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E.

Duty of Fiduciary

Jinon v. Jiz, A.C. No. 9615, Mar 5, 2013


FACTS: In 2003, Gloria Jinon engaged the services of Atty. Leonardo Jiz to help her recover a land title from her
sister-in-law. Jinon paid Atty. Jiz Php17,000.00 as acceptance fee.
After accepting the case, Atty. Jiz sent demand letters to Jinon’s sister-in-law, collected rents from the tenant of the
disputed property, and gave legal advice to Jinon. At the same time, he asked Php45,000.00 from Jinon which he said
will be used as expenses in the transfer of title. But Atty. Jiz never made a move to cause the title to be transferred in
Jinon’s name.
Eventually, Jinon decided to terminate the services of Atty. Jiz. And since the title was not transferred in her name,
she demanded that Atty. Jiz return the Php45,000.00 she earlier paid as well as the rents that Atty. Jiz had been
collecting (amounting to Php12,000.00). Atty. Jiz only returned Php5,000.00 from the rent.
Jinon then filed an administrative case against Atty. Jiz. Jinon demanded that Atty. Jiz return the Php45,000.00, the
remaining Php7,000.00 rent, as well as the Php17,000.00 acceptance fee.
In his defense, Atty. Jiz averred that Jinon agreed that his services will be worth Php75,000.00; and that his services
will only cover the protection of the rights of Jinon against her sister in law and not for the recovery of title. As such,
deducting the Php45,000.00 and the acceptance fee of Php17,000.00, Jinon actually still owe Atty. Jiz Php13,000.00.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Leonardo Jiz violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.
HELD: Yes, he violated Canons 16 and 18. Atty. Jiz was remiss in his duties as a lawyer in neglecting his client’s case
and misappropriating her fund. The defense raised by Atty. Jiz cannot be given credence because it appears that the
receipt for the acceptance fee he received from Jinon showed that the Php17 k was the “full payment”. The receipt
was even signed by him. Said amount is also sufficient to cover the actual legal services he rendered to Jinon.
Since he was not able to act on the transfer of title, he must return Jinon’s money. Money entrusted to a lawyer for a
specific purpose, such as for the processing of transfer of land title, but not used for the purpose, should be
immediately returned. A lawyer’s failure to return upon demand the funds held by him on behalf of his
client gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use in violation of the
trust reposed to him by his client. Such act is a gross violation of general morality as well as of professional ethics.
It impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves punishment. Atty. Jiz was suspended for two years.

San Pedro v. Mendoza, A.C. No. 5440, Dec 10, 2014;


Facts:
On or about November 21, 1996, complainants engaged the services of respondent to facilitate the transfer of title to
property, in the name of Isabel Azcarraga Marcaida, to complainants. 2 Complainants then gave respondent a check for
₱68,250.00 for the payment of transfer taxes.3 They also gave respondent a check for ₱13,800.00 for respondent’s
professional fee.4
Respondent failed to produce the title despite complainants’ repeated follow-ups. 5
Several letters were sent by respondent explaining the delay in the transfer of title. 6 However, respondent still failed
to produce the title.
Complainants subsequently referred the case to the barangay. 7 Respondent refused to return the amount
complainants gave for the transfer taxes.8 Complainants were then issued a certificate to file action. 9 They also sent a
letter demanding the refund of the money intended for the transfer taxes. 10 Respondent still did not return the money.

Issue: Whether respondent is guilty of violating Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for failing to hold
in trust the money of his clients?

Ruling: Yes.
After considering the parties’ arguments and the records of this case, this court resolves to adopt and approve the
Notice of Resolution No. XX-2013-839 dated June 22, 2013 of the IBP Board of Governors.
It has been said that "[t]he practice of law is a privilege bestowed on lawyers who meet the high standards oflegal
proficiency and morality. Any conduct that shows a violation of the norms and values of the legal profession exposes
the lawyer to administrative liability."35
An examination of the records reveals that respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:
CANON 16 - A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO
HIS POSSESSION.
Rule 16.01 – A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.

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Rule 16.02 – A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and those of others kept by
him.
Rule 16.03 – A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. However, he shall
have a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and
disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on all
judgments and executions he has secured for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court.
Rule 16.04 – A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by the
nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest
of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.
Similarly, Rule138, Section 25 of the Rules of Court provides:
Section 25. Unlawful retention of client's funds; contempt. — 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 lawyer’s duty under Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is clear:
The fiduciary nature of the relationship between counsel and client imposes on a lawyer the duty to account for the
money or property collected or received for or from the client[,] [thus] . . . [w]hen a lawyer collects or receives
money from his client for a particular purpose (such as for filing fees, registration fees, transportation and office
expenses), he should promptly account to the client how the money was spent. If he does not use the money for its
intended purpose, he must immediately return it to the client. His failure either to render an accounting or to return
the money (if the intended purpose of the money does not materialize) constitutes a blatant disregard of Rule 16.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
[The lawyer’s] failure to return the client’s money upon demand gives rise to the presumption that he has
misappropriated it for his own use to the prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in him by the client. 36
(Emphasis supplied)
Respondent admitted that there were delays in the transfer of title of property to complainants’ name.1âwphi1 He
continuously assured complainants that he would still fulfill his duty. However, after three (3) years and several
demands from complainants, respondent failed to accomplish the task given to him and even refused to return the
money. Complainants’ alleged failure to provide the necessary documents to effect the transfer does not justify his
violation of his duty under the CPR.

Luna v. Galarrita, A.C. No. 10662, Jul. 7, 2015;


Facts: Luna filed an Affidavit-Complaint against his lawyer, Atty. Galarrita before the IBP. He alleged that he retained
Atty. Galarrita’s legal services in filing a foreclosure complaint against Jose Calvario who allegedly owed him P100,000
secured by a Real Estate Mortage. After his formal offer of evidence, Atty. Galarrita opted to enter into a settlement
with the other party without informing him and without delivering to him the settlement proceeds.
When Luna learned of the settlement, he wrote to the respondent stating that the settlement is beyond what they
discussed. Atty. Galarrita replied that he entered into the settlement because he was certain that it was better than
winning the case and asked for understanding since he had not received any appearance fee for numerous hearings.
Luna mentioned that delay in retainer’s fee payments was due to Atty. Galarrita’s negligence in handling the case. The
respondent explained that the reason why the case was archived was because he could not attend several hearings
for lack of meal and transportation allowance going to Gumaca, Quezon, but such fact is moot because the case was
not dismissed by the court.
Luna received a letter from one of the heirs of Jose Calvario, Emma Tayag, and again from Lutchiare Calvario,
regarding the delivery of title since they paid the P100,000 settlement amount.
In his answer, Atty. Glarrita prays for the dismissal of the disbarment case, claiming that he entered into the
Compromise Agreement by virtue of a Special Power of Attorney. Also, he added that under their General Retainership
Agreement, Luna shall pay him P4,000 monthly and after 4 years, the client owes him an unpaid balance of P208,000.
He argues for an application of the rule on retaining lien.
The Investigating Commissioner found Atty. Galarrita guilty of violation Rule 16.03 of the CPR and recommended his
suspension from the practice of law for 1 year. The IBP board of Governors modified the recommendation,
recommending the respondent’s suspension from the practice of law for 6 months and ordered to return the amount
of P100,000.
Issue:
Whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for entering into a Compromise Agreement without
his client’s consent, then refusing to turn over the settlement proceeds received.
Held:
Yes. Complainant Luna entrusted Atty. Galarrita with handling the civil case involving a mortgaged land in Quezon
Province, however, without his consent, the latter settled the case with the other party. There are compelling reasons
to believe that Luna had not given any authority to enter into a Compromise Agreement: firstly, Luna was not a party
to the Compromise Agreement despite the fact that he was not abroad when the agreement was executed; secondly,
there was no indication that he had agreed to the amount of P100,000; thirdly, he was not seasonable informed of the
execution of the Compromise Agreement.

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Even if such authority was given, the SPA still cannot justify the Compromise Agreement on February 14, 2006. The
SPA was executed on September 16, 2002 before the filing of the complaint. The conclusion seems to be that the
authority given was to enter into a possible settlement during the preliminary conference or pre-trial.
Rule 16.03 under Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of
his client when due or upon demand. However, he shall have a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as
may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his client.
The respondent entered into the Compromise Agreement without the client’s consent and continued to act in bad fait
by refusing to turn over the P100,000 settlement amount received. It is not amiss to state that he entered into the
said agreement with the motivation to hold on to it and pave the way for the payment of his attorney’s fees. In doing
so, he violated the trust reposed in him by his client and violated Rule 16.03.
The CPR allows the lawyer to apply the money retained to satisfy his lawful fees. However. This provision assumes
that the client agrees with the lawyer as to the amount of the attorney’s fees and as to the application of the client’s
fund to pay his lawful fees and disbursements.
Atty. Galarrita is suspended from the practice of law for 2 years, with a stern warning. He is ordered to return to the
complainant Luna the amount of P100,000 with legal interest of 6% per annum from February 2006 until fully paid,
without prejudice to the filing of a collection case for retainer’s fee against complainant Luna.
Violations of Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the CPR which prohibits a lawyer from representing conflicting interests and
which enjoins a lawyer to observe candor, fairness, and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with clients.

Foronda v. Alvarez, A.C. No. 9976, Jun. 25, 2014;


Facts: The complainant institute a case for the nullification of her marriage. The respondent was referred to her and
the complainant agreed to engage his services for a fee of ₱195,000.00. The complainant averred that the respondent
promised to file the petition after he received the full payment of his attorney’s fee. The complainant inquired about
the status of her case and was allegedly told by the respondent that her petition was pending in court; and in another
time, she was told that a decision by the court was already forthcoming. However, when she came back to the
country in May 2009, the respondent told her that her petition was still pending in court and apologized for the delay.
Eventually, the complainant was able to get a copy of her petition and found out that it was filed a year later. The
complainant further alleged in her complaint that the week after she signed the contract of service with the
respondent, the latter requested for a meeting. Thinking that they were going to discuss her case, she agreed. But
during the meeting, the respondent invited her to be an investor in the lending business allegedly ran by the
respondent’s sister-in-law which he said can earn five percent (5%) interest per month. According to the complainant,
upon presentment of these checks, the drawee-bank honored the first two (2) checks, but the rest were dishonored
for being drawn against a closed account. When she brought the matter to the respondent, he promised to pay her in
cash. He actually paid her certain amounts as interest through her representative. Nevertheless, the respondent failed
to pay the entire obligation as promised.

