, respondent argued that Marcel N. Lukban, et. al. through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the
who filed the case cannot represent the complainant because they were not duly authorized acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of
by the Board of Directors. Second, respondent claimed that he is not covered by the undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing
prohibition on conflict of interest which applies only to the legal counsel of complainant. in the performance thereof.
Respondent argued that he merely served as the corporate secretary. Third, respondent
The rule prohibiting conflict of interest applies to situations where in a lawyer would be
argued that there was no conflict of interest when he represented RBP in the case for
representing a client whose interest is directly adverse to any of his present or former clients.
annulment of mortgage because all the documents and information related to the loan
It also applies when the lawyer represents a client against a former client in a controversy
transaction between RBP and complainant were public record.
that is related, directly or indirectly, to the subject matter of the previous litigations in which
The Investigating Commissioner found respondent guilty of representing conflicting interests he appeared for the former client. This rule applies regardless of the degree of adverse
and recommended suspension for at least one year. The Board of Governors of the IBP interests. What a lawyer owes his former client is to maintain inviolate the client’s confidence
affirmed the findings of the Investigating Commissioner and imposed a penalty of suspension or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which he
for one year against respondent. MR denied. previously represented him. A lawyer may only be allowed to represent a client involving the
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 5

same or a substantially related matter that is materially adverse to the former client only if the Complainants Silvestra Medina and heirs of her sister Alicia entrusted the owner’s duplicate
former client consents to it after consultation. of certain TCTs (TCT 13866 and TCT 3900) to Atty Lizardo. Purportedly, the TCTs covered
Lots 456, 457 and 458, which were supposed to be partitioned, and when they sought to
The finding that respondent was compensated by complainant for his retained legal services recover the same, Atty. Lizardo refused to return the TCTs.
is supported by the evidence on record, the cash vouchers from 1994 to 2001. Clearly,
complainant was respondent’s former client. And respondent appeared as counsel of RBP in They thus pray that Atty. Lizardo be required to return the same by the Commission on Bar
a case filed by his former client against RBP. This makes respondent guilty of representing Discipline.
conflicting interests since respondent failed to show any written consent of all concerned
(particularly the complainant) given after a full disclosure of the facts representing conflicting Atty. Lizardo however claims that the complainants secured his services as counsel for the
interests. Partition of the said properties, and that they already sold the same to a certain Martinez. As
proof of the same, he presented a Malayang Salaysay signed by Silvestra Medina where Lots
We also note that the respondent acted for the complainant’s interest on the loan transaction 457 and 458 covered by TCT 13866 were sold to Martinez. He allegedly refused to return the
between RBP and the complainant when he sent a letter dated May 14, 1999 to RBP to TCTs since the complainants did not secure the consent of Martinez the buyer.
assure the latter of the financial capacity of the complainant to pay the loan. But as counsel
for RBP in the case for annulment of mortgage, he clearly acted against the interest of the When asked about the proof of sale of Lot 456 covered by TCT 3900, he presented en
complainant, his former client Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale, covering the interests of the heirs of Alicia to the said Lot.

It is of no moment that all the documents and information in connection with loan transaction Atty Lizardo further claims that the complainants suddenly changed their tune when the
between RBO and the complainant were public records. In Hilado v. David, we laid down the partition was being implemented by the sheriff already.
following doctrinal pronouncements:
Complainants however refutes the allegation on the Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale,
The principle which forbids an attorney who has been engaged to represent a client from arguing they did not read it as it was prepared by Atty Lizardo only, and that they only agreed
thereafter appearing on behalf of the client’s opponent applies equally even though during to sell Lots 457 and 458 covered by TCT 13866.
the continuance of the employment nothing of a confidential nature was revealed to the
The IBP Investigating Commissioner noted the clear disparity in the intention of complainants
attorney by the client. Where it appeared that an attorney representing one party in litigation
to sell only TCT 13866 and not TCT 3900, given the Malayang Salaysay, and further noted
had formerly represented the adverse party with respect to the same matter involved in the
the statement of the complainants, “Paanong mangyaring naiipit e sya ang legal counsel po
litigation, the court need not inquire as to how much knowledge the attorney acquired from
namin. Siguro kami ang dapat niyang protektahan.” In addition, Martinez clearly admitted in
his former client during that relationship, before refusing to permit the attorney to represent
his affidavit attached to the response of Atty Lizardo that he was the one who shouldered all
the adverse party.
the legal expenses of Lizardo. There was a clear conflict of interest in this case, and in fact,
Finally, under Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, [p]roceedings for the disbarment, Atty Lizardo even participated in active deception, when he made the heirs sign the
suspension or discipline of attorneys may be taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale during the wake of their recently deceased mother (sister
the IBP upon the verified complaint of any person. We find that Marcel N. Lukban, et. al. can of Silvestra).
institute the complaint for disbarment even without authority from the Board of Directors of
IBP Board of Governors adopted the findings and recommended suspension of Lizardo for
the complainant.
two years.
DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Resolution No. XX-2013-770 and Resolution No. XXI-2014-290 of
Lizardo filed an MR, arguing that there was no conflict of interest, since when complainants
the IBP Board of Governors imposing a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for one
sold their share to Martinez, he represented them all during the Partition proceedings. He
year against respondent Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo are hereby AFFIRMED.
further claimed the Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale was signed two months after the wake.

