You are on page 1of 27

legal ethics

A.C. No. 3523 January 17, 2005

RASMUS G. ANDERSON, JR., petitioner,

Administrative case against Atty. Reynaldo A. Cardeo for malpractice and

neglect of duty, stemming from his alleged neglect or deliberate mishandling
of a case.

Held: SUSPENDED (6) months and WARNED that any similar infraction in the
future will be dealt with more severely.

Thus, respondents defenses that the complainant was "uncooperative" as a

client, that the voluminous records turned over to him were in disarray, and
that the complainant did not disclose to him certain particulars of the case,
are all unavailing. Thus, in view of the fact that he remained counsel of record
for the complainant, it was highly irregular for him to entrust the filing of the
Motion for Reconsideration to other people who did not lawfully appear
interested in the subject litigation.

As a lawyer representing the cause of his client, he should have taken more
control over the handling of the case.

Respondent should know that as a lawyer, he owes fidelity to the cause of

his client. When a lawyer accepts a case, his acceptance is an implied
representation that he possesses the requisite academic learning, skill and
ability to handle the case. The lawyer has the duty to exert his best judgment
in the prosecution or defense of the case entrusted to him and to exercise
reasonable and ordinary care and diligence in the pursuit or defense of the

[A.M. No. 5925. March 11, 2003]


Complainant engaged the legal services of respondent for the latter to cause
the transfer under her name of the title over a property previously owned by
her sister. Complainant was able to pay respondent for legal fees.
Respondent failed. Complainant demanded that respondent refund to her the
legal fees and return the documents which she earlier entrusted to him.
However, respondent failed to comply with said demands.

Held: SUSPENDED for 1 year; repetition of violation will be dealt severely. PAY
the complainant.

Even if it were true that no attorney-client relationship existed between them,

case law has it that an attorney may be removed or otherwise disciplined not
only for malpractice and dishonesty in the profession but also for gross
misconduct not connected with his professional duties, making him unfit for
the office and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the law confer
upon him.

A lawyer is obliged to hold in trust money or property of his client that may
come to his possession. The conversion by a lawyer funds entrusted to him
by his client is a gross violation of professional ethics and a betrayal of public
confidence in the legal profession.

The relation of attorney and client is highly fiduciary in nature and is of a

very delicate, exacting and confidential character. A lawyer is duty-bound to
observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with
his clients. The profession, therefore, demands of an attorney an absolute
abdication of every personal advantage conflicting in any way, directly or
indirectly, with the interest of his client. In this case, respondent miserably
failed to measure up to the exacting standard expected of him.

[A.C. No. 4349. December 22, 1997]


Complainant charged respondent with having committed the crime of estafa

by misappropriating the sum of P32,000.00. Of this amount, P30,000.00 was
entrusted to respondent for deposit in the bank account of complainants
husband, while P2,000.00 represented the amount respondent demanded
from complainant supposedly for a bond in a Civil Case when no such bond
was required. Respondent did not appear in the administrative proceedings to
clear his name. Respondent was able to pay the amount, complainant
withdrew the estafa case but proceeded with the administrative case.

Held: DISBARRED. There is no doubt that respondent is guilty of having used

the money of his clients without their consent. Money collected by a lawyer in
pursuance of a judgment in favor of his clients is held in trust and must be
immediately turned over to them

Respondent, by converting the money of his clients to his own personal use
without their consent , and by deceiving the complainant into giving him the

amount of P2,000.00 purportedly to be used as a bond which was not

required, is, undoubtedly, guilty of deceit, malpractice and gross misconduct.
By so doing, he betrays the confidence reposed in him by his clients. Not only
has he degraded himself but as an unfaithful lawyer he has besmirched the
fair name of an honorable profession.

When an attorney unjustly retains in his hands money of his client after it
has been demanded he may be punished for contempt as an officer of the
Court who has misbehaved in his official transactions; but proceedings under
this section shall not be a bar to a criminal prosecution.

[A. C. No. 5485. March 16, 2005]

ELMER CANOY, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE MAX ORTIZ, respondent.