Issue: Whether the delay of filing of the petition and issuance of worthless check constitute disbarment to the
Respondent?

Held:

It was established that the complainant engaged the professional services of the respondent. She expected the
immediate filing of the petition for the nullity of her marriage after the full payment of attorney’s fees on June 10,
2008. However, the respondent filed the said petition only on July 16, 2009. The respondent gave out different
reasons for the delay in an attempt to exculpate himself. At the end, the respondent admitted the delay and
apologized for it. It cannot be gainsaid that the complainant through her agent was diligent in following up the
petition. The different excuses proffered by the respondent also show his lack of candor in his dealings with the
complainant.

"Once a lawyer agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him." 27 "[H]e is required by the Canons of Professional Responsibility to
undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion." 28 "A lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and candor
not only protects the interest of his client, he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps
maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession." 29

The respondent’s act of issuing worthless checks is a violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
which requires that "a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." 30"[T]he issuance
of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyer’s unfitness

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for the trust and confidence reposed on him, shows such lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to
render him unworthy of public confidence, and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action." 31

It cannot be denied that the respondent’s unfulfilled promise to settle his obligation and the issuance of worthless
checks have seriously breached the complainant’s trust. She went so far as to file multiple criminal cases for violation
of B.P. Blg. 22 against him. "The relationship of an attorney to his client is highly fiduciary. Canon 15 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility provides that ‘a lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and
transactions with his client.’ Necessity and public interest enjoin lawyers to be honest and truthful when dealing with
his client."32

All told, this Court finds that the respondent is liable for violation of Canons 15, 33 17,34 Rule 18.04,35 and Rule
16.0436 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Likewise, he is also liable under Rule 1.01 37 thereof pursuant to our
ruling in Co v. Atty. Bernardino.38

Navarro v. Solidum, A.C. No. 9872, Jan 28, 2014;

FACTS: In April 2006, Hilda Presbitero engaged the services of Atty. Ivan Solidum, Jr. to help her in the quieting of
her title over a parcel of land. Presbitero paid Solidum P50,000.00 as acceptance fee.
In May 2006, Ma. Theresa Yulo, daughter of Presbitero also engaged the services of Solidum for the registration of a
parcel of land. Yulo however asked the help of her sister, Natividad Navarro, to finance the case. Hence, Navarro gave
Solidum Php200,000.00 for the registration expenses.
Meanwhile, Solidum in May and June 2006, obtained a total of Php2 million from Navarro. The loan was covered by
two Memorandum of Agreement (MOAs). The MOA was prepared by Solidum. The MOA stated that the monthly
interest shall be 10%.
Solidum also borrowed Php 1 million from Presbitero during the same period. He again drafted a MOA containing the
same terms and conditions as with Navarro. As additional security for the loan, Solidum mortgaged his 263-hectare
land for P1 million in favor of Presbitero.
Nothing happened in the quieting of title case field by Presbitero since Solidum did nothing after receiving the
acceptance fee.
In the land registration case of Yulo financed by Navarro, Navarro later found out that the land was already registered
to someone else. Navarro claims that she should not have financed the case if only Solidum advised her of the status
of the land.
Anent the loans, Solidum failed to pay them. Instead, he questioned the terms of the loans as he claimed that the
interest rate of said loans at 10% is unconscionable.
Navarro and Presbitero later filed an administrative case against Solidum.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Ivan Solidum, Jr. should be disbarred.
HELD: Yes.
Although Solidum acted in his private capacity when he obtained a total of Php3 million from Navarro and Presbitero,
he may still be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his private capacity. The test is whether his conduct
shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or whether it renders him
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. In this case, such act displayed by Solidum merited his disbarment.
Solidum is guilty of engaging in dishonest and deceitful conduct, both in his professional capacity with respect to his
client, Presbitero, and in his private capacity with respect to Navarro. Both Presbitero and Navarro allowed Splidum to
draft the terms of the loan agreements. Solidum drafted the MOAs knowing that the interest rates were exorbitant.
Later, using his knowledge of the law, he assailed the validity of the same MOAs he prepared.
In the case of Navarro, who financed the Yulo case, Solidum also violated Canon 16 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come
into his possession. This is notwithstanding the fact that Navarro is not actually his client in the Yulo case but was only
the financier of the Yulo case.
In Presbitero’s case, since Presbitero is his client, Solidum also violated Rule 16.04 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are
fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Even though Solidum secured the loan with a
mortgage and a MOA, Presbitero’s interest was not fully protected because the property Solidum mortgaged was
overvalued. He claimed that his 263-hectare land was worth P1 million but in fact Solidum sold it later for only
P150,000.00. Clearly, Presbitero was disadvantaged by Solidum’s ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege

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on his obligation. He took advantage of his knowledge of the law as well as the trust and confidence reposed in him by
his client.
Solidum was disbarred by the Supreme Court.

Viray v. Sanicas, A.C. No. 7337, Sep. 29, 2014;


FACTS:

Complainant alleges that he engaged the services of respondent relative to a labor case he filed against Ester
Lopez and Teodoro Lopez III (spouses Lopez). On February 26, 2001, the Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of
complainant.

Subsequently, an Alias Writ of Execution[4] was issued relative to aforesaid decision. During the implementation of
said writ, however, complainant discovered that respondent had already collected the total amount of P95,000.00
from spouses Lopez.

Complainant also discovered that respondent misrepresented to spouses Lopez that he is authorized to receive
payments on his behalf, when in truth and in fact he is not. Consequently, complainant made several verbal demands
to the respondent to remit to him the amount of P95,000.00, less his attorney's fees of P20,000.00. But respondent
did not budge. Thus, complainant lodged a complaint before the Office of the Punong Barangay of Brgy. Felisa,
Bacolod City. Respondent, however, ignored the summons to attend a conference before the barangay to resolve the
issues.

In his Comment,[5] respondent admits that he received P95,000.00 from spouses Lopez on installments, but denies
that he was not authorized to accept it. He explains that complainant agreed to pay him additional attorney's fees
equivalent to 25% of the total monetary award, on top of the attorney's fees that may be awarded by the labor
tribunal, and to refund all expenses respondent incurred relative to the case. Thus, from the total award of
P189,491.60, the sum of P17,226.57 representing respondent's professional fees has to be deducted, leaving a
balance of P172,275.13.[6] Then from said amount, complainant proposed that he will get P100,000.00 and the
balance of P72,275.13 shall belong to respondent as and for his additional 25% attorney's fees and reimbursement for
all expenses he incurred while handling the case. However, after receiving the amount of P95,000.00 and deducting
therefrom the amounts of P20,000.00[7] attorney's fees, P17,000.00 earlier given to complainant, and P2,000.00 paid
to the sheriff, what was left to respondent was only P56,000.00. Respondent whines that this amount is way below
the promised 25% attorney's fees and refund of expenses in the total amount of P72,275.13.

Respondent asserts that, in any event, complainant will still be receiving a sum greater than what he expects to
receive. He avers that complainant is still entitled to receive from spouses Lopez the sum of P93,491.60. Adding the
P17,000.00 respondent previously remitted to complainant, the latter will get a total amount of P110,491.60. This
amount, according to respondent, exceeds the amount of P100,000.00 complainant agreed to and expected to
receive.

ISSUE:
whether the respondent is guilty of gross misconduct for his failure to promptly account to his client the funds
received in the course of his professional engagement and return the same upon demand.

RULING:
"The Code of Professional Responsibility demands the utmost degree of fidelity and good faith in dealing with the
moneys entrusted to lawyers because of their fiduciary relationship."[13] Specifically, Rule 16.01 of the Code imposes
upon the lawyer the duty to "account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client." Rule
16.03 thereof, on the other hand, mandates that "[a] lawyer shall deliver the funds x x x of his client when due or
upon demand."

In this case, respondent on nine separate occasions from February 5, 2004 to April 30, 2004 received payments for
attorney's fees and partial payments for monetary awards on behalf of complainant from spouses Lopez. But despite
the number of times over close to three months he had been receiving payment, respondent neither informed the
complainant of such fact nor rendered an accounting thereon. It was only when an Alias Writ of Execution was issued
and being implemented when complainant discovered that spouses Lopez had already given respondent the total
amount of P95,000.00 as partial payment for the monetary awards granted to him by the labor tribunal.
The Court is not impressed. As aptly observed by the Investigating Commissioner, other than his self-serving
statements, there is nothing in the records which would support respondent's claim that he was authorized to receive
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the payments. Neither is there proof that complainant agreed to pay him additional 25% attorney's fees and
reimburse him for all expenses he allegedly incurred in connection with the case. Respondent did not present any
document, retainer's agreement, or itemized breakdown of the amount to be reimbursed to support his claim. In any
event, even assuming that respondent was authorized to receive payments, the same does not exempt him from his
duty of promptly informing his client of the amounts he received in the course of his professional employment. "The
fiduciary nature of the relationship between counsel and client imposes on a lawyer the duty to account for the money
or property collected or received for or from the client. He is obliged to render a prompt accounting of all the property
and money he has collected for his client." [16] "The fact that a lawyer has a lien for his attorney's fees on the money
in his hands collected for his client does not relieve him from the obligation to make a prompt accounting."[17]
Moreover, a lawyer has no right "to unilaterally appropriate his client's money for himself by the mere fact alone that
the client owes him attorney's fees."[18]

Concepcion v. De la Rosa, A.C. No. 10681, Feb. 3, 2015;