The said MR was denied. He was further ordered to return the TCTs to the complainants.
SILVESTRA MEDINA vs. ATTY LIZARDO
ISSUE: Whether Lizardo represented conflicting interests in this case.
FACTS:
HELD: YES. There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of
This case involves the supposed conflict of interest exhibited by the respondent-lawyer. two or more opposing parties. The test is "whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 6

lawyer's duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In For this reason, we also uphold the grant of complainants' prayer for the return of the subject
brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the titles which they turned over to Atty. Lizardo for safekeeping. In any event, the return of said
other client." This rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been TCTs will not unduly prejudice Martinez who may cause his adverse claim to be duly
confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, annotated thereon.
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 DISPOSITIVE PORTION: SUSPENDED FOR ONE YEAR, ORDERED TO RETURN THE
him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client TCTs TO THE COMPLAINANTS.
any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of
WITHDRAWAL OF COMPLAINT
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 YUPANGCO-NAKPIL vs ATTY. ROBERTO UY
suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.
FACTS:
The rule prohibiting conflict of interest applies to situations wherein a lawyer would be
representing a client whose interest is directly adverse to any of his present or former clients. Rebecca was adjudged the sole and exclusive legal heir of Pacita by virtue of an RTC order
It also applies when the lawyer represents a client against a former client in a controversy in the settlement proceedings of Pacita’s estate. Atty. Uy is Rebecca’s illegitimate half cousin.
that is related, directly or indirectly, to the subject matter of the previous litigation in which he In this administrative complaint against Atty. Uy for unprofessional and unethical conduct,
appeared for the former client. This rule applies regardless of the degree of adverse Rebecca alleged, through her attorney in fact, Bella, that Atty. Uy has allegedly refused to
interests. What a lawyer owes his former client is to maintain inviolate the client's confidence comply with the RTC order. Atty. Uy allegedly has refused and failed to account for and deliver
or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which he the shares of Pacita in several corporations to Rebecca. Atty. Uy was also claimed to have
previously represented him. A lawyer may only be allowed to represent a client involving the mortgaged a property without Rebecca’s consent, to which the latter has been declared as
same or a substantially related matter that is materially adverse to the former client only if the the true and beneficial owner pursuant to a Trust Agreement.
former client consents to it after consultation.
Rebecca claims that Atty. Uy only transferred the property when the former already filed
several cases against the latter. Atty. Uy sought the dismissal of the complaint and invoked
forum shopping and prescription. Atty. Uy argued that the many cases filed by Rebecca raised
In the case at bar, it is undeniable that complainants Silvestra and Santos, on one hand, and the same issue concerning the interpretation of the Trust Agreement, and that the
Martinez, on the other, have conflicting interests with regard to the disputed property, transactions between them occurred in the 90’s, without any complaint from Rebecca.
particularly Lot 456 covered by TCT No. 3900 which complainants assert they never sold to
Martinez. Atty. Lizardo now finds himself arguing against the ownership by Silvestra and Rebecca later filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint on the ground that the facts alleged only
Santos of their shares in the disputed property, which is the very legal position he was bound arose out of a misunderstanding and misapprehension of the real facts in dispute. Bella
to defend as their counsel in the partition case. however manifested that the investigation of the charges should continue. (“[n]o investigation
shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance, settlement, compromise,
His argument that he represented all their interests (which is to facilitate transfer to Martinez) restitution, withdrawal of the charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same."
in the partition proceedings. The Court disagrees however. It is apparent that Martinez was Separately, the Investigating Commissioner denied the claim of forum shopping, noting that
never a party to the Partition proceedings, and never was he included at any point in the disciplinary cases are sui generis and may, therefore, proceed independently”)
proceedings. If indeed their interests were the same, Lizardo should have included Martinez
in the proceedings as assignee of the heirs. These inactions make it hard for us to believe The IBP recommended 6 months suspension for violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR,
Atty. Lizardo's claim that Martinez engaged his services concurrently with Silvestra and Alicia opined that Rebecca’s Motion to Withdraw does not bar the investigation of the case pursuant
in the filing of the partition case. There is no credible proof on record that Atty. Lizardo was to Sec. 5, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, that there can be no forum shopping as an
from the beginning engaged to represent Silvestra, Alicia and Martinez as their common administrative case is sui generis.
counsel.
ISSUE: Whether Atty. Uy is administratively liable
Atty. Lizardo's withholding of the TCTs entrusted to him by his clients to protect another
RULING: YES. Although the squabble that gave rise to this complaint was largely an internal
purported client who surreptitiously acquired his services despite a conflict of interest is
affair which had already been laid to rest by the parties as exhibited by Rebecca’s Motion to
therefore a clear violation of several provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Withdraw. It appears that the parties had conflicting claims regarding certain properties. The
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 7