Canoy was among those low-income clients whom Atty. Ortiz deigned to
represent. He claims having prepared the position paper of Canoy, but before
he could submit the same, the Labor Arbiter had already issued the order
dismissing the case. Atty. Ortiz admits though that the period within which to
file the position paper had already lapsed. He attributes this failure to timely
file the position paper to the fact that after his election as Councilor because
he was too busy. Eventually, he withdrew from his other cases and his free
legal services. Complainant filed this complaint but later on withdrew .

Held: SUSPENDED: (1) month, with WARNING that a repetition of the same

negligence will be dealt with more severely.

Still, the severance of the relation of attorney-client is not effective until a

notice of discharge by the client or a manifestation clearly indicating that
purpose is filed with the court or tribunal, and a copy thereof served upon the
adverse party, and until then, the lawyer continues to be counsel in the case.

Assuming that Atty. Ortiz was justified in terminating his services, he,
however, cannot just do so and leave complainant in the cold unprotected.
Indeed, Rule 22.02 requires that a lawyer who withdraws or is discharged
shall, subject to a lien, immediately turn over all papers and property to
which the client is entitled, and shall cooperate with his successor in the
orderly transfer of the matter. Atty. Ortiz claims that the reason why he took
no further action on the case was that he was informed that Canoy had
acquired the services of another counsel. Assuming that were true, there was
no apparent coordination between Atty. Ortiz and this new counsel.

There are no good reasons that would justify a lawyer virtually abandoning
the cause of the client in the midst of litigation without even informing the
client of the fact or cause of desertion. That the lawyer forsook his legal
practice on account of what might be perceived as a higher calling, election
to public office, does not mitigate the dereliction of professional duty.
Suspension from the practice is the usual penalty, and there is no reason to
deviate from the norm in this case.

[A.C. No. 5817. May 27, 2004]

EMMA V. DE JUAN, complainant, vs. ATTY. OSCAR R. BARIA III, respondent.

Petitioner was terminated without notice or explanation so she filed a

complaint before the NLRC against the company for illegal dismissal. In
search of a lawyer, she asked the assistance of BBC which assigned
respondent to handle her labor case. On December 29, 1999, the Labor
Arbiter rendered a decision in favor of complainant. The Company appealed
to the NLRC. In a decision promulgated on September 24, 2001, the NLRC
reversed the Labor Arbiter and declared there was no illegal dismissal.

Complainant blamed respondent for the reversal. She said that she came to
know of the reversal of the Labor Arbiters decision when she called
respondent in October 2001. When she asked the respondent what they
should do, respondent answered, Paano iyan ihaehhindi ako marunong
gumawa ng Motion for Reconsideration.

Issue: The core issue is whether the respondent committed culpable

negligence, as would warrant disciplinary action, in failing to file for the
complainant a motion for reconsideration from the decision of the NLRC.

Held: FINED with WARNING that a repetition of the same will be dealt with

No lawyer is obliged to advocate for every person who may wish to become
his client, but once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer
owes fidelity to such cause and must be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him. Further, among the fundamental rules of ethics is the
principle that an attorney who undertakes an action impliedly stipulates to
carry it to its termination, that is, until the case becomes final and executory.
A lawyer is not at liberty to abandon his client and withdraw his services
without reasonable cause and only upon notice appropriate in the
circumstances. Any dereliction of duty by a counsel, affects the client. This
means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and
defense that is authorized by the law and he may expect his lawyer to assert
every such remedy or defense.

The records reveal that indeed the respondent did not file a motion for
reconsideration of the NLRC such that the said decision eventually had
become final and executory. Respondent does not refute this. His excuse that
he did not know how to file a motion for reconsideration is lame and
unacceptable. After complainant had expressed an interest to file a motion
for reconsideration, it was incumbent upon counsel to diligently return to his
books and re-familiarize himself with the procedural rules for a motion for
reconsideration. Filing a motion for reconsideration is not a complicated legal

We are however, not unaware that respondent had been forthright and
candid with his client when he warned her of his lack of experience as a new
lawyer. We are also not unaware that he had advised complainant to get a
new lawyer. However, his candor cannot absolve him. Without a proper
revocation of his authority and withdrawal as counsel, respondent remains
counsel of record and whether or not he has a valid cause to withdraw from
the case, he cannot just do so and leave his client out in the cold. An attorney
may only retire from the case either by a written consent of his client or by
permission of the court after due notice and hearing, in which event the
attorney should see to it that the name of the new attorney is recorded in the
case. Respondent did not comply with these obligations.

