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CRIMINAL, CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LIABILITIES OF A

LAWYER
By: Justice Jose L. Sabio , Jr.
LEGAL ETHICS
That branch of moral science which treats of the duties which a lawyer
owes to the courts ,to his clients, to his colleagues in the profession and to
the public.(according to CALCOLM)
FOUR-FOLD DUTIES OF A LAWYER
1.To the courts
2.T o his clients
3.T o his colleagues in the profession
4.To the public
BREACH OF DUTIES OF AN ATTORNEY
I. TO THE COURT
a. As an officer of the court
b.Obstracting the administration of justice
c.Misleading the court
d.Preferring false charges
e.Introducing false evidence
f.Willfully disobeying court orders
g.Using vicious or disrespectful language
h.Continuing to practice after suspension
II. TO THE CLIENT
In general, he owes his client the duty of entire devotion to his
genuine interest,
Undivided allegiance, loyalty, fidelity and absolute integrity.
a. Negligence in the performance of his duties
b.Employment of unlawful means
c. Deciet or mispresentation
d. Representing adverse interest
e.Revealing clients secrets
f. Purchasing clients property in litigation
g.Failing to account or misappropriate clients funds/property
h. Collecting unreasonable fees
i. Acting without authority
j. Willfully appearing without being retained
III. TO HIS COLLEAGUES IN THE PROFESSION

A lawyer is expected to live to the standards of the legal profession.


a. Defaming a fellow lawyer
b. Encroaching upon the business of another
c. Sociting business
d. Advertising
e. Cooperating in the illegal practice of law
f. Non-payment of IBP dues
IV. TO THE PUBLIC
a. Non-professional conduct
b. Gross immorality one that is so corrupt and false as to constitute a
criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high
degree
c. Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude
d. Promoting to violate or violating penal laws
e. Misconduct in the discharge of official duties
f. Comission of fraud or falsehood
g. Misconduct as a notary public

LIABILITIES OF AN ATTORNEY
1.CRIMINAL LIABILITIES
Art. 209 (RPC)- In addition to the proper administrative
action, the penalty of prison correccional in its minimum period
or a fine ranging from 200 to 1,000 pesos, or both, shall be
imposed upon an attorney at law or solivitor who, by any
malicious breach of professional duty or inexcusable negligence
or ignorance ,shall prejudice his client or reveal any of the secrets
of the latter learned by him in his professional capacity.
The same penalty shall be imposed upon an attorney at law or
solicitor , who, having undertaken the defense of a client, or
having received confidential information from said client in a case
, shall undertake the defense of the opposing party in the same
case, without the consent of his first client.

ACTS PENALIZED:
A. Causing prejudice to client through malicious breach of
professional duty or through inexcausable negligence.

B. Revealing a clients secret learned in the lawyers


professional duty or through inexcausable negligence or
ignorance.
MEANING:
MALICIOUS- implies deliberate or sinister design on the
part of the
Lawyer.
INEXCAUSABLE- signifies a manifest injustice which
cannot be
Explained by a reasonable
interpretation.
C. Representing adverse interest- It must be without the
consent of the first client.
D.Introducing false e vidence (Art. 172, RPC)
1.Knowingly
2.Without prior knowledge of its falsity
E. Misappropriating clients funds
1. Liable for estafa
LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES
1. Degree of care required- To exert that degree of care
and vigilance expected of a good father of a family or
such degree of care and ordinary diligence as any
member of the Bar similarly situated is expected to
exercise.
2. It is only when he fails,by design or gross omission , to
live up to that standard of care and diligence that he may
be held civilly liable therefor.
CIVIL LIABILITY TO CLIENT
REQUISITES:
1. Attorney-client relationship
2. Want of reasonable care and diligence (gross and
patent)
3. Injury sustained by the client as the proximate result.
LIABILITY FOR BREACH OF FIDUCIARY OBLIGATIONS
1. A lawyer hold his clients funds or property in trust for
the client.
2. He must make an accounting of such funds.