Court cannot rule on the propriety of their actions as there was a settlement or compromise a. In this case, Nilo Lanticse (Lanticse) filed a complaint against Atty. Silvosa before the
executed between them. Rebecca even stated in her motion that she was satisfied with Atty. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Despite the execution of an affidavit of desistance by
Uy’s explanation of his actions, and there is no longer any basis in fact or in law for her the complainant in a homicide case in favor of Lanticse's father-in-law, Arsenio Cadinas
complaint. (Cadinas), Cadinas still remained in detention for more than two years. Atty. Silvosa
demanded P15,000 from Lanticse for the dismissal of the case and for the release of Cadinas.
Given this, the liability for alleged serious misconduct no longer holds water. However, Atty.
Uy still committed some form of misconduct by mortgaging a property given that there was b. The NBI set up an entrapment operation for Atty. Silvosa. GMA 7's television program
an apparent dispute over the same. Regardless of the merits of his claim, he should have Imbestigador videotaped and aired the actual entrapment operation. The footage was offered
exhibited restraint so as not to commit a property violation which would endanger the Bar’s and admitted as evidence, and viewed by the Sandiganbayan. Despite Atty. Silvosa's defense
reputation. The Court still holds him guilty of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR. of instigation, the Sandiganbayan convicted Atty. Silvosa.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Since this is his first offense, Atty. Uy is fined P15,000.00 and is In his defense, Atty Silvosa states :
sternly warned.
1. he resigned as prosecutor from the Esperon case on 18 October 2002. The trial court
FORMER PROSECUTOR APPEARING AS COUNSEL FOR THE ACCUSED released its decision in the Esperon case on 16 November 2005 and cancelled the accused's
bail. His claims that his appearance was only for the purpose of the reinstatement of bail. He
ATTY POLICARPIO CATALAN V. ATTY. JOSELITO SILVOSA also denies any relationship between himself and the accused.
FACTS: Atty Catalan filed a complaint for disbarment against atty Joselito Silvosa, based on 2. Pros. Toribio's allegations as "self-serving" and "purposely dug by [Atty. Catalan] and his
three causes of action: puppeteer to pursue persecution."
1. Atty. Silvosa appeared as counsel for the accused in the same case for which he previously 3. "conviction under the 2nd paragraph of Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code, do [sic] not
appeared as prosecutor. involve moral turpitude since the act involved 'do [sic] not amount to a crime.'" He further
claims that "it is not the lawyer in respondent that was convicted, but his capacity as a public
a. Atty. Catalan accused Atty. Silvosa of appearing as private counsel in a case where he
officer, the charge against respondent for which he was convicted falling under the category
previously appeared as public prosecutor, hence violating Rule 6.03 of the Code of
of crimes against public officers
Professional Responsibility. A part from the fact that Atty. Silvosa and the accused are
relatives and have the same middle name, Atty. Silvosa displayed manifest bias in the ISSUE: Should Atty Silvosa be disbarred?
accused's favor. Atty. Silvosa caused numerous delays in the trial of the Esperon case by
arguing against the position of the private prosecutor. HELD: Yes.