FACTS:

In their Verified Complaint, complainants alleged that from 1997 2 until August 2008,3 respondent served as their
retained lawyer and counsel. In this capacity, respondent handled many of their cases and was consulted on various
legal matters, among others, the prospect of opening a pawnshop business towards the end of 2005. Said business,
however, failed to materialize.4chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Aware of the fact that complainants had money intact from their failed business venture, respondent, on March 23,
2006, called Henry to borrow the amount of P2,500,000.00, which he promised to return, with interest, five (5) days
thereafter. Henry consulted his wife, Blesilda, who, believing that respondent would be soon returning the money,
agreed to lend the aforesaid sum to respondent. She thereby issued three (3) EastWest Bank checks 5 in respondent�s
name:6chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Upon receiving the checks, respondent signed a piece of paper containing: (a) photocopies of the checks; and (b) an
acknowledgment that he received the originals of the checks and that he agreed to return the P2,500,000.00, plus
monthly interest of five percent (5%), within five (5) days. 7 In the afternoon of March 23, 2006, the foregoing checks
were personally encashed by respondent.8chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
On March 28, 2006, or the day respondent promised to return the money, he failed to pay complainants. Thus, in
April 2006, complainants began demanding payment but respondent merely made repeated promises to pay soon. On
July 7, 2008, Blesilda sent a demand letter9 to respondent, which the latter did not heed. 10 On August 4, 2008,
complainants, through their new counsel, Atty. Kathryn Jessica dela Serna, sent another demand letter 11 to
respondent.12 In his Reply,13 the latter denied borrowing any money from the complainants. Instead, respondent
claimed that a certain Jean Charles Nault (Nault), one of his other clients, was the real debtor. Complainants brought
the matter to the Office of the Lupong Tagapamayapa in Barangay Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City. The parties,
however, failed to reach a settlement.14chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
On January 11, 2010, the IBP-Misamis Oriental Chapter received complainants� letter-complaint 15charging
respondent with violation of Rule 16.04 of the CPR. The rule prohibits lawyers from borrowing money from clients
unless the latter�s interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent
advice.16chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
In his Comment,17 respondent denied borrowing P2,500,000.00 from complainants, insisting that Nault was the real
debtor.18 He also claimed that complainants had been attempting to collect from Nault and that he was engaged for
that specific purpose.19chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
In their letter-reply,20 complainants maintained that they extended the loan to respondent alone, as evidenced by the
checks issued in the latter�s name. They categorically denied knowing Nault and pointed out that it defies common
sense for them to extend an unsecured loan in the amount of P2,500,000.00 to a person they do not even know.
Complainants also submitted a copy of the Answer to Third Party Complaint 21 which Nault filed as third-party
defendant in a related collection case instituted by the complainants against respondent. 22 In said pleading, Nault
explicitly denied knowing complainants and alleged that it was respondent who incurred the subject loan from
them.23chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
On November 23, 2010, the IBP-Misamis Oriental Chapter endorsed the letter-complaint to the IBP-Commission on
Bar Discipline (CBD),24 which was later docketed as CBD Case No. 11-2883. 25 In the course of the proceedings,
respondent failed to appear during the scheduled mandatory conferences. 26Hence, the same were terminated and the
parties were directed to submit their respective position papers. 27 Respondent, however, did not submit any.crala

ISSUE:
whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for violating the CPR.

RULING:
Under Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, a lawyer is prohibited from borrowing money from his client unless the
client�s interests are fully protected:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

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CANON 16 � A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his clients that may come into
his possession.

Rule 16.04 � A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client�s interests are fully
protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a
client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter
he is handling for the client.�

The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is one imbued with trust
and confidence. And as true as any natural tendency goes, this �trust and confidence� is prone to abuse. The rule
against borrowing of money by a lawyer from his client is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking advantage of his
influence over his client.46 The rule presumes that the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer�s ability to use all the
legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation. 47 In Frias v. Atty. Lozada48 (Frias) the Court categorically declared that
a lawyer�s act of asking a client for a loan, as what herein respondent did, is unethical, to
wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Likewise, her act of borrowing money from a client was a violation of [Rule] 16.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client�s interests are fully
protected by the nature of the case and by independent advice.
A lawyer�s act of asking a client for a loan, as what respondent did, is very unethical.� It
comes within those acts considered as abuse of client�s confidence. The canon presumes that
the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer�s ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege on her
obligation.49 (Emphasis supplied)

As above-discussed, respondent borrowed money from complainants who were his clients and whose interests, by the
lack of any security on the loan, were not fully protected. Owing to their trust and confidence in respondent,
complainants relied solely on the former�s word that he will return the money plus interest within five (5) days.
However, respondent abused the same and reneged on his obligation, giving his previous clients the runaround up to
this day. Accordingly, there is no quibble that respondent violated Rule 16.04 of the CPR.

In the same vein, the Court finds that respondent also violated Canon 7 of the CPR which
reads:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.

In unduly borrowing money from the complainants and by blatantly refusing to pay the same, respondent abused the
trust and confidence reposed in him by his clients, and, in so doing, failed to uphold the integrity and dignity of the
legal profession. Thus, he should be equally held administratively liable on this score.

That being said, the Court turns to the proper penalty to be imposed and the propriety of the IBP�s return directive

Yu v. De la Cruz, A.C. No. 10912, Jan. 19, 2016;


FACTS:
Respondent lawyer agreed to represent Paulina T. Yu in several cases after having received various amounts as
acceptance fees. On November 29, 2011, while the lawyer-client relationship was subsisting, respondent lawyer
borrowed pieces of jewelry from complainant and pledged the same with the Citystate Savings Bank, Inc. for the
amount of P29,945.50, as shown in the Promissory Note with Deed of Pledge.[3] Respondent lawyer appropriated the
proceeds of the pledge to his personal use. In order to facilitate the redemption of the said jewelry, respondent lawyer
issued to complainant, issued a check in the amount of P34,500.00. Upon presentment, however, complainant was
shocked to learn that the check was dishonored for the reason, "Account Closed."[4] Complainant immediately
notified respondent lawyer of the dishonor of the check.

In a letter,[5] complainant demanded for the refund of the acceptance fees received by respondent lawyer prior to the
"abandonment" of the cases and the payment of the value of the jewelry, but to no avail. In another letter,[6] this
time represented by another lawyer, Atty. Francisco C. Miralles, complainant yet again demanded the redemption of
the check in cash within five days from notice; the refund of the paid acceptance fees, in exchange for which no
service was rendered; the payment of the value of the pledged jewelry in the amount of PI00,000.00 in order to avoid
the interests due and the possible foreclosure of the pledge; and moral damages of P 300,000.00.

7
ISSUE:
Whether or not respondent iss guilty of misconduct

RULING:
Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the CPR which requires that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct." This indicates a lawyer's unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on him, shows such lack of
personal honesty and good moral character as to render him unworthy of public confidence, and constitutes a ground
for disciplinary action,[25] and thus seriously and irreparably tarnishes the image of the profession.[26] Such
conduct, while already off-putting when attributed to an ordinary person, is much more abhorrent when exhibited by a
member of the Bar.[27] As "vanguards of the law and the legal system, lawyers must at all times conduct
themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a
manner beyond reproach."

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Berlin R. Dela Cruz GUILTY of violating Canons 1, 16, 17, and Rules 1.01 and
16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court hereby SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for THREE
YEARS with a STERN WARNING
that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.

Ramos v. Mandagan, A.C. No. 11128, Apr. 6, 2016;

FACTS:

Ramos alleged that Atty. Mandagan demanded from him the amount of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00)
in connection with the criminal case filed against him. According to Ramos, the P300,000.00 shall be used as bail bond
in the event that his petition for bail is granted. 2 Also, Atty. Mandagan collected an additional amount of Ten Thousand
Pesos (₱10,000.00) for operating expenses. In both instances, an Acknowledgment Receipt was issued in his favor as
proof of payment.3

Contrary to the assurance, however, of Atty. Mandagan, Ramos’ petition for bail was denied. Moreover, Atty.
Mandagan withdrew as his counsel without returning the amount of ₱300,000.00 despite the demand sent by Ramos’
counsel.4

On December 19, 2012, the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) issued
an Order5 directing Atty. Mandagan to submit her Answer to Ramos’ complaint within fifteen (15) days from receipt of
the Order.

In her Answer,6 Atty. Mandagan argued that the amount of ₱300,000.00 was not intended for payment of bail, but as
mobilization expenses for preparation of witnesses, defenses, and other documentary exhibits for both Ramos and his
co-accused Gary Silawon.7 Atty. Mandagan likewise alleged that Ramos never paid her for acceptance, appearance
fees, and legal services rendered in the entire course of the proceedings until her withdrawal as counsel. 8

ISSUE:

Whether or not respondent is guilty of misconduct

RULING:

When a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular purpose, the lawyer must render an accounting to the
client showing that the money was spent for the intended purpose. Consequently, if the lawyer does not use the
money for the intended purpose, the lawyer must immediately return the money to the client. 16 (Citations omitted)

[A] lawyer has the duty to deliver his client’s funds or properties as they fall due or upon demand. His failure to
return the client’s money upon demand gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use
to the prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in him by the client. It is a gross violation of general morality
as well as of professional ethics; it impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves punishment. Indeed,
it may border on the criminal as it may constitute a prima facie case of swindling or estafa.18

8
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Maria Nympha C. Mandagan GUILTY of violating Canon 16, Rule
16.01 and Rule 16.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and SUSPENDS her from the practice of law for a
period of one (1) year effective upon receipt of this Resolution, with WARNING that a similar offense will be dealt
with more severely.