Negligence of lawyers in connection with legal matters entrusted to them for

handling shall render them liable.

A.C. No. 5162 March 20, 2003

ECTHA and respondent entered into a Retainers Agreement wherein
respondent lawyer agreed to handle the case of the complainant for
P20,000.00 as attorneys fees and P1,000.00 as appearance fee per hearing.
It was further agreed that respondent lawyer would update the complaint and
work on the development of the case.
Respondent failed to do such. Demands to give back the money were made
but to no avail, thus this administrative charge. Despite due notice,

respondent never attended the IBP administrative hearings.

Held: SUSPENDED for six (6) months, with WARNING that repetition of the
same will merit more severe penalty, and is ORDERED to RETURN to
complainant their money with interest.
A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY to the cause of his client mindful always of the
trust and confidence reposed in him. An attorney-at-law must serve his client
with competence and diligence at all times, and never neglect a legal matter
entrusted to him, for it is his sworn duty to delay no man for money or malice
and to conduct himself in a proper manner not just to his client, but also to
the court, the legal profession and society at large.
Respondents lamentable attitude towards his clients case is clearly evident
from his apparent disinterest in his own case for disbarment. Dioneda never
bothered to present evidence in his defense. He disregarded all notices sent
to him by the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, which were personally
served at his office address. He never appeared before the Commission
despite several opportunities to do so and explain his side.
The primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to
punish and discipline the erring individual lawyers but also to safeguard the
administration of justice by protecting the courts and the public from the
misconduct of lawyers, and to remove from the legal profession persons
whose utter disregard of their lawyer's oath has proven them unfit to
continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. A
lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for misconduct, whether in his
professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral
character, honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as
an officer of the court.

[A.C. No. 1526. January 31, 2005]

HERNANDEZ, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE C. GO, respondent.

Complainant engaged respondents services, she entrusted to him her land

titles and allowed him to sell her lots, believing that the proceeds thereof
would be used to pay her creditors. Respondent abused her trust and
confidence when he did not sell her properties to others but to himself and
spent his own money to pay her obligations. Obviously, had he sold the lots
to other buyers, complainant could have earned more. Records show that she
did not receive any amount from respondent.

Held: DISBARRED. A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of
his client that may come into his possession.

Such conduct on the part of respondent degrades not only himself but also
the name and honor of the legal profession. He violated this Courts mandate

that lawyers must at all times conduct themselves, especially in their dealing
with their clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a
manner beyond reproach.

A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of
the trust and confidence reposed in him.

Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. When it appears that an

attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of his clients and the
public, it becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court to
withdraw the privilege. Respondent, by his conduct, blemished not only his
integrity as a member of the Bar, but also the legal profession.

Public interest requires that an attorney should exert his best efforts and
ability to protect the interests of his clients. A lawyer who performs that duty
with diligence and candor not only protects his clients cause; he also serves
the ends of justice and does honor to the bar and helps maintain the respect
of the community to the legal profession.

G.R. No. L-961 September 21, 1949

JACOB ASSAD, respondents.

Petitioner alleged that she and the counsel for the defendant had an
attorney-client relationship with her when, before the trial of the case, she
went to defendants counsel, gave him the papers of the case and other
information relevant thereto, although she was not able to pay him legal fees.
That respondents law firm mailed to the plaintiff a written opinion over his
signature on the merits of her case; that this opinion was reached on the
basis of papers she had submitted at his office; that Mrs. Hilado's purpose in

submitting those papers was to secure Attorney Francisco's professional

services. Atty. Francisco appeared as counsel for defendant and plaintiff did
not object to it until (4) months after. Then, plaintiff moved to dismiss the
case between her and defendant.

Issue: Was there an attorney-client relationship between plaintiff and Atty.


Held: YES. In order to constitute the relation a professional one and not
merely one of principal and agent, the attorneys must be employed either to
give advice upon a legal point, to prosecute or defend an action in court of
justice, or to prepare and draft, in legal form such papers as deeds, bills,
contracts and the like.