b. In 2000, Provincial Prosecutor Guillermo Ching granted Atty. Catalan's request to relieve 1. Atty. Silvosa violated Rule 6.03. When he entered his appearance on the Motion to Post
Atty. Silvosa from handling the Esperon case. The RTC rendered judgment convicting the Bail Bond Pending Appeal, Atty. Silvosa conveniently forgot Rule 15.03 which provides that
accused on 16 November 2005. On 23 November 2005, Atty. Silvosa, as private lawyer and "A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned
as counsel for the accused, filed a motion to reinstate bail pending finality of judgment of the given after a full disclosure of facts." Atty. Silvosa's attempts to minimize his involvement in
Esperon case. the same case on two occasions can only be described as desperate. He claims his
participation as public prosecutor was only to appear in the arraignment and in the pre-trial
2. Atty. Silvosa bribed his then colleague Prosecutor Phoebe Toribio (Pros. Toribio) for conference. He likewise claims his subsequent participation as collaborating counsel was
P30,000. Atty. Catalan presented the affidavit of Pros. Toribio. In a case for frustrated murder limited only to the reinstatement of the original bail. But the prohibition against representation
where Atty. Catalan's brother was a respondent, Pros. Toribio reviewed the findings of the of conflicting interests applies although the attorney's intentions were honest and he acted in
investigating judge and downgraded the offense from frustrated murder to less serious good faith.
physical injuries. During the hearing before Comm. Funa, Pros. Toribio testified that, while
still a public prosecutor at the time, Atty. Silvosa offered her .30,000 to reconsider her findings 2. The records show that Atty. Silvosa made an attempt to bribe Pros. Toribio and failed. Pros.
and uphold the charge of frustrated murder. Toribio executed her affidavit on 14 June 1999, a day after the failed bribery attempt, and had
it notarized by Atty. Nemesio Beltran, then President of the IBPBukidnon Chapter. There was
3. the Sandiganbayan convicted Atty. Silvosa in Criminal Case No. 27776 for direct bribery. no reason for Pros. Toribio to make false testimonies against Atty. Silvosa. Atty. Silvosa, on
the other hand, merely denied the accusation and dismissed it as persecution.
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 8

a. When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the direct bribery clearly falls under one of the grounds for disbarment under Section 27 of Rule
charges against him. He must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He 138. Disbarment follows as a consequence of Atty. Silvosa’s conviction of the crime. We are
must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times constrained to impose a penalty more severe than suspension because we find that Atty.
is expected of him.Atty. Silvosa failed in this respect. Silvosa is predisposed to flout the exacting standards of morality and decency required of a
member of the Bar. His excuse that his conviction was not in his capacity as a lawyer, but as
b. mere delay in the filing of an administrative complaint against a member of the bar does a public officer, is unacceptable and betrays the unmistakable lack of integrity in his character.
not automatically exonerate a respondent. Administrative offenses do not prescribe. No The practice of law is a privilege, and Atty. Silvosa has proved himself unfit to exercise this
matter how much time has elapsed from the time of the commission of the act complained of privilege.
and the time of the institution of the complaint, erring members of the bench and bar cannot
escape the disciplining arm of the Court. DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Atty. Joselito M. Silvosa is hereby DISBARRED and his
name ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be
3. findings in a criminal proceeding are binding in a disbarment proceeding. furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondent’s personal record
as attorney.
a. disbarment proceedings may be initiated by any interested person. There can be no doubt
of the right of a citizen to bring to the attention of the proper authority acts and doings of public
officers which a citizen feels are incompatible with the duties of the office and from which
conduct the public might or does suffer undesirable consequences. DIVIDING ATTORNEY’S FEES WITH NON-LAWYERS