His failure to return the clients money or property


after demand gives rise to the presumption that he has
misappropriated the same to his personal benefit and
makes him civilly liable, apart from his criminal or
administrative responsibility arising thereform.
3. He cannot purchase a clients property involved in
litigation in which he is counse.
LIBELOUS WORDS IN PLEADINGS
As a rule, lawyers are exempted from liability for as long
as the statements are:
a. connected
b. relevant
c. pertinent
d. material
to the cause in hand or the subject of inquiry.
If the pleader goes beyond the requirements of the
statute and alleges an irrelevant matter which is libelous,
he loses his privilege.
IV. LIABILITY FOR COSTS OF SUIT
Where a lawyer insisted on the clients patently
unmeritorious case or interposed an appeal merely to
delay litigation or thwart the prompt satisfaction of the
prevailing partys just and valid claim, the court may
adjudge the lawyer liable to pay treble the coast of the
suit.
V. CONTEMPT OF COURT
Contempt proceedings are criminal in nature even if
the acts complained of are incidents of civil actions. Thus,
as far as practicable, the rules of procedure and rules of
evidence in criminal prosecution are adopted.
KINDS OF CONTEMPT:
a. direct
b. indicrect or constructive
c. CIVIL: the failure to do something ordered by the court
which is for the benefit of a party.

d. CRIMINAL: consists of conduct directed against the


authority or dignity of the court.
In direct contempt, no formal charge is necessary
and the proceeding is summary in nature.
A punishment in direct contempt is not appealable
and may be reviewed only on a Petition for Certiorari.
ACTS CONSTITUTING CONTEMPT (refer to other handout)
EFFECT OF LACK OF INTENT
Whether or not an act constitutes contempt depends on its nature and
not on the presence of offensive intent.
However, the absence of such intent or expressing apology may
be considered mitigating, unless the apology appears to be insincere, sham
or artful.
PUNISHMENT:
A.
Fine
B.
Imprisonment
C.
Both
D. In appropriate cases, after due notice why no disciplinary action be
taken, and opportunity to be hears, suspended from the practice of law.

DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS
( nature/ who can institute?/ where to file and what actions may be
taken -- refer to other handout of disbarment proceedings)
DESISTANCE: EFFECT (Rayos-Ombac vs. Rayos [A.C. No. 2884. January 28,
1998]
PRESUMPTION/ BURDEN OF PROOF
Nakpil Vs. Valdez 268 SCRA 758
No presumption of innocence or improbability or wrongdoing is considered in an
attorneys favor. That is in keeping with the nature of disciplinary proceedings to look
into the moral fitness of an attorney.
SANCTIONS:
1. Warning
2. Admonition
3. Reprimand/censure
4. Fine
5. Suspension
6. Disbarment
7. It may also require restitution of the clients money as part of the penalty.
A. MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES
1. Good faith
2. Want of intention to commit a wrong
3. Lack of material damage to the complaining witness
4. Desistance of complainant
5. Youth and inexperience in the bar
6. Error in judgement
7. Honest and inefficient service in various government positions

8. Being first offender


9. Readily admitting and regrets and apologizes
10. Clean record of professional service in the past
11. Rendered previously legal services out of the pure generosity
12. Old age and long membership in the bar
B. AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES
1. Abuse of authority or of attorney-client relationship
2. Making a mockery out of marriage institution in cases of gross immorality
3. Having sexual intercourse with lawyers relative
4. Previous discipline
5. the party defrauded by lawyer is the government
6. Breach of confidentiality and using it against the previous client
EXECUTIVE PARDON:
An absolute pardon by the President is one that operates to wipe out the
conviction as well as the offense itself, and the grant thereof in favor of a lawyer is a bar
to a proceeding for disbarment against him based solely on the commission of such
offense.
The suspended lawyer may, moreover, be disbarred for violation of the
suspension order.
But the lawyer may appear as counsel for himself, the same not being practice of
law but the exercise of the right, enjoyed by any person, to defend or prosecute his
cause.
EFFECT OF DISBARMENT or SUSPENSION OF A FILIPINO LAWYER IN A FOREIGN
COUNTY
If the ground therefore includes any of the acts enumerated in Section 27 Rule
138 of the Revised Rules of Court, such disbarment or suspension is a ground for his
disbarment or suspension in the Philippines.
The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall
be prima facie evidence of the ground for suspension or disbarment.

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