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JUDGESLAWYERS
fiduciaryrelationshipbetweenlawyersandclients

RegalavSandiganbayanGR.No.1059389.20.96

F:Corporationclientsofpetitionerconsultedthemregardingcorporatestructureandfinancialmattersuponwhich
legaladviceweregivenbypetitioners.SaidcorporationissubjecttoinvestigationbythePCGGinvolvingillgotten
wealth.Petitionerrefusestoprovideinformationonfearthatitmayimplicatethemintheveryactivityfromwhich
legaladvicewassoughtfromthemanditmaybreachthefiduciaryrelationshipofthepetitionerwiththeirclient.

I:WONfiduciarydutymaybeassertedbypetitioneronrefusaltodisclosenamesoftheirclients(privilege
information)

R:SCupheldtherightofpetitionerstorefusedisclosureofnamesoftheirclientsunderthepainofbreachof
fiduciaryrelationshipwiththeirclient.

Asageneralrule,alawyerMAYNOTINVOKETHEPRIVILEGEBECAUSE:

1. Thecourthastherighttoknowthattheclientwhoseprivilegeissoughttobeprotectedisfleshandblood.
2. Privilegebeginstoexistonlyaftertheattyclientrelationshiphasbeenestablished.
3. Privilegegenerallypertainstobethesubjectmatteroftherelationship.
4. Withdueprocessconsideration,theopposingpartyshouldknowhisadversary.

EXCEPTION:LAWYERSMAYINVOKETHEPRIVILEGEWHEN:

1. Strongprobabilityexiststhatrevealingtheclientsnamewouldimplicatetheclientintheveryactivityfor
whichhesoughtthelawyersadvice.
2. Disclosurewouldopentocivilliabilityofclient.(presentinthiscase)
3. Governmentlawyershavenocaseagainstthelawyersclientunlessbyrevealingtheclientsnameitwould
providethemtheonlylinkthatwouldformthechainoftestimonynecessarytoconvictanindividualofa
crime.(presentinthiscase)
4. Relevanttothesubjectmatterofthelegalproblemonwhichclientseekslegalassistance.(presentinthis
case)

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5. Natureofattyclientrelationshiphasbeenpreviouslydisclosedanditistheidentitywhichisintendedtobe
confidential.

OldCodeofCivilProcedureenactedbythePhilippineCommissiononAugust7,1901:Section383oftheCode
specifically"forbidscounsel,withoutauthorityofhisclienttorevealanycommunicationmadebytheclienttohim
orhisadvicegiventhereoninthecourseofprofessionalemployment."28Passedonintovariousprovisionsofthe
RulesofCourt,theattorneyclientprivilege,ascurrentlywordedprovides:Sec.24.Disqualificationbyreasonof
privilegedcommunication.Thefollowingpersonscannottestifyastomatterslearnedinconfidenceinthe
followingcases:Anattorneycannot,withouttheconsentofhisclient,beexaminedastoanycommunicationmade
bytheclienttohim,orhisadvicegiventhereoninthecourseof,orwithaviewto,professionalemployment,can
anattorney'ssecretary,stenographer,orclerkbeexamined,withouttheconsentoftheclientandhisemployer,
concerninganyfacttheknowledgeofwhichhasbeenacquiredinsuchcapacity.29Further,Rule138oftheRules
ofCourtstates:Sec.20.Itisthedutyofanattorney:(e)tomaintaininviolatetheconfidence,andateveryperilto
himself,topreservethesecretsofhisclient,andtoacceptnocompensationinconnectionwithhisclient's
businessexceptfromhimorwithhisknowledgeandapproval.ThisdutyisexplicitlymandatedinCanon17ofthe
CodeofProfessionalResponsibilitywhichprovidesthat:Canon17.Alawyerowesfidelitytothecauseofhisclient
andheshallbemindfulofthetrustandconfidencereposedinhim.Canon15oftheCanonsofProfessionalEthics
alsodemandsalawyer'sfidelitytoclient:Thelawyersowes"entiredevotiontotheinterestoftheclient,warmzeal
inthemaintenanceanddefenseofhisrightsandtheexertionofhisutmostlearningandability,"totheendthat
nothingbetakenorbewithheldfromhim,savebytherulesoflaw,legallyapplied.Nofearofjudicialdisfavoror
publicpopularityshouldrestrainhimfromthefulldischargeofhisduty.Inthejudicialforumtheclientisentitledto
thebenefitofanyandeveryremedyanddefensethatisauthorizedbythelawoftheland,andhemayexpecthis
lawyertoasserteverysuchremedyordefense.Butitissteadfastlytobeborneinmindthatthegreattrustofthe
lawyeristobeperformedwithinandnotwithouttheboundsofthelaw.Theofficeofattorneydoesnotpermit,
muchlessdoesitdemandofhimforanyclient,violationoflaworanymanneroffraudorchicanery.Hemustobey
hisownconscienceandnotthatofhisclient.

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