It is of no moment that Atty. Catalan is not the complainant in Criminal Case No. 27776, and ENGR. GILBERT TUMBOKON vs. ATTY. MARIANO R. PEFIANCO
that Lanticse, the complainant therein, was not presented as a witness in the present case.
FACTS:
There is no doubt that the Sandiganbayan's judgment in Criminal Case No. 27776 is a matter
of public record and is already final. Atty. Catalan supported his allegation by submitting Gilbert filed a case for disbarment against Atty. Mariano. According to him, he referred the
documentary evidence of the Sandiganbayan's decision in Criminal Case No. 27776. Atty. case of Amable and Rosalinda in a case for partition of the estate of the late Benjamin Yap.
Silvosa himself admitted, against his interest, that he is under probation. They agreed that Gilbert would receive ten percent of the attorney’s fees that Mariano would
receive from the case, which agreement they reduced into writing. However, even after
b. Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground for disbarment. Moral turpitude Mariano received about P40 Million as attorney’s fees, the latter refused to pay, stating in a
is defined as an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man letter that the spouses will be the one to shoulder his commission after his attorney’s fees
owes to his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good was reduced from 20% to 17%. Despite demand, Mariano refused to pay, hence Gilbert filed
morals. the crime of direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude. the disbarment case against Mariano, further alleging that the latter was also guilty of
immorality for abandoning his legal wife Milagros, and her four children, and cohabiting with
c. Atty. Silvosa's representation of conflicting interests and his failed attempt at bribing Pros. Mae Flor. He also accused him of engaging in money-lending operation without the required
Toribio merit at least the penalty of suspension. Atty. Silvosa's final conviction of the crime of authority from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
direct bribery clearly falls under one of the grounds for disbarment under Section 27 of Rule
138. In his defense, he averred that he accepted the case of the spouses on a contingency basis
and advance all the expenses. The letter according to him was a forgery, and it was the
Moral turpitude can be inferred from the third element. The fact that the offender agrees to spouses who promised to assume the payment of Gilbert’s commission.
accept a promise or gift and deliberately commits an unjust act or refrains from performing an
official duty in exchange for some favors, denotes a malicious intent on the part of the offender The IBP recommended that Mariano be suspended for one year from the practice of law.
to renege on the duties which he owes his fellowmen and society in general. Also, the fact
that the offender takes advantage of his office and position is a betrayal of the trust reposed ISSUE: Whether dividing commission with a non-lawyer is proper.
on him by the public. It is a conduct clearly contrary to the accepted rules of right and duty,
HELD: No. In the present case, respondent’s defense that forgery had attended the execution
justice, honesty and good morals. In all respects, direct bribery is a crime involving moral
of the August 11, 1995 letter was belied by his July 16, 1997 letter admitting having
turpitude. (Italicization in the original)
undertaken the payment of complainant’s commission but passing on the responsibility to
Atty. Silvosa’s representation of conflicting interests and his failed attempt at bribing Pros. Sps. Yap. Clearly, respondent has violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code which prohibits a
Toribio merit at least the penalty of suspension. Atty. Silvosa’s final conviction of the crime of
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 9

lawyer from dividing or stipulating to divide a fee for legal services with persons not licensed Atty. Lozada explained that she was forced by circumstances and her desire to defend the
to practice law, except in certain cases which do not obtain in the case at bar. rights of her husband who is embroiled in a legal dispute. She claimed that she believed in
good faith that her appearance as wife of Edilberto Lozada is not within the prohibition to
Furthermore, respondent did not deny the accusation that he abandoned his legal family to practice law, considering that she is defending her husband and not a client. She insisted that
cohabit with his mistress with whom he begot four children notwithstanding that his moral her husband is a victim of grave injustice, and his reputation and honor are at stake; thus, she
character as well as his moral fitness to be retained in the Roll of Attorneys has been assailed. has no choice but to give him legal assistance.
The settled rule is that betrayal of the marital vow of fidelity or sexual relations outside
marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the ISSUE: WHETHER ATTY. LOZADA VIOLATED SEC 27, RULE 138 OF THE RULES OF
sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our COURT.
laws. Consequently, The Court found no reason to disturb the IBP’s finding that respondent
violated the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code which proscribes a lawyer HELD: YES. Atty. Lozada's guilt is undisputed. Based on the records, there is no doubt that
from engaging in “unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” Atty. Lozada's actuations, that is, in appearing and signing as counsel for and in behalf of her
husband, conducting or offering stipulation/admission of facts, conducting direct and cross-
However, The Court found the charge of engaging in illegal money lending not to have been examination, all constitute practice of law. Furthermore, the findings of the IBP would disclose
sufficiently established. A “business” requires some form of investment and a sufficient that such actuations of Atty. Lozada of actively engaging in the practice of law in June-July
number of customers to whom its output can be sold at profit on a consistent basis. The 2007 were done within the period of her two (2)-year suspension considering that she was
lending of money to a single person without showing that such service is made available to suspended from the practice of law by this Court in May 4, 2006. Atty. Lozada's defense of
other persons on a consistent basis cannot be construed as indicia that respondent is good faith fails to convince. She knew very well that at the time she represented her husband,
engaged in the business of lending.” she is still serving her two (2)-year suspension order. Yet, she failed to inform the court about
it. Neither did she seek any clearance or clarification from the Court if she can represent her
DISPOSITIVE PORTION: ATTY. MARIANO R. PEFIANCO was found GUILTY of violation of husband.
the Lawyer’s Oath, Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule
9.02, Canon 9 of the same Code and SUSPENDED from the active practice of law ONE (1) Atty. Lozada would have deserved a harsher penalty, but this Court recognizes the fact that
YEAR. it is part of the Filipino culture that amid an adversity, families will always look out and extend
a helping hand to a family member, more so, in this case, to a spouse.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Atty. Carmelita S. Bautista-Lozada is found GUILTY of violating


