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Legal Ethics Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C.
FACTS:On Sept. 4, 1959, the Chief of Police of Alaminos, Laguna, charged Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by
SImplicio Villanueva with crime of Malicious Mischiedf, before the Justice the Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991.
of the Peace Court of said Municipality. Said accused was represented by Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not
counsel de oficio, but later on replaced by counsel de parte. The possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of
complainant in the same case was representry by City Attorney Ariston law for at least ten years.
Fule of San Pablo City, having entered his appearance as private-
prosecutor, having secuting the permission of the the Secretary of Justice. On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the
Counsel for the accused presented a “Motion in inhibit Fiscal Fule from nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he
Acting as Private prosecutor in this case, “this time invoking sec. 32, Rule took his oath of office. On the same day, he assumed office as Chairman of
127, now sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules, which bars certain attorneys the COMELEC.
from practicing.
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on
Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer,
filed the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition praying that said
ISSUE: Whether of not Atty. Fule violate sec. 32 of Rule 127 now Sec.
confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of
35, Rule 138, revised Rules of Court, which bars certain attorneys from
the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.
Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the
bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He has been a dues
RULING:The Court holds that the appearance of Attorney Fule did not paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception
constitute private practice, within the meaning and contemplation of the in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer
Rules. Practice is more than isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent for more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo)
or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. The
word private practiceof law implies that one must have presented
himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession ISSUE:
and that his professional services are available to the public for WN Christian Monsod has engaged in the practice of law for at least 10
compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said years?
services. It has never been refuted that City Attorney Fule had been given
permission by his immediate supervisor, the Secretary of Justice, to HELD:
represent the complainant in the case at bar, who is a relative.

Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To
engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are
characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice
or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in
any degree of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)

Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term "Practice of

law". particularly the modern concept of law practice, and taking into
consideration the liberal construction intended by the framers of the
Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyer-economist,
a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator
of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor — verily
more than satisfy the constitutional requirement — that he has been W/n Herrera should have filed a petition for certiorari rather than a pleading
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. for annulment of judgment

W/n the attorney’s fees that Canlas charged Herrera was reasonable
Francisco Herrera executed a mortgage over his 8 parcels of land in favor of Judgments can only be annulled if there was a showing that there is extrinsic
L&R Corporation as a security for the several loans which he obtained from fraud. In the case at bar, extrinsic fraud was not proved. (Herrera contends
the financing institution. Upon his failure to pay, L&R extrajudicially that The judge in the trial court colluded with Canlas in order for him to sell
foreclosed the said lots. The lands were disposed of in a public auction and his land to Canlas.)
L&R was the highest bidder.
However, the Court was still unable to find merit in his petition/ The court
Pending redemption, with Atty. Canlas as his counsel, Herrera was able to cannot overlook the unseemlier side of the proceeding in which a member
obtain a preliminary injunction against L&R to prevent it from consolidating of the bar would exploit his mastery of procedural law to score a technical
the title in the corporation’s name. knowckout over his client, of all people.
Two years later, the parties entered into a compromise agreement where No.
L&R gave Herrera another year to redeem the foreclosed properties subject
to payment of P600,000. They also stipulated that Canlas shall be entitled Even Canlas himself admitted that his client lacks paying capacity and no
to attorney’s fees of 100k. The court approved the compromise. financing entity wanted to extend him a loan. This circumstance should have
tempered his demand for his fees.
However, Herrera, due to his financial difficulties, was still unable to pay
neither the several loans nor the attorney’s fees which he owed to Canlas. Lawyering is not a money-making venture and lawyers are not merchants.
Canlas moved for execution insofar as his fees were concerned which the Canlas’ claim of attorney’s fees in the sum of P100,000 was unreasonable.
court granted although he was not really able to collect the fees. The extent of the services he rendered in the case is not impressive to justify
payment of such amount. The case itself did not involve complex question
Subsequently, Canlas and Herrera met to discuss the relief for Herrera with fact or law that would have required substantial effort as to research or leg
respect to his liability to L&R on the one hand, and his obligation to Canlas work for the Canalas to support his demand. The fatc that the properties
on the other. Canlas contends that Herrera earnestly begged him to redeem subject thereof commanded quite handsome prices in the market should not
the properties. However, Herrera maintains that it was Canlas who offered be a measure of the importance or non-importance of the case. The
to advance the money provided that they executed a transfer of mortgage petitioner’s stature does not support such claim. The Court reduced the
over the properties in Canlas’ favor. (SC believes Herrera’s contention more) petitioner’s fees on a quantum merit basis, to P20,000.00
They executed a Deed of Sale and Transfer of Rights of Redemption and/or ***the contract is not void for it is not covered by the ban (remember
to Redeem, a document that enabled Canlas to redeem the parcels of land sales?) but it is voidable because Canlas exerted undue influence over
and to register the same in his name. Herrera only discovered that the said Herrera (moral ascendancy of the attorney.)
lawyer registered the lots under his name when he was about to secure a
loan from a bank to finance a wet market project. Herrera contends that the ***however, the property was already in the possession of an IPFV so
said document was falsified. The original document only transferred the Canlas was only held liable for actual damages. BUT…Herrera should still
rights of Herrera to redeem the property whereas the falsified document pay for the redemption price that Canlas paid plus attorney’s fees so this
stated that he was transferring all of his rights of the real properties. will be set-off against the damages that Canlas has to pay.

