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A.C. No. 6733 Octo!" #$% &$#&'' CANON #(
Herminia Voluntad-Ramirez (complainant) alleged that on 25 November
2002, she engaged the legal services of Atty. Rosario B. Bautista
(respondent) to fle a complaint against complainants siblings for
encroachment of her right of way. For his legal services, respondent
demanded P 5,000 as acceptance fee, pl!s P ,000 per co!rt appearance.
"omplainant then paid respondent the P 5,000 acceptance fee. #n 2$ %ay
200&, complainant severed the legal services of respondent beca!se
respondent failed to fle a complaint within a reasonable period of time as
re'!ested by complainant. "omplainant then retrieved from respondent the
folder containing the doc!ments and letters pertaining to her case which
complainant had entr!sted to respondent. "omplainant claimed that she was
dissatisfed with the way respondent handled her complaint considering that
d!ring the si( months that elapsed, respondent only sent a letter to the "ity
)ngineers #*ce in Navotas "ity concerning her complaint. #n + %arch 200,,
complainant sent a letter to respondent, reiterating that she was terminating
the services of respondent and that she was as-ing for the ref!nd of P ,,000
o!t of the P 5,000 acceptance fee. "omplainant stated in her letter that d!e
to respondents .fail!re to instit!te the desired complaint on time. against
complainants brothers and sisters, complainant was compelled to hire the
services of another co!nsel to fle the complaint. /espondent failed to ref!nd
the P ,,000, prompting complainant to fle on 0 %ay 2005 her complaint
dated 2$ %arch 2005 with the #*ce of the 0ar "onfdant of the 1!preme
"o!rt. "omplainant charged respondent with violation of "anon +, /!le
+.02, and /!le 22.02 of the "ode of Professional /esponsibility, violation of
the lawyers oath, grave miscond!ct, and cond!ct pre2!dicial to the best
interest of the p!blic.
RESPONDENT+S CONTENTION* respondent alleges that complainant
initially wanted him to fle an in2!nction case against her siblings b!t later
changed her mind when she was apprised of the e(penses involved.
/espondent then advised complainant that since her case involves family
members, earnest e3orts toward a compromise sho!ld be made in
accordance with 4rticle 222 of the "ivil "ode and that since the parties reside
in the same barangay, the case m!st be referred to the barangay in
accordance with the 5ocal 6overnment "ode. 7he day after he was hired by
complainant, respondent wrote a letter to the "ity )ngineer of Navotas "ity
pertaining to complainants case.

8hen complainant vol!ntarily withdrew her
case from respondent on 2$ %ay 200&, complainant also retrieved the folder
containing the doc!ments relevant to her case. 9t was only after almost ten
months from severing respondents legal services that complainant sent a
letter dated + %arch 200, demanding the ref!nd of P ,,000 o!t of the P
5,000 acceptance fee. /espondent e(plains that the acceptance fee is non:
ref!ndable beca!se it covers the time and cost of research made
immediately before and after acceptance of the case. 7he acceptance fee
also pays for the o*ce s!pplies !sed for the case. Nevertheless, respondent
alleges that he did not ignore complainants re'!est for a ref!nd. /espondent
claims that he sent a letter dated ; %arch 200,, which stated that altho!gh
it is their law frms policy not to entertain re'!ests for ref!nd of acceptance
fee, they were willing to grant her a ffty percent <50=> disco!nt and for
complainant to contact them for her ref!nd.

9n fact, respondent stated that he
sent te(t messages to complainants lawyer, 4tty. 0artolome, signifying
respondents willingness to ref!nd the amo!nt of P $,000.
COMPLAINANT+S CONTENTION* "omplainant stated that even before she
engaged respondents legal services, her case was already referred to the
barangay for conciliation proceedings. ?owever, complainants siblings failed
to appear which res!lted in the iss!ance on @!ly 2002 of a "ertifcation to
File 4ction by the #*ce of the Lupong Tagapamayapa. </espondent
co!ntered in his Position Paper that complainant did not inform him of the
e(istence of the alleged "ertifcation to File 4ction and that the said
certifcation was not part of the case folder which respondent t!rned over to
complainant when his services was severed.>
8hether or not respondent 4tty. 0a!tista is g!ilty of negligence in handling
the case of the complainant.
7he co!rt agreed with the fnding of the 9nvestigating "ommissioner that
respondent breached his d!ty to serve his client with competence and
diligence. /espondent is also g!ilty of violating /!le +.0& of the "ode of
Professional /esponsibility, which states that .a lawyer shall not neglect a
legal matter entr!sted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith
shall render him liable.. #nce a lawyer receives the acceptance fee for his
legal services, he is e(pected to serve his client with competence, and to
attend to his clients ca!se with diligence, care and devotion.
9n the case at bar, respondent attrib!tes his delay in fling the appropriate
criminal case to the absence of conciliation proceedings between
complainant and her siblings before the barangay as re'!ired !nder 4rticle
222 of the "ivil "ode and the 5ocal 6overnment "ode. ?owever, this e(c!se
is belied by the "ertifcation to File 4ction by the #*ce of the Lupong
Tagapamayapa. 7he "ertifcation to File 4ction was iss!ed on @!ly 2002,
which was more than fo!r months before complainant engaged respondents
legal services on 25 November 2002. /espondents allegation that
complainant failed to inform him abo!t the e(istence of the "ertifcation to
File 4ction is hard to believe considering complainants determination to fle
the case against her siblings. "learly, respondent has been negligent in
handling complainants case.
7he "o!rt fnds 4tty. /osario 0. 0a!tista ,UILTY of violating "anon + and
/!le +.0& of the "ode of Professional /esponsibility and he is ADMONISHED
to e(ercise greater care and diligence in the performance of his d!ty to his
clients. 4tty. 0a!tista is ordered to RESTITUTE to complainant P ,,000 o!t
of the P 5,000 acceptance fee.