APPEARING IN COURT DURING SUSPENSION Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, and is hereby SUSPENDED for a period of six
(6) months from the practice of law, with a WARNING that a repetition of the same or
ALVIN FELICIANO v. ATTY. CARMELITA BAUTISTA-LOZADA
similar offense will warrant a more severe penalty.
FACTS: This is a Petition for Disbarment filed by Alvin S. Feliciano (complainant) against
respondent Atty. Carmelita Bautista-Lozada (Atty. Lozada) for violation of Section 27, Rule
138 of the Rules of Court. ISSUANCE OF BOUNCING CHECKS
In a previous resolution (AC No. 6656 “Frias vs Atty. Lozada) promulgated by Court en banc TERESITA B. ENRIQUEZ v. ATTY. TRINA DE VERA
it suspended Atty. Lozada for violation of Rules 15.03 and 16.04 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. (Canons: 1, 1.01; 7, 7.03)

Complainant lamented that Atty. Lozada appeared as counsel for the plaintiff and her Whether Atty. Trina De Vera committed serious misconduct and should be held administrative
husband, Edilberto Lozada, and actively participated in the proceedings of the case before liable for the issuance and dishonor of several post-dated checks.
Branch 75 of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela City despite her suspension. To prove
his allegation, complainant submitted certified true copies of the minutes of the hearings FACTS: The complainant Teresita, a businesswoman involved in building cell site towers.
wherein Atty. Lozada signed her name as one of the counsels, as well as the transcript of She is acquainted with Atty. De Vera through business by subcontracting the cell site
stenographic notes showing that Atty. Lozada conducted direct examination and cross- acquisition to Atty. De Vera. In April 2006, Atty De Vera borrowed P500,000.00 from Teresita
examination of the witnesses during the trial proceedings. with interest of 20,000.00 per month. Atty. De Vera issued post-dated check for P500,000.00
and also issued to more checks to cover the interest. Atty. De Vera obtained another loan
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 10