Malangas v. Zaide, A.C. No. 10675, May 31, 2016

FACTS:
Malangas engaged respondent lawyer's professional services to prosecute his complaint for damages against Alfeche
and NEMA. Malangas gave respondent lawyer P20,000.00 as acceptance fee and P50,000.00 as filing fees; Zaide
made him believe that the amount of P50,000.00 was needed as filing fees in order to commence a P5 million-damage
suit covering the accrued and anticipated damages caused by the accident; Subsequently, respondent lawyer filed on
his behalf a complaint for damages before the RTC of Iligan City, thereat docketed as Civil Case No. 6380; that
respondent lawyer then furnished him (complainant) with a copy of said Complaint seeking to recover damages in the
amount of P5 million; and that to assure him that the complaint had indeed been filed, this complaint was stamped
"received" by the RTC.

According to complainant, he later discovered, however, that his Complaint had been dismissed by the RTC because of
"failure to prosecute," for the reason that respondent lawyer did not attend two hearings in the case, and also
because respondent lawyer did not submit an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss filed therein by NEMA; that on
account of this, he asked respondent lawyer to file a Motion for Reconsideration, only to find out later that respondent
lawyer not only did not file a motion for reconsideration from the Order of dismissal issued by the RTC, but worse,
respondent lawyer instead filed a Withdrawal of Appearance as counsel effectiyely leaving him without counsel to
prosecute his case; and that after this, he sent a relative to the RTC, where he further discovered through this relative
that the amount of damages sought in the Complaint filed by respondent lawyer was only P250,000.00, and not P5
million, as stated in the copy of the Complaint given to him by respondent lawyer.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the respondent is guilty of misconduct

RULING:
Yes. Respondent lawyer's refusal to account for the funds given to him, especially his refusal to return the amount
paid in excess of what was required as docket fees, clearly violated Rules 16,01 and 16.03 of the CPR, to wit:

Rule 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the
client.

Rule 16.03 - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand.
However, he shall have a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to
satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also
have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and executions he has secured for his client as
provided for in the Rules of Court.

"The Code of Professional Responsibility demands the utmost degree of fidelity and good faith in dealing with the
moneys entrusted to lawyers because of their fiduciary relationship."[22] Any lawyer who does not live up to this duty
must be prepared to take the consequences of his waywardness.

Given the gravity of the offenses imputed against him, and considering that this is his second administrative case,
[29] respondent lawyer's defense that he was a young lawyer when he went astray, hardly merits sympathy from this
Court. Surely respondent lawyer could not have been unaware that when he took the solemn oath to become a
member of the bar, he did so not only to enjoy the rewards and privileges of an attorney and counsellor at law, but he
also took upon his shoulders the heavy burden of responsibility and duty that a full-fledged membership in the
Philippine Bar necessarily entailed. Respondent lawyer could not have been oblivious of the fact that the exercise of a
right or privilege is always encumbered with the burden of responsibility and duty.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Paul C. Zaide is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years effective
immediately. Atty, Paul C. Zaide is also ORDERED to promptly return to complainant the sums given to him as
acceptance fee and docket fees in the amount of P70,000.00, from which should be deducted the amount of
P2,623.60 paid as docketing fees.

9
F. Duty of Fairness

Cadavedo v. Lacaya, G.R. No. 173188, Jan. 15, 2014;

FACTS:
The Spouses Cadavedo acquired a homestead grant over a 230,765-square meter parcel of land known as Lot 5415
(subject lot) located in Gumay, Piñan, Zamboanga del Norte. They were issued Homestead Patent No. V-15414 on
March 13, 1953and Original Certificate of Title No. P-376 on July 2, 1953.On April30, 1955, the spouses Cadavedo
sold the subject lot to the spouses Vicente Ames and Martha Fernandez (the spouses Ames) Transfer Certificate of
Title (TCT) No. T-4792 was subsequently issued in the name of the spouses Ames.
The present controversy arose when the spouses Cadavedo filed an action before the RTC against the spouses Ames
for sum of money and/or voiding of contract of sale of homestead after the latter failed to pay the balance of the
purchase price. The spouses Cadavedo initially engaged the services of Atty. Rosendo Bandal who, for health reasons,
later withdrew from the case; he was substituted by Atty. Lacaya.
On February 24, 1969, Atty. Lacaya amended the complaint to assert the nullity of the sale and the issuance of TCT
No. T-4792 in the names of the spouses Ames as gross violation of the public land law. The amended complaint stated
that the spouses Cadavedo hired Atty. Lacaya on a contingency fee basis. The contingency fee stipulation specifically
reads:
10. That due to the above circumstances, the plaintiffs were forced to hire a lawyer on contingent basis and if they
become the prevailing parties in the case at bar, they will pay the sum of P2,000.00 for attorney’s fees.
Eventually Atty.Lacaya represented the Cadavedo spouses I two other cases in connection with the subject lot.
On appeal to the CA the appellate court granted attorney’s fee consisting of one-half or 10.5383 hectares of the
subject lot to Atty. Lacaya, instead of confirming the agreed contingent attorney’s fees of ₱2,000.00

ISSUE:
Whether or not the award by the CA of attorey's fees is valid.
HELD:
Court held that spouses Cadavedo and Atty. Lacaya agreed on a contingent fee of ₱2,000.00 and not, as asserted by
the latter, one-half of the subject lot. The stipulation contained in the amended complaint filed by Atty. Lacaya clearly
stated that the spouses Cadavedo hired the former on a contingency basis; the Spouses Cadavedo undertook to pay
their lawyer ₱2,000.00 as attorney’s fees should the case be decided in their favor. Granting arguendo that the
spouses Cadavedo and Atty. Lacaya indeed entered into an oral contingent fee agreement securing to the latter one-
half of the subject lot, the agreement is void. The agreement is champertous and is contrary to public policy. Any
agreement by a lawyer to “conduct the litigation in his own account, to pay the expenses thereof or to save his client
therefrom and to receive as his fee a portion of the proceeds of the judgment is obnoxious to the law.” The rule of the
profession that forbids a lawyer from contracting with his client for part of the thing in litigation in exchange for
conducting the case at the lawyer’s expense is designed to prevent the lawyer from acquiring an interest between him
and his client.
The agreement on attorney’s fee consisting of one-half of the subject lot is void; the petitioners are entitled to recover
possession. The written agreement providing for a contingent fee of P2,000.00 should prevail over the oral agreement
providing for one- half of the subject lot.
Atty. Lacaya’s acquisition of the one-half portion contravenes Article 1491 (5) of the Civil Code which forbids lawyers
from acquiring, by purchase or assignment, the property that has been the subject of litigation in which they have
taken part by virtue of their profession. The same proscription is provided under Rule 10 of the Canons of Professional
Ethics.
A thing is in litigation if there is a contest or litigation over it in court or when it is subject of the judicial action.
Following this definition, we find that the subject lot was still in litigation when Atty. Lacaya acquired the disputed
one-half portion. We note in this regard the following established facts:(1)on September 21, 1981, Atty. Lacaya filed a
motion for the issuance of a writ of execution in Civil Case No. 1721; (2) on September 23, 1981, the spouses Ames
filed Civil Case No. 3352 against the spouses Cadavedo; (3)on October 16, 1981, the RTC granted the motion filed for
the issuance of a writ of execution in Civil Case No. 1721 and the spouses Cadavedo took possession of the subject lot
on October 24, 1981; (4) soon after, the subject lot was surveyed and subdivided into two equal portions, and Atty.
Lacaya took possession of one of the subdivided portions; and (5) on May 13, 1982, Vicente and Atty. Lacaya
executed the compromise agreement.

Dalupan v. Gacott, A.C. No. 5067, Jun. 29, 2015)


FACTS:
Complainant claimed that she was a defendant in a criminal case for grave slander pending before the Municipal Trial
Court (MTC) of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Meanwhile, her son, Wilmer Dalupan, was also a defendant in a
separate criminal case for grave slander and malicious mischief pending before the same court. In order to represent

10
the complainant and her son, the complainant engaged the legal services of the respondent who then charged an
acceptance fee of P10,000.
On August 20, 1996, the complainant paid the respondent P5,000 as initial payment for his acceptance fee.
On August 27, 1996, the complainant requested the respondent to draft a Motion to Reduce Bail Bond. However, the
respondent allegedly denied the request and claimed that it was beyond the scope of his retainer services. Thus, the
complainant alleged that she caused a certain Roily Calbentos to draft the same which was however signed by the
respondent.
On January 31, 1997, the complainant paid the respondent the remaining balance of P5,000 for his acceptance fee.
When the complainant asked for an Official Receipt from the respondent, the latter refused saying that there was no
need for the issuance of a receipt. On that same day, the complainant also paid the respondent P500 for his
appearance fee in the preliminary conference and arraignment which occurred on the same day.
Thereafter, the complainant alleged that the respondent neglected his duties as counsel and failed to attend any of
the hearings before the MTC. In view of the respondent's repeated absences before the MTC, Judge Jocelyn S. Dilig
issued an Order which appointed a counsel 聽 de oficio 聽 to represent the complainant.
Aggrieved, the complainant filed the instant complaint for disbarment against the respondent.
ISSUE:
Whether the respondent should return the payment of the attorney's fee to the complainant in the amount of P5,000.
RULING:
We find that the respondent did not commit any fault or negligence in the performance of his obligations under the
retainer agreement which was wilfully terminated by the complainant on the ground of loss of trust and confidence. As
held by the Investigating Commissioner, the evidence on record shows that the respondent is not liable for
abandonment or neglect of duty.
However, we disagree with the conclusion of the Investigating Commissioner that the respondent should return the
payment of the attorney's fee to the complainant in the amount of P5,000.
Firstly, we agree with the respondent that there is a distinction between attorney's fee and acceptance fee.
It is well-settled that attorney's fee is understood both in its ordinary and extraordinary concept.[11] In its ordinary
sense, attorney's fee refers to the reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer by his client for legal services rendered.
Meanwhile, in its extraordinary concept, attorney's fee is awarded by the court to the successful litigant to be paid by
the losing party as indemnity for damages.[12] In the present case, the Investigating Commissioner referred to the
attorney's fee in its ordinary concept.
On the other hand, acceptance fee refers to the charge imposed by the lawyer for merely accepting the case. This is
because once the lawyer agrees to represent a client, he is precluded from handling cases of the opposing party based
on the prohibition on conflict of interest. Thus, he incurs an opportunity cost by merely accepting the case of the client
which is therefore indemnified by the payment of acceptance fee. Since the acceptance fee only seeks to compensate
the lawyer for the lost opportunity, it is not measured by the nature and extent of the legal services rendered.
In the present case, based on a simple reading of the Official Receipt dated August 20, 1996, the parties clearly
intended the payment of P5,000 to serve as acceptance fee of the respondent, and not attorney's fee. Moreover, both
parties expressly claimed that they intended such payment as the acceptance fee of the respondent. Absent any other
evidence showing a contrary intention of the parties, we find that the Investigating Commissioner gravely erred in
referring to the amount to be returned by the respondent as attorney's fee.
Since the Investigating Commissioner made an erroneous reference to attorney's fee, he therefore mistakenly
concluded that the respondent should return the same as he did not perform any substantial legal work on behalf of
the complainant. As previously mentioned, the payment of acceptance fee does not depend on the nature and extent
of the legal services rendered.