Herrera filed for an action for reconveyance of the said lots and a petition to
reform the said document to reflect the true agreement between him and

TC ruled in favor of Canlas. CA reversed.

IN RE: PETITION TO SIGN IN THE ROLL OF ATTORNEYS MICHAEL A. Not allowing Medado to sign in the Roll of Attorneys would be akin to
MEDADO, PETITIONER. (DIGEST) imposing upon him the ultimate penalty of disbarment, a penalty reserved
for the most serious ethical transgressions. In this case, said action is not
B.M. No. 2540 warranted.

September 24, 2013 The Court considered Medado’s demonstration of good faith in filing the
petition himself, albeit after the passage of more than 30 years; that he has
TOPIC: shown that he possesses the character required to be a member of the
Philippine Bar; and that he appears to have been a competent and able legal
Admission to the Bar, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Canon 9, Signing of the practitioner, having held various positions at different firms and companies.
Roll of Attorneys
However, Medado is not free from all liability for his years of inaction.
A mistake of law cannot be utilized as a lawful justification, because
Michael A. Medado passed the Philippine bar exams in 1979. On 7 May 1980, everyone is presumed to know the law and its consequences.
he took the Attorney’s Oath at the PICC. He was scheduled to sign in the
Roll of Attorneys on 13 May 1980, but failed to do so allegedly because he Medado may have at first operated under an honest mistake of fact when
had misplaced the Notice to Sign the Roll of Attorneys. Several years later, he thought that what he had signed at the PICC entrance before the oath-
while rummaging through his things, he found said Notice. He then realized taking was already the Roll of Attorneys. However, the moment he realized
that he had not signed in the roll, and that what he had signed at the that what he had signed was just an attendance record, he could no longer
entrance of the PICC was probably just an attendance record. claim an honest mistake of fact as a valid justification. At that point, he
should have known that he was not a full-fledged member of the Philippine
He thought that since he already took the oath, the signing of the Roll of Bar, as it was the act of signing therein that would have made him so. When,
Attorneys was not as important. The matter of signing in the Roll of in spite of this knowledge, he chose to continue practicing law, he willfully
Attorneys was subsequently forgotten. engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
In 2005, when Medado attended MCLE seminars, he was required to provide Knowingly engaging in unauthorized practice of law likewise transgresses
his roll number for his MCLE compliances to be credited. Not having signed Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. At the heart of Canon 9
in the Roll of Attorneys, he was unable to provide his roll number. is the lawyer’s duty to prevent the unauthorized practice of law. This duty
likewise applies to law students and Bar candidates. As aspiring members
About seven years later, in 2012, Medado filed the instant Petition, praying
of the Bar, they are bound to conduct themselves in accordance with the
that he be allowed to sign in the Roll of Attorneys. Medado justifies this lapse
ethical standards of the legal profession.
by characterizing his acts as “neither willful nor intentional but based on a
mistaken belief and an honest error of judgment. Medado cannot be suspended as he is not yet a full-fledged lawyer.
However, the Court imposed upon him a penalty akin to suspension by
The Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that the instant petition be
allowing him to sign in the Roll of Attorneys one (1) year after receipt of the
denied for petitioner’s gross negligence, gross misconduct and utter lack of
Resolution. He was also made to pay a fine of P32,000. Also, during the one-
merit, saying that petitioner could offer no valid justification for his
year period, petitioner was not allowed to engage in the practice of law.
negligence in signing in the Roll of Attorneys.


Whether or not petitioner may be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys.


Yes, the Supreme Court granted the petition subject to the payment of a
fine and the imposition of a penalty equivalent to suspension from the
practice of law.