To constitute professional employment it is not essential that the client should

have employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. It is not
necessary that any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for;
neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward undertake
the case about which the consultation was had. If a person, in respect to his
business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults with his attorney in his
professional capacity with the view to obtaining professional advice or
assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such
consultation, then the professional employment must be regarded as

An attorney is employed-that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as

a lawyer or counselor-when he is listening to his client's preliminary
statement of his case, or when he is giving advice thereon, just as truly as
when he is drawing his client's pleadings, or advocating his client's cause in
open court. An acceptance of the relation is implied on the part of the
attorney from his acting in behalf of his client in pursuance of a request by
the latter.

That only copies of pleadings already filed in court were furnished to Attorney
Agrava and that, this being so, no secret communication was transmitted to
him by the plaintiff, would not vary the situation even if we should discard
Mrs. Hilado's statement that other papers, personal and private in character,

were turned in by her. Precedents are at hand to support the doctrine that the
mere relation of attorney and client ought to preclude the attorney from
accepting the opposite party's retainer in the same litigation regardless of
what information was received by him from his first client.

An attorney, on terminating his employment, cannot thereafter act as counsel

against his client in the same general matter, even though, while acting for
his former client, he acquired no knowledge which could operate to his
client's disadvantage in the subsequent adverse employment
"A retaining fee is a preliminary fee given to an attorney or counsel to insure
and secure his future services, and induce him to act for the client. It is
intended to remunerate counsel for being deprived, by being retained by one
party, of the opportunity of rendering services to the other and of receiving
pay from him, and the payment of such fee, in the absence of an express
understanding to the contrary, is neither made nor received in payment of
the services contemplated; its payment has no relation to the obligation of
the client to pay his attorney for the services which he has retained him to

[A.C. No. 5804. July 1, 2003]


An SEC Case was filed by the PPSTA against its own Board of Directors.
Respondent admits that the ASSA Law Firm, of which he is the Managing
Partner, was the retained counsel of PPSTA. Yet, he appeared as counsel of
record for the respondent Board of Directors in the said case. Complainants
contend that respondent was guilty of conflict of interest because he was
engaged by the PPSTA, of which complainants were members, and was being
paid out of its corporate funds where complainants have contributed. Despite
being told by PPSTA members of the said conflict of interest, respondent
refused to withdraw his appearance in the said cases.

Held: GUILTY of representing conflicting interests and is ADMONISHED to

observe a higher degree of fidelity in the practice of his profession. WARNED

that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

RULE 15.03. A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by

written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.

In other jurisdictions, the prevailing rule is that a situation wherein a lawyer

represents both the corporation and its assailed directors unavoidably gives
rise to a conflict of interest. The interest of the corporate client is paramount
and should not be influenced by any interest of the individual corporate
officials. The rulings in these cases have persuasive effect upon us. After due
deliberation on the wisdom of this doctrine, we are sufficiently convinced that
a lawyer engaged as counsel for a corporation cannot represent members of
the same corporations board of directors in a derivative suit brought against
them. To do so would be tantamount to representing conflicting interests,
which is prohibited by the Code of Professional Responsibility.

A.C. No. 3283 July 13, 1995

RODOLFO MILLARE, petitioner,

Complainant obtained a favorable judgment from the MTC which ordered

respondents client to vacate the premises subject of the ejectment case.
respondent as counsel, appealed the decision. CA dismissed Co's appeal from
the decision of the RTC for failure to comply with the proper procedures.
Respondent thereafter resorted to devious and underhanded means to delay
the execution of the judgment rendered by the MTC adverse to his client.

Held: SUSPENDED for (1) year. Rule 12.02. A lawyer shall not file multiple
actions arising from the same cause. Rule 12.04. A lawyer shall not unduly
delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court processes.

Under Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is

required to represent his client "within the bounds of the law." The Code
enjoins a lawyer to employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful
objectives of his client (Rule 19.01) and warns him not to allow his client to
dictate the procedure in handling the case (Rule 19.03). In short, a lawyer is
not a gun for hire.

It is unethical for a lawyer to abuse or wrongfully use the judicial process, like
the filing of dilatory motions, repetitious litigation and frivolous appeals for
the sole purpose of frustrating and delaying the execution of a judgment.

A judgment can be annulled only on two grounds: (a) that the judgment is
void for want of jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law, or (b) that it has
been obtained by fraud.