from Teresita’s sister in the amount of P100,000.00. Atty. De vera issued another post-dated penalized by B.P. Blg. 22. We consider that issuance of checks in violation of the provisions
check inconsideration thereof. Upon maturity of the checks Teresita present the checks for of B.P. Blg. 22 constitutes serious misconduct on the part of a member of the Bar.
payment. However, the checks bounced for being drawn against insufficient funds. She
attempted to encash the checks but the checks were dishonored because the account was Misconduct involves "wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment"; it is
closed. Teresita demanded payment from Atty. De Vera however she failed to settle her serious or gross when it is flagrant.
obligations, prompting Teresita to file complaints against Atty. DV for violation of BP 22 and
Membership in the bar requires a high degree of fidelity to the laws whether in a private or
estafa under Art. 315 (2) of the RPC.
professional capacity. "Any transgression of this duty on his part would not only diminish his
Contention of the accused: Atty. DV tries to free herself from liability by arguing that she did reputation as a lawyer but would also erode the public's faith in the Legal Profession as a
not incur the loans alleged by Teresita, and the checks were issued merely as a guarantee whole."56 A lawyer "may be removed or otherwise disciplined 'not only for malpractice and
and not as payment for the loan. She also raises the prematurity of the administrative dishonesty in his profession, but also for gross misconduct not connected with his
complaint in view of the pendency of the criminal proceedings. professional duties, which showed him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges
which his license and the law confer to him.'"
ISSUE: Whether Atty. De Vera committed serious misconduct and should be held
administratively liable for the issuance and dishonor of worthless checks in violation of the BP 22 has been enacted in order to safeguard the interest of the banking system and the
Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility. legitimate public checking account users. The gravamen of the offense is that act of making
and issuing worthless check, or any check that is dishonored upon its presentment for
HELD: Yes. This court has ruled that the Lawyer’s act of issuing worthless checks, punishable payment and putting in circulation. Being a lawyer respondent was well aware of the
under BP 22 constitutes serious misconduct. The Supreme court cited the case De Jesus v. objectives and coverage of BP 22. If he did not, he was nonetheless presumed to know them,
Callado wherein it states that We do not, believe that conviction of the criminal charges raised for the law is penal in character and application. His issuance of unfunded check exhibited
against her is essential, so far as either administrative or civl service case or the disbarment his indifference towards the pernicious effect of his illegal act to public interest and public
charges against her is concerned. We consider that the issuance of checks in violation of the order. He thereby swept aside his lawyer’s oath and enjoined them to support the constitution
provisions of BP 22 constitutes serious misconduct on the part of the member of the Bar. and obey the laws.

Misconduct involves “wrongful intention and not mere error of judgment”; it is serious A lawyer is required to observe the law and be mindful of his or her actions whether acting in
or gross when it is flagrant. a public or private capacity. The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

Atty. De Vera tries to free herself from liability by arguing that she did not incur the loans CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS
alleged by Teresita, and the checks were issued merely as a guaranty and not as payment OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.
for the loan. She also raises the prematurity of the administrative complaint in view of the
pendency of the criminal proceedings considering that "the allegations of deceitful conduct Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
[are] intimately intertwined with the criminal acts complained of." conduct.

This is not a case of first impression. This court has ruled that the lawyer’s act of issuing CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY- AND
worthless checks, punishable under Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, constitutes serious DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
misconduct. INTEGRATED BAR.

In De Jesus v. Collado, this court found respondent lawyer guilty of serious misconduct for Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness
issuing post-dated checks that were dishonored upon presentment for payment: to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner
to the discredit of the legal profession.
In the case at bar, no conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 has as yet been obtained against
respondent Collado. We do not, however, believe that conviction of the criminal charges DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Atty. Trina De Vera is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
raised against her is essential, so far as either the administrative or civil service case or the one (1) year.
disbarment charge against her is concerned. Since she had admitted issuing the checks when
she did not have enough money in her bank account to cover the total amount thereof, it
cannot be gainsaid that the acts with which she was charged would constitute a crime
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 11