Secondly, the respondent did not commit any fault or negligence which would entail the return of the acceptance fee.
Once a lawyer receives the acceptance fee for his legal services, he is expected to serve his client with competence,
and to attend to his client's cause with diligence, care and devotion.[13] In the present case, the complainant alleged
that she requested the respondent to draft a Motion to Reduce Bail Bond which was denied by the latter. She also
claimed that the respondent failed to attend any of the hearings before the MTC. Thus, the complainant filed the
present complaint for disbarment on the ground of abandonment or neglect of duty. On the other hand, the
respondent denied the allegation that he failed to draft the Motion to Reduce Bail Bond and submitted a copy of the
MTC Order[16] dated August 28, 1996 granting the motion to reduce bail. He also justified his failure to attend the
hearings before the MTC to the failure of the process server to provide him with a Notice of Hearing.
Other than her bare allegations, the complainant failed to present any evidence to support her claim that the
respondent committed abandonment or neglect of duty. Thus, we are constrained to affirm the factual findings of the
Investigating Commissioner that the presumption of regularity should prevail in favor of the respondent. Absent any
fault or negligence on the part of the respondent, we see no legal basis for the order of the Investigating
Commissioner to return the attorney's fee (acceptance fee) of P5,000.

11
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2007-115 and Resolution
No. XIX-2010-544 of the IBP Board of Governors insofar as they ordered the respondent to return the attorney's fee
(acceptance fee) to the complainant in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000) are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

G. Duty of Competence and Diligence


Penilla v. Alcid, A.C. No. 9149, Sep 4, 2013;
Facts:
An administrative complaint in the IBPwas filed against respondent, Atty. Alcid, Jr. for violation of the Lawyer’s Oath
and the Code of Professional Responsibility, and for gross misconduct in the performance of his duty as a lawyer. This
rooted when Penilla entered into an Agreement with Spouses Garin for the repair of his Volkswagen automobile but
despite payment, the spouses defaulted in their obligation. Penilla decided to file a case for breach of contract and
engaged the service of Atty. Alcid, Jr.

The stories of the two sides were quite different from each other. However, the following events were proven:
Respondent filed a criminal case of estafa when the fact of the case warranted the filing of a civil case for breach of
contract. After the complaint for estafa was dismissed, Atty. Alcid committed another blunder by filing a civil case for
specific performance and damages before the RTC, when he should have filed it with the MTC due to the amount
involved, that was only P36,000. Also after the criminal and civil cases were dismissed, respondent was plainly
negligent and did not apprise complainant of the status and progress of both cases he filed for the Penilla.

Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Alcid, Jr. violated the Laywer’s Oath and Code of Professional Responsibility when dealing with
his client, Penilla.

Held:
Yes. The Supreme Court held that Atty. Alcid, Jr. violated Canon 17, 18 and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Atty. Alcid, Jr. violated his oath under Canon 18 to “serve his client with competence and
diligence” when he filed a criminal case for estafa when facts of the case would have warranted the filing of a civil
case for breach of contract. The errors committed with respect to the nature of the remedy adopted in the criminal
complaint and the forum selected in the civil complaint were so basic and could have been easily averted has Alcid
been more diligent and circumspect in his role as counsel for complainant. Alciddid not also apprise complainant of the
status of the cases. This is in violation of Rules 18.03 and 18.04 which oblige a lawyer to keep his client informed of
the status of the case and to respond with a reasonable time to the client’s request for informationHe paid no
attention and showed no importance to complainant’s cause despite repeated follow-ups. Atty. Alcid, Jr. is not only
guilty of incompetence in handling the cases. The excuse that Alcidproffered, that their time did not always coincide,
is found by the Court as too lame and flimsy. His lack of professionalism in dealing with complainant is gross and
inexcusable. Alcid also violated Canon 17 which states that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he
shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. The legal profession dictates that it is not a mere duty,
but an obligation, of a lawyer to accord the highest degree, fidelity, zeal and fervor in the protection of client’s
interest. The most thorough groundwork and study must be undertaken in order to safeguard the interest of the
client. Atty. Alcid, Jr. has defied and failed to perform such duty and his omission is tantamount to a desecration of
the Lawyer’s Oath.

Sotto v. Palicte, G.R. No. 159691, Feb. 17, 2014;


Facts:

We start this decision by expressing our alarm that this case is the fifth suit to reach the Court dividing the several
heirs of the late Don Filemon Y. Sotto (Filemon) respecting four real properties that had belonged to Filemon's estate
(Estate of Sotto).

The first case (Matilde S. Palicte v. Hon. Jose O. Ramolete, et al., No. L-55076, September 21, 1987, 154 SCRA 132)
held that herein respondent Matilde S. Palicte (Matilde), one of four declared heirs of Filemon, had validly redeemed
the four properties pursuant to... the assailed deed of redemption, and was entitled to have the title over the four
properties transferred to her name, subject to the right of the three other declared heirs to join her in the redemption
of the four properties within a period of six months.

The second was the civil case filed by Pascuala against Matilde (Civil Case No. CEB-19338) to annul the former's
waiver of rights, and to restore her as a co-redemptioner of Matilde with respect to the four properties (G.R. No.
131722, February 4, 1998).

The third was an incident in Civil Case No. R-10027 (that is, the suit brought by the heirs of Carmen Rallos against the
Estate of Sotto) wherein the heirs of Miguel belatedly filed in November 1998 a motion for reconsideration praying

12
that the order issued on October 5, 1989... be set aside, and that they be still included as Matilde's co-redemptioners.
After the trial court denied their motion for reconsideration for its lack of merit, the heirs of Miguel elevated the denial
to the CA on certiorari and prohibition, but the CA dismissed their... petition and upheld the order issued on October
5, 1989. Thence, the heirs of Miguel came to the Court on certiorari (G.R. No. 154585), but the Court dismissed their
petition for being filed out of time and for lack of merit on September 23, 2002.

The fourth was The Estate of Don Filemon Y. Sotto, represented by its duly designated Administrator, Sixto Sotto
Pahang, Jr. v. Matilde S. Palicte, et al. (G.R. No. 158642, September 22, 2008, 566 SCRA 142), whereby the Court
expressly affirmed the ruling rendered by... the probate court in Cebu City in Special Proceedings No. 2706-R entitled
Intestate Estate of the Deceased Don Filemon Sotto denying the administrator's motion to require Matilde to turn over
the four real properties to the Estate of Sotto.

The fifth is this case. It seems that the disposition by the Court of the previous cases did not yet satisfy herein
petitioners despite their being the successors-in-interest of two of the declared heirs of Filemon who had been parties
in the previous cases either... directly or in privity. They now pray that the Court undo the decision promulgated on
November 29, 2002, whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) declared their action for the partition of the four properties as
already barred by the judgments previously rendered, and the resolution... promulgated on August 5, 2003 denying
their motion for reconsideration.

On July 22, 2013, Atty. Mahinay submitted a so-called Compliance (With Humble Motion for Reconsideration)
containing his explanations, praying that he not be sanctioned for violating the rule against forum shopping, as
follows:

The first three cases did not resolve the issues raised in Civil Case No. CEB-24393;

Marcelo Sotto's cause of action arose only when respondent Palicte violated her "hypothetically admitted" agreement
with Marcelo Sotto;

He (Atty. Mahinay) was not the one who had prepared and signed the complaint in Civil Case No. CEB-24393,
although he assumed the responsibility as to its filing;

He (Atty. Mahinay) had filed a motion for referral or consolidation of Civil Case No. CEB-24293 with the intestate
proceedings of the Estate of Filemon Y. Sotto, and

He (Atty. Mahinay) had acted in good faith in assisting the administrator of the Estate of Filemon Y. Sotto in filing the
Motion to Require Matilde Palicte To Turn Over And/or Account Properties Owned by the Estate in Her Possession.

Issues:

whether or not the petitioners' counsel, Atty. Makilito B. Mahinay, committed forum shopping.

Ruling:

What we have seen here is a clear demonstration of unmitigated forum shopping on the part of petitioners and their
counsel. It should not be enough for us to just express our alarm at petitioners' disregard of the doctrine of res
judicata. We do not justly conclude... this decision unless we perform one last unpleasant task, which is to demand
from petitioners' counsel, Atty. Makilito B. Mahinay, an explanation of his role in this pernicious attempt to relitigate
the already settled issue regarding Matilde's exclusive right in the four... properties. He was not unaware of the other
cases in which the issue had been definitely settled considering that his clients were the heirs themselves of Marcelo
and Miguel. Moreover, he had represented the Estate of Sotto in G.R. No. 158642 (The Estate of Don Filemon Y. Sotto
v. Palicte). (Bold underscoring added for emphasis only)

The Court considers Atty. Mahinay's explanations unsatisfactory.