Judging from the number of actions filed by respondent to forestall the

execution of the same judgment, respondent is also guilty of forum shopping.
Forum shopping exists when, by reason of an adverse decision in one forum,
defendant ventures to another for a more favorable resolution of his case.

[A.C. No. 5085. February 6, 2003]


Respondent failed to win the cause of his client. Failed to follow proper
procedure in submitting memorandums for client with feeble excuses.

Demanded unconscionable amount of legal fees considering the grinding

poverty his client.

Held: GUILTY of negligence in protecting the interest of his client. SUSPENDED

for (6) months.

Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides that

negligence of lawyers in connection with legal matters entrusted to them for
handling shall render them liable. It is a basic postulate in legal ethics that
when a lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants that he will exercise due
diligence in protecting his rights. The failure to exercise that degree of
vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a family makes such
lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed upon him by his client and makes him
answerable to him, to the courts and to society.

By neglecting to file the memorandum/brief, respondent set off a chain of

events which eventually ended in the demolition of complainants home.

Respondents failure to exercise due diligence in attending to the interest of

complainant caused the latter material prejudice. As a lawyer, respondent
was wanting in the exercise of reasonable care demanded of every member
of the Bar; his measure of diligence is several notches below the standard
required of his office.

[A.C. No. 4219. December 8, 2003]

LOTHAR SCHULZ, complainant, vs. ATTY. MARCELO G. FLORES, respondent.

Atty. Flores knew too little of the provisions and application of PD No. 1508
which mandates that all disputes, except those specifically cited (the dispute
between Lothar Schulz and Wilson Ong not included), between and among
residents of the same city or municipality should be brought first under the
system of barangay conciliation before recourse to the court can be allowed.
Because of respondents transgressions, his client was haled to court as partdefendant. Respondent also refused to return petitioners money in spite of
his meager service.

Held: GUILTY of negligence and incompetence. SUSPENDED for (6) months.

RETURN the money of complainant with interest. STERNLY WARNED that a
commission of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more

The breach of respondents sworn duty as a lawyer and of the ethical

standards he was strictly to honor and observe has been sufficiently
established. Respondent has fallen short of the competence and diligence
required of every member of the Bar.



Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and
his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Respondent erred in not returning complainants money despite demands

after his failure to file the case and his devious act of compelling complainant
to sign a document stating that he has no financial obligation to complainant
in exchange of the return of complainants papers. This conduct violated the

following Canon:



Rule 16.03. A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of client when due
or upon demand.

The failure of an attorney to return the clients money upon demand gives
rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to the
prejudice and violation of the trust reposed in him by the client. It is not only
a gross violation of the general morality as well as of professional ethics; it
also impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves
punishment. In short, it is settled that the unjustified withholding of money
belonging to his client, as in this case, warrants the imposition of disciplinary

A lawyer must conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients, with
integrity in a manner that is beyond reproach. His relationship with his clients
should be characterized by the highest degree of good faith and fairness.

Regala vs. Sandiganbayan

PCGG want to build up their case against Eduardo Coujuanco for the
anomalies in the COCO LEVY FUNDS. PCGG wants petitioners divulge that
Cojuangco indeed was a client of their firm, as well as other information
regarding Cojuangco.

Issue: Can the PCGG compel petitioners to divulge its clients name?

Held: NO.

As a matter of public policy, a clients identity should not be shrouded in

mystery. The general is that a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse
to divulge the name or identity of his client.

1) the court has a right to know that the client whose privileged information is
sought to be protected is flesh and blood.
2) the privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-client relationship has
been established. The attorney-client privilege does not attach until there is a
3) the privilege generally pertains to the subject matter of the relationship.

Finally, due process considerations require that the opposing party should, as
a general rule, know his adversary. A party suing or sued is entitled to know
who his opponent is. He cannot be obliged to grope in the dark against
unknown forces.

1) Client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing
the clients name would implicate that client in the very activity for which he
sought the lawyers advice.
2) Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability, his identity is
3) Where the governments lawyers have no case against an attorneys client
unless, by revealing the clients name, the said name would furnish the only
link that would form the chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual
of a crime, the clients name is privileged.
That client identity is privileged in those instances where a strong probability
exists that the disclosure of the client's identity would implicate the client in
the very criminal activity for which the lawyers legal advice was obtained.