COURTESY TO FELLOW LAWYER Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive,
offensive or otherwise improper.
MAXIMINO NOBLE III v. ATTY. ORLANDO O. AILES
Rule 8.02 - A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, encroach upon the professional
This instant administrative case arose from a verified Complaint 1 for disbarment dated April
employment of another lawyer; however, it is the right of any lawyer, without fear or favor, to
16, 2012 filed by complainant Maximino Noble III (Maximino) against respondent Atty.
give proper advice and assistance to those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful
Orlando O. Ailes (Orlando) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
counsel.
Atty. Orlando O. Ailes filed an action for damages against his brother Marcelo O. Ailes, Jr.
Though a lawyer's language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and
(Marcelo) who filed a separate case of Grave Threat and Estafa against the respondent.
respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of intemperate language and
Maximino was the counsel of Marcelo who represented him in his civil case (Action for
unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of the judicial forum. IBP found that the text
Damages). When Maximino was furnished a copy of the complaint, he discovered that,
message between Marcelo and Orlando is only a casual communication considering that they
through text messages, Orlando had been maligning him and dissuading Marcelo from
were conveyed privately, however to the Court the tenor of text messages should not taken
retaining his services as counsel, claiming that he was incompetent and that he charged
for granted and that the intention of it were clearly to malign and annoy Maximino, as evident
exorbitant fees, saying, among others: “Better dismiss your hi-track lawyer who will
from the use of the word "polpol" (stupid). Likewise, Orlando's insistence that Marcelo
impoverish you with his unconscionable professional fee. Max Noble, as shown in
immediately terminate the services of Maximino indicates Orlando's offensive conduct against
court records, never appeared even once, that's why you lost in the pre-trial stage, x x
his colleague, in violation of the above-quoted rules.
x get rid of Noble as your lawyer. He is out to squeeze a lot of money from you, x x x
daig mo nga mismong abogado mong polpol." Records show that Orlando even prepared Moreover, Orlando's voluntary plea of guilty to the crime of unjust vexation in the criminal
a Notice to Terminate Services of Counsel7 in the complaint for damages, which stated that case filed against him by Marcelo was, for all intents and purposes, an admission that he
Maximino "x x x has never done anything to protect the interests of the defendants in a manner spoke ill, insulted, and disrespected Maximino - a departure from the judicial decorum which
not befitting his representation as a seasoned law practitioner and, aside from charging exposes the lawyer to administrative liability. The Court has consistently reminded the
enormous amount of professional fees and questionable expenses, said counsel's contracted members of the bar to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial
services reached as far only in preparing and filing uncalled for motions to dismiss x x x" as to the honor and reputation of a party. Considering the circumstances, it is glaringly clear how
well as a Compromise Agreement, both of which he sent to Marcelo for his signature. Orlando transgressed the CPR when he maligned Maximino to his client.
Affronted, Maximino filed the instant complaint charging Orlando with violation of Rule 7.03
of Canon 7, the entire Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) and prayed DISPOSITIVE PORTION: Atty. Orlando O. Ailes GUILTY of violating Rule 7.03 of Canon 7
for the disbarment of respondent as well as the award of damages. Meanwhile, criminal as well as the entire Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby
charges against the respondent were downgraded to unjust vexation and the latter pleaded ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in dealing with his professional colleagues and
guilty. STERNLY WARNED that a commission of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt
with more severely.
ISSUE:

Whether respondent is found guilty of violating Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 and the entire Canon 8
of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION

RULING: Yes. Respondent is guilty. REGALA VS SANDIGANBAYAN

Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 as well as Canon 8 of the CPR provides: FACTS:

Rule 7.03 — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to The Republic of the Philippines filed a complaint with the Sandiganbayan through the
practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against Eduardo Cojuangco for the
to the discredit of the legal profession. recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth which includes shares of stocks in the named
corporations in PCGG Case No. 33. However, such complaint included the partner-lawyers
Canon 8 — A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his of ACCRA Law Office who performed legal services for Cojuangco. The complaint stated that
professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. such lawyers performed services for Mr. Cojuangco including the delivery of its client’s
PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (2017-2018) 12

documents which substantiate Cojuangco’s equity holdings such as Stock Certificates and a
blank deed of trust or assignment covering said shares.

One of the lawyers was Atty. Roco whom the PCGG shall grant exclusion to the complaint in
return for the information on who their client is. The other lawyers who were included in the
complaint contended that they should also be granted such exclusion since all of them are in
the same footing as lawyers and that such information about their clients can not and should
not be divulged on the ground of confidentiality of information in a lawyer-client relationship.

The Sandiganbayan ruled in favour of the PCGG.

ISSUE: Whether the information sought was privileged communication by virtue of lawyer-
client relationship

HELD: YES. It is quite apparent that petitioners were imploded by the PCGG as co-
defendants to force them to disclose the identity of their clients. Clearly, respondent PCGG is
not after petitioners but the “bigger fish”. The ploy is quite clear from the PCGG’s willingness
to cut a deal with petitioners - the names of their clients in exchange for exclusion from the
complaint. Petitioners are being prosecuted solely on the basis of activities and services
performed in the course of their duties as lawyers.

In the creation of lawyer-client relationship, there are rules, ethical conduct and duties that
breathe life into it, among those, the fiduciary duty to his client which is of a very delicate,
exacting and confidential character, requiring a very high degree of fidelity and good faith,
that is required by reason of necessity and public interest.

Canon 17. A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be mindful of the trust
and confidence reposed in him. It necessarily follows that in order to attain effective
representation, the lawyer must invoke the privilege not as a matter of option but as a matter
of duty and professional responsibility. – in the case at bar, the lawyer’s refusal to reveal the
sough information was valid.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION: ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.