First of all, Atty. Mahinay claims that he could not be deemed guilty of forum shopping because the previous cases did
not involve the issues raised in Civil Case No. CEB-24293; hence, res judicata would not apply. He maintains that Civil
Case No. CEB-24293 was based... on the agreement between Palicte and Marcelo Sotto (as the then Administrator of
the Estate) to the effect that Palicte would redeem the properties under her name using the funds of the Estate, and
she would thereafter share the same properties equally with the Estate.

Atty. Mahinay's reliance on Palicte's hypothetical admission of her agreement with Marcelo Sotto to buttress his
explanation here is unjustified. Such hypothetical admission is only for the purpose of resolving the merits of the
ground of insufficiency of the complaint. This... is because the test of the sufficiency of the statement of the cause of
action is whether or not, accepting the veracity of the facts alleged, the court could render a valid judgment upon the
same in accordance with the prayer of the complaint.

To stress, the admission of the veracity of the facts alleged in the complaint, being only hypothetical, does not extend
beyond the resolution of the motion to dismiss, because a defending party may effectively traverse the factual

13
averments of the complaint or other... initiatory pleading only through the authorized responsive pleadings like the
answer. Clearly, Atty. Mahinay cannot bind Palicte to her hypothetical admission of the agreement between her and
Marcelo Sotto as the Administrator of the Estate.

Given the foregoing, the complaint was properly dismissed because of res judicata. There is no question that the
ultimate objective of each of the actions was the return of the properties to the Estate in order that such properties
would be partitioned among the... heirs. In the other cases, the petitioners failed to attain the objective because
Palicte's right in the properties had been declared exclusive. There was between Civil Case No. CEB-24293 and the
other cases a clear identity of the parties, of subject matter, of evidence, and of... the factual and legal issues raised.
The Court saw through the petitioners' "ploy to countermand the previous decisions' sustaining Palicte's rights over
the properties."

Secondly, Atty. Mahinay asserts good faith in the filing Civil Case No. CEB-24293.

He points out that an associate lawyer in his law office prepared and filed the complaint without his law firm being yet
familiar with the incidents in the intestate proceedings involving the Estate, or with those of the previous three cases
mentioned in the decision of June 13, 2013.

He posits that such lack of knowledge of the previous cases shows his good faith, and rules out deliberate forum
shopping on his part and on the part of his... law firm.

Rather than prove good faith, the filing of the complaint, "simply guided by the facts as narrated and the documentary
evidence submitted by petitioners,"... smacked of professional irresponsibility. It is axiomatic that a lawyer shall not
handle any... legal matter without adequate preparation.

He is expected to make a thorough study and an independent assessment of the case he is about to commence. As
such, his claim of good faith was utterly baseless and unfounded.

Thirdly, Atty. Mahinay states that his filing of the Motion To Refer Or Consolidate The Instant Case With The
Proceedings In The Intestate Estate Of Filemon Sotto Before RTC Branch XVI In SP Proc. No. 2706-R[15] disproved
deliberate forum... shopping on his part.

The Court disagrees. Atty. Mahinay's filing of the Motion To Refer Or Consolidate The Instant Case With The
Proceedings In The Intestate Estate Of Filemon Sotto Before RTC Branch XVI In SP Proc. No. 2706-R indicated that he
relentlessly pursued the goal of taking... away the properties from Palicte in disregard of the rulings in the earlier
cases. We note that the dismissal of the complaint in Civil Case No. CEB-24293 on November 15, 1999[16] prompted
Atty. Mahinay to file a motion for reconsideration on December 3,... 1999.[17] But he did not await the resolution of
the motion for reconsideration, and instead filed the Motion To Refer Or Consolidate The Instant Case With The
Proceedings In The Intestate Estate Of Filemon Sotto Before RTC Branch XVI In SP Proc. No. 2706-R... on May 9,
2000 obviously to pre-empt the trial court's denial of the motion.[18] His actuations did not manifest good faith on his
part. Instead, they indicated an obsession to transfer the case to another court to enable his clients to have another
chance... to obtain a favorable resolution, and still constituted deliberate forum shopping.

And, lastly, Atty. Mahinay argues that his assisting the Administrator of the Estate in filing the Motion to Require
Matilde Palicte To Turn Over And/or Account Properties Owned by the Estate in Her Possession, wherein he disclosed
the commencement of Civil Case No.

CEB-24293, and extensively quoted the allegations of the complaint, disproved any forum shopping. He insists that
his disclosure of the pendency of Civil Case No. CEB-24293 proved that forum shopping was not in his mind at all.

The insistence cannot command belief. The disclosure alone of the pendency of a similar case does not negate actual
forum shopping. Had Atty. Mahinay been sincere, the least he could have done was to cause the dismissal of the
action that replicated those already ruled... against his clients. The records show otherwise. The filing of the Motion to
Require Matilde Palicte To Turn Over And/or Account Properties Owned by the Estate in Her Possession on June 7,
2000, a day after the trial court denied his motion for reconsideration in Civil Case No. CEB-24293, was undeniably
another attempt of the petitioners and Atty. Mahinay to obtain a different resolution of the same claim. Needless to
observe, the motion reiterated the allegations in Civil Case No. CEB-24293, and was the subject of the petition in The
Estate of Don Filemon Y. Sotto vs. Palicte.[19]

The acts of a party or his counsel clearly constituting willful and deliberate forum shopping shall be ground for the
summary dismissal of the case with prejudice, and shall constitute direct contempt, as well as be a cause for
administrative sanctions against the... lawyer.[20] Forum shopping can be committed in either of three ways, namely:
(1) filing multiple cases based on the same cause of action and with the same prayer, the previous case not having
been resolved yet (litis pendentia); (2) filing multiple... cases based on the same cause of action and the same
prayer, the previous case having been finally resolved (res judicata); or (3) filing multiple cases based on the same
cause of action but with different prayers (splitting of causes of action, where the ground for... dismissal is also either
litis pendentia or res judicata). If the forum shopping is not willful and deliberate, the subsequent cases shall be

14
dismissed without prejudice on one of the two grounds mentioned above. But if the forum shopping is willful and...
deliberate, both (or all, if there are more than two) actions shall be dismissed with prejudice.

WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS and PRONOUNCES ATTY. MAKILITO B. MAHINAY guilty of forum shopping; and
ORDERS him to pay to this Court, through the Office of the Clerk of Court, a FINE of

P2,000.00 within fifteen (15) days from notice hereof.

Figueras v. Jimenez, A.C. No. 9116, Mar. 12, 2014;


Facts:

Congressional Village Homeowner’s Association, Inc. is the entity incharge of the affairs of the homeowners of
Congressional Village in Quezon City. Spouses Federico and Victoria Santander filed a civil suit for damages against
the Association and Ely Mabanag before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, for building a concrete wall
which abutted their property and denied them of their right of way. The spouses Santander likewise alleged that
said concrete wall was built in violation of Quezon City Ordinance No. 8633, S-71 which prohibits the closing,
obstructing, preventing or otherwise refusing to the public or vehicular traffic the use of or free access to any
subdivision or community street. The Law Firm of Gonzalez, Sinense, Jimenez and Associates was the legal counsel for
the Association, with respondent as the counsel of record and handling lawyer. After trial and hearing, the RTC
rendered a decision in favor of the Spouses Santander. The Association, represented by said law firm, appealed
to the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA issued a Resolution dismissing the appeal on the ground that the
original period to file the appellant’s brief had expired 95 days even before the first motion for extension of
time to file said brief was filed. The CA also stated that the grounds adduced for the said motion as well as the
six subsequent motions for extension of time to file brief were not meritorious. The CA resolution became final.

Eight years later, complainants Nestor Figueras and Bienvenido Victoria, Jr., as members of the Association, filed a
Complaint for Disbarment against respondent before the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) for violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility for his negligence in handling the appeal and willful violation of his duties as an
officer of the court.

Respondent denied administrative liability. He claimed the case was actually handled by an associate lawyer in his
law office. As the partner in charge of the case, he exercised general supervision over the handling counsel
and signed the pleadings prepared by said handling lawyer. Upon discovery of the omissions of the handling
lawyer, appropriate sanctions were imposed on the handling lawyer and he thereafter personally took
responsibility and spent personal funds to negotiate a settlement with Federico Santander at no cost to the
Association. No damage whatsoever was caused to the Association. Respondent likewise alleged that after he
defeated complainant Figueras in the election for President of the homeowner’s association in Figueras and
Victoria, stopped paying their association dues and other assessments. Complainants and other delinquent
members of the association were sanctioned by the Board of Directors and were sued by the association before
the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). In retaliation, complainants filed the present disbarment case
against him and several other cases against him and other officers of the association before the HLURB. Respondent
added that complainants have no personality to file the disbarment complaint as they were not his clients;
hence, there was likewise no jurisdiction over the complaint on the part of the IBP-CBD. Respondent prayed for the
outright dismissal of the disbarment case for lack of merit. The Investigating Commissioner of the IBP-CBD found
respondent liable for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of three to six months, with warning that a repetition of the same or
similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.

Respondent sought reconsideration but his motion was denied. The IBP Board of Governors noted the motion was a
mere reiteration of matters already discussed and there were no substantial grounds to disturb the February 19,
2009 Resolution.
ISSUE:
Whether or not respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility
RULING:
Court finds that the suspension of respondent from the practice of law is proper.
The Court agrees with the IBP that respondent had been remiss in the performance of his duties as counsel for
Congressional Village Homeowner's Association, Inc. Records show that respondent filed the first motion for extension
of time to file appellant's brief 95 days after the expiration of the reglementary period to file said brief, thus causing
the dismissal of the appeal of the homeowner's association. To justify his inexcusable negligence, respondent alleges
that he was merely the supervising lawyer and that the fault lies with the handling lawyer. His contention, however, is
belied by the records for we note that respondent had filed with the CA an Urgent Motion for Extension, which he
himself signed on behalf of the law firm, stating that a previous motion had been filed but "due to the health condition
15
of the undersigned counsel…he was not able to finish said Appellants' Brief within the fifteen (15) day period earlier
requested by him."[19] Thus, it is clear that respondent was personally in charge of the case.

A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter's interest with utmost
diligence. In failing to file the appellant's brief on behalf of his client, respondent had fallen far short of his duties as
counsel as set forth in Rule 12.04,[20]Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which exhorts every
member of the Bar not to unduly delay a case and to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy
and efficient administration of justice. Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the same Code also states that:

Canon 18 A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.

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

It has been stressed that the determination of whether an attorney should be disbarred or merely suspended for a
period involves the exercise of sound judicial discretion.[22] The penalties for a lawyer's failure to file a brief or other
pleading range from reprimand,[23]warning with fine,[24] suspension[25] and, in grave cases, disbarment.[26] In
the present case, we find too harsh the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors that respondent be suspended
from the practice of law for a period of six months. Under the circumstances, we deem the penalty of suspension for
one month from the practice of law to be more commensurate with the extent of respondent's violation.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez is found administratively liable for violation of Rule
12.04, Canon 12 and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is suspended from the
practice of law for one (1) month effective from finality of this Resolution, with warning that a repetition of the same
or similar violation shall be dealt with more severely.

Baens v. Sempio, A.C. No. 10378, Jun. 9, 2014;


FACTS:
Complainant engaged the services of the respondent to represent him and file a case for Declaration of Nullity of
Marriage against his wife, Lourdes V. Mendiola-Baens. In his complaint-affidavit dated March 15, 2010, the
complainant alleged, among others, that the respondent: (1) despite receiving the sum of P250,000.00 to cover for
the expenses in the said case,[6]failed to file the corresponding petition, and it was the complainant's wife who
successfully instituted Civil Case No. 2463-08,[7] for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage on December 8, 2008; (2) even
with the complainant furnishing him a copy of the Summons dated December 15, 2008,[8] belatedly filed an
Answer[9] and was able to file it only on March 13, 2009 which was after the 15-day period stated in the Summons;
(3) failed to make an objection on the petition on the ground of improper venue as neither the complainant nor his
wife were and are residents of Dasmariñas, Cavite; (4) never bothered to check the status of the case and thus failed
to discover and attend all the hearings set for the case; and (5) as a result, Civil Case No. 2463-08 was
decided[10] on October 27, 2009 without the complainant being able to present his evidence.
In his Answer,[11] the respondent denied the allegations in the complaint, and explained that: (1) after a meeting
with the complainant, he drafted the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and asked the complainant to go
over said draft after which he proceeded to file the same with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malabon City; (2) the
complainant was aware that said petition will be filed in Malabon City as the latter had signed the verification and
certification of the petition; (3) the case became pending and was later on withdrawn because of the complainant's
refusal to testify; (4) what contributed to the delay in filing the Answer was the fact that he still had to let the
complainant go over the same and sign the verification thereof; (5) he was not able to attend the hearings for the
case because he did not receive any notice from the trial court; and (6) it was only on December 2, 2009 when he
found out that the trial court has already rendered its decision and that the complainant had changed counsels.
ISSUE:
Whether or not respondent
RULING:
The Court finds it fitting to sustain the IBP's findings and the recommended sanction of suspension from the practice
of law since the attendant facts of the case show substantial evidence to support the respondent's delinquency.
The relationship between a lawyer and his client is one imbued with utmost trust and confidence. In this regard,
clients are led to expect that lawyers would be ever-mindful of their cause and accordingly exercise the required
degree of diligence in handling their affairs. For his part, the lawyer is expected to maintain at all times a high
standard of legal proficiency, and to devote his full attention, skill, and competence to the case, regardless of its
importance and whether he accepts it for a fee or for free.[16] Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in which
duty of public service, not money, is the primary consideration.[17]

16
It is beyond dispute that the complainant engaged the services of the respondent to handle his case. The records,
however, definitively bear out that the respondent was completely remiss and negligent in handling the complainant's
case, notwithstanding his receipt of the sum of P250,000.00 for the total expenses to be incurred in the said case.
The excuse proffered by the respondent that he did not receive any orders or notices from the trial court is highly
intolerable. In the first place, securing a copy of such notices, orders and case records was within the respondent's
control and is a task that a lawyer undertakes. Moreso, the preparation and the filing of the answer is a matter of
procedure that fully fell within the exclusive control and responsibility of the respondent. It was incumbent upon him
to execute all acts and procedures necessary and incidental to the advancement of his client's cause of action.
Records further disclose that the respondent omitted to update himself of the progress of his client's case with the
trial court, and neither did he resort to available legal remedies that might have protected his client's interest.
Although a lawyer has complete discretion on what legal strategy to employ in a case entrusted to him, he must
present every remedy or defense within the authority of law to support his client's interest. When a lawyer agrees to
take up a client's cause, he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in protecting the latter's rights.[18]
Evidently, the acts of the respondent plainly demonstrated his lack of candor, fairness, and loyalty to his client as
embodied in Canon 15 of the Code. A lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and candor not only protects the
interest of his client; he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the
community to the legal profession.[19]

In this case, the respondent's reckless and inexcusable negligence deprived his client of due process and his actions
were evidently prejudicial to his clients' interests. A lawyer's duty of competence and diligence includes not merely
reviewing the cases entrusted to his care or giving sound legal advice, but also consists of properly representing the
client before any court or tribunal, attending scheduled hearings or conferences, preparing and filing the required
pleadings, prosecuting the handled cases with reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination even without
prodding from the client or the court.[20]
Clearly, it cannot be doubted that the respondent violated Canon 17, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code which
states that "a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him." It further mandates that "a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence," and that "a
lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him
liable."[21]
It must be emphasized that after the respondent agreed to handle the complainant's case, he became duty-bound to
serve his client with competence and diligence, and to champion his cause with whole-hearted fidelity. By failing to
afford his client every remedy and defense that is authorized by law, the respondent fell short of what is expected of
him as an officer of the Court.[22]

Thus, for the respondent's negligence and inadequacies in handling his client's case, the recommendation of the IBP to
suspend the respondent from the practice of law is well-taken. While the IBP Board of Governors increased the period
of suspension to one year, the Court finds the period of six months as recommended by the Investigating
Commissioner commensurate to the facts of the case.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court AFFIRMS with MODIFICATION the Resolution dated June 22, 2013 of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors in CBD Case No. 10-2673. The Court hereby SUSPENDS Atty. Jonathan T.
Sempio from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS effective immediately upon receipt of this Decision.

Foronda v. Alvarez, A.C. No. 9976, Jun. 25, 2014;


Facts: The complainant institute a case for the nullification of her marriage. The respondent was referred to her and
the complainant agreed to engage his services for a fee of ₱195,000.00. The complainant averred that the respondent
promised to file the petition after he received the full payment of his attorney’s fee. The complainant inquired about
the status of her case and was allegedly told by the respondent that her petition was pending in court; and in another
time, she was told that a decision by the court was already forthcoming. However, when she came back to the
country in May 2009, the respondent told her that her petition was still pending in court and apologized for the delay.
Eventually, the complainant was able to get a copy of her petition and found out that it was filed a year later. The
complainant further alleged in her complaint that the week after she signed the contract of service with the
respondent, the latter requested for a meeting. Thinking that they were going to discuss her case, she agreed. But
during the meeting, the respondent invited her to be an investor in the lending business allegedly ran by the
respondent’s sister-in-law which he said can earn five percent (5%) interest per month. According to the complainant,
upon presentment of these checks, the drawee-bank honored the first two (2) checks, but the rest were dishonored
for being drawn against a closed account. When she brought the matter to the respondent, he promised to pay her in
cash. He actually paid her certain amounts as interest through her representative. Nevertheless, the respondent failed
to pay the entire obligation as promised.

Issue: Whether the delay of filing of the petition and issuance of worthless check constitute disbarment to the
Respondent?

17
Held: At the outset, it must be stressed that "[a] lawyer, by taking the lawyer's oath, becomes a guardian of the law
and an indispensable instrument for the orderly administration of justice."[23] He can be disciplined for any conduct,
in his professional or private capacity, which renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court.[24] For of all
classes and professions, it is the lawyer who is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws, for he is their sworn servant.
[25]

"Disbarment of lawyers is a proceeding that aims to purge the law profession of unworthy members of the bar. It is
intended to preserve the nobility and honor of the legal profession."[26] Therefore, it is incumbent upon this Court to
determine the full extent of the respondent's liability, and to impose the proper penalty therefor.

It was established that the complainant engaged the professional services of the respondent. She expected the
immediate filing of the petition for the nullity of her marriage after the full payment of attorney's fees on June 10,
2008. However, the respondent filed the said petition only on July 16, 2009. The respondent gave out different
reasons for the delay in an attempt to exculpate himself. At the end, the respondent admitted the delay and
apologized for it. It cannot be gainsaid that the complainant through her agent was diligent in following up the
petition. The different excuses proffered by the respondent also show his lack of candor in his dealings with the
complainant.

"Once a lawyer agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him."[27] "[H]e is required by the Canons of Professional Responsibility
to undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion."[28] "A lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and
candor not only protects the interest of his client, he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps
maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession."[29]

The respondent's act of issuing worthless checks is a violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
which requires that "a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."[30] "[T]he
issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyer's
unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on him, shows such lack of personal honesty and good moral character
as to render him unworthy of public confidence, and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action."[31]

It cannot be denied that the respondent's unfulfilled promise to settle his obligation and the issuance of worthless
checks have seriously breached the complainant's trust. She went so far as to file multiple criminal cases for violation
of B.P. Blg. 22 against him. "The relationship of an attorney to his client is highly fiduciary. Canon 15 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility provides that 'a lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and
transactions with his client.' Necessity and public interest enjoin lawyers to be honest and truthful when dealing with
his client."[32]

All told, this Court finds that the respondent is liable for violation of Canons 15,[33] 17,[34] Rule 18.04,[35] and Rule
16.04[36] of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Likewise, he is also liable under Rule 1.01[37] thereof pursuant
to our ruling in Co v. Atty. Bernardino.[38]

Layos v. Villanueva, A.C. No. 8085, Dec. 1, 2014;

FACTS:
In the Sumbong, it was alleged that respondent is complainant's counsel of record in Criminal Case No. 7367-B
pending before the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna, Branch 24 (RTC), wherein the former's constant failure to
appear during court hearings resulted in the RTC's issuance of an Order[2] dated June 26, 2003 (June 26, 2003
Order) waiving the defense's right to cross-examine a prosecution witness. Despite the issuance of such order,
respondent remained absent and thus, complainant was only able to move for reconsideration,[3] thru respondent,
only four (4) years later, or on April 21, 2007, which was denied in an Order[4] dated June 21, 2007. Aggrieved,
complainant, also thru respondent, filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA), docketed as CA-G.R.
SP No. 101274.[5]

respondent denied being remiss in his duty as complainant's counsel. He averred that during the hearing on April 4,
2002 where the criminal case was supposed to be amicably settled, his car broke down and thus, he was unable to
attend the hearing. After his car was fixed, he decided to go back to his office and asked his secretary to call
complainant to know what happened in the said hearing. However, respondent was unable to contact complainant and
that he never heard from the latter for a long time. Respondent claimed that he no longer received any notices from
the RTC, and thus, he assumed that the amicable settlement pushed through and that the case was dismissed
already.[9]Finally, respondent averred that he had a hard time locating complainant who was not at his home address
and was staying at his workplace in Carmona, Cavite. According to respondent, this caused him to advance the filing

18
fees and other expenses of complainant's cases, not to mention that the latter has failed to pay the agreed
appearance fees and attorney's fees due him.[

ISSUE:
Whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for the acts complained of.

RULING:
Under Canon 17 and Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the CPR, it is the lawyer's duty to serve his client's interest
with utmost zeal, candor and diligence. As such, he must keep abreast of all the developments in his client's case and
should inform the latter of the same, as it is crucial in maintaining the latter's confidence, to wit:

CANON 17 A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF
THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.

CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

xxxx

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

Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a
reasonable time to client's request for information.

As an officer of the court, it is the duty of an attorney to inform his client of whatever important information he may
have acquired affecting his client's case. He should notify his client of any adverse decision to enable his client to
decide whether to seek an appellate review thereof. Keeping the client informed of the developments of the case will
minimize misunderstanding and loss of trust and confidence in the attorney. The lawyer should not leave the client in
the dark on how the lawyer is defending the client's interests. In this connection, the lawyer must constantly keep in
mind that his actions, omissions, or nonfeasance would be binding upon his client. As such, the lawyer is expected to
be acquainted with the rudiments of law and legal procedure, and a client who deals with him has the right to expect
not just a good amount of professional learning and competence but also a whole-hearted fealty to the client's cause.
[22]

In the case at bar, records reveal that since missing the April 4, 2002 hearing due to car trouble, respondent no
longer kept track of complainant's criminal case and merely assumed that the same was already amicably settled and
terminated. Thereafter, when respondent finally knew that the case was still on-going, he attended the November 15,
2005 hearing, and discovered the RTC's issuance of the June 26, 2003 Order which is prejudicial to complainant's
cause. Despite such alarming developments, respondent did not immediately seek any remedy to further the interests
of his client. Instead, he passively relied on the representations of the court employees that they would send him a
copy of the aforesaid Order. Worse, when he finally secured a copy on April 4, 2006, it still took him over a year, or
until April 21, 2007, just to move the RTC to reconsider its June 26, 2003 Order. Naturally, the RTC and the CA denied
the motion for being filed way beyond the reglementary period, to the detriment of complainant. Clearly, respondent
failed to exercise such skill, care, and diligence as men of the legal profession commonly possess and exercise in such
matters of professional employment.

It must be stressed that public interest requires that an attorney exert his best efforts in the prosecution or defense of
a client's cause. A lawyer who performs that duty with diligence and candor not only protects the interests of his
client, he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the community to
the legal profession. Lawyers are indispensable part of the whole system of administering justice in this jurisdiction. At
a time when strong and disturbing criticisms are being hurled at the legal profession, strict compliance with one's oath
of office and the canons of professional ethics is an imperative.

Tejano v. Baterina, A.C. No. 8235, Jan. 27, 2015;


Facts
Joselito F. Tejano filed an Affidavit-Complaint before the Office of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court
against his counsel, Atty. Baterina “miserably failed to advance [his] cause”, and Judge Dominador Arquelada of
acting in conspiracy to take possession of his property, which was the subject matter of litigation in the judge’s court.
19
The Court required Atty. Baterina to file a Comment on the complaint to which he explained that he had been
recuperating from a kidney transplant when he received a copy of the complaint.
The Court, found Atty. Baterina’s explanation “not satisfactory” and admonished him “to be more heedful of the
Court’s directives” and referred the case to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation, which found
sufficient ground for disciplinary action against Atty. Baterina.
Issue: w/n Atty Baterina liable for gross negligence in his duty as counsel to his client
RULING:

The Code of Professional Responsibility governing the conduct of lawyers states:


CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

xxxx

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

RULE 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a
reasonable time to the client's request for information.

Lawyers have a "fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients," and must act "in
accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility."[24]

When a lawyer agrees to take up a client's cause, he makes a commitment to exercise due diligence in protecting the
latter's rights. Once a lawyer's services are engaged, "he is duty bound to serve his client with competence, and to
attend to his client's cause with diligence, care and devotion regardless of whether he accepts it for a fee or for free.
He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him."[25] A
lawyer's acceptance to take up a case "impliedly stipulates [that he will] carry it to its termination, that is, until the
case becomes final and executory."[26]

Atty. Baterina's duty to his clients did not automatically cease with his suspension. At the very least, such suspension
gave him a concomitant responsibility to inform his clients that he would be unable to attend to their case and advise
them to retain another counsel.

A lawyer even one suspended from practicing the profession owes it to his client to not "sit idly by and leave the rights
of his client in a state of uncertainty."[27] The client "should never be left groping in the dark" and instead must be
"adequately and fully informed about the developments in his case."[28]

Atty. Baterina practically abandoned this duty when he allowed the proceedings to run its course without any effort to
safeguard his clients' welfare in the meantime. His failure to file the required pleadings on his clients' behalf
constitutes gross negligence in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility[29] and renders him subject to
disciplinary action.[30] The penalties for a lawyer's failure to file the required brief or pleading range from warning,
reprimand, fine, suspension, or in grave cases, disbarment.[31]

Further, Atty. Baterina's reckless disregard for orders and directives of the courts is unbecoming of a member of the
Bar. His conduct has shown that he has little respect for rules, court processes, and even for the Court's disciplinary
authority. Not only did he fail to follow the trial court's orders in his clients' case, he even disregarded court orders in
his own disciplinary proceedings.

Considering Atty. Baterina's medical condition at that time, a simple explanation to the Court would have sufficed.
Instead, however, he simply let the orders go unheeded, neglecting his duty to the Court.

Lawyers, as this Court has previously emphasized, "are particularly called upon to obey court orders and processes
and are expected to stand foremost in complying with court directives being themselves officers of the court."[32] As
such, Atty. Baterina should "know that a resolution of this Court is not a mere request but an order which should be
complied with promptly and completely.

Nonato v. Fudolin, A.C. No. 10138, Jun. 16, 2015;


Fact: The complainant alleged that his father, the late Restituto Nonato (Restituto), was the duly registered owner of
a property that became the subject of ejectment proceedings filed by Restituto against Anselmo Tubongbanua
( Anselmo), before the MTC. The complainant alleged that although his father Restituto paid the respondent his
20
acceptance fees, no formal retainer agreement was executed. The respondent also did not issue any receipts for the
acceptance fees paid. The complainant asserted that during the pendency of the ejectment proceedings before the
MTC, the respondent failed to fully inform his father Restituto of the status and developments in the case. Restituto
could not contact the respondent despite his continued efforts. The respondent also failed to furnish Restituto copies
of the pleadings, motions and other documents filed with the court. Thus, Restituto and the complainant were
completely left in the dark regarding the status of their case. After an exchange of initial pleadings in the ejectment
proceedings, the MTC ordered the parties to submit their respective position papers. Since neither party complied with
the court’s directive, the MTC dismissed the complaint. The respondent filed a motion for reconsideration from the
order of dismissal. He justified his failure to file the position paper by arguing that he misplaced the case records,
adding that he was also burdened with numerous other cases. The MTC denied the motion. Because of the patent
negligence, the complainant informed the respondent that his failure to file the position paper could be a ground for
his disbarment. Furthermore, the complainant, without the respondent’s intervention, entered into an oral
extrajudicial compromise with the daughter of defendant Anselmo. In 2007, the respondent wrote the complainant
and apologized for his repeated failure to communicate with him. He reasoned out that he failed to file the position
paper due to his poor health. He also claimed that he had suffered a stroke and had become partially blind, which
caused the delay in the preparation of the pleadings in the ejectment case. The Investigating Commissioner
recommended the respondent’s suspension for one (1) month from the practice of law.

Issue: Whether the respondent failure to execute his duty due to his health condition is an inexcusable violation of
his Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Held:

A lawyer is bound to protect his client's interests to the best of his ability and with utmost diligence.[6] He should
serve his client in a conscientious, diligent, and efficient manner; and provide the quality of service at least equal to
that which he, himself, would expect from a competent lawyer in a similar situation. By consenting to be his client's
counsel, a lawyer impliedly represents that he will exercise ordinary diligence or that reasonable degree of care and
skill demanded by his profession, and his client may reasonably expect him to perform his obligations diligently.
[7] The failure to meet these standards warrants the imposition of disciplinary action.

In this case, the record clearly shows that the respondent has been remiss in the performance of his duties as
Restituto's counsel. His inaction on the matters entrusted to his care is plainly obvious. He failed to file his position
paper despite notice from the MTC requiring him to do so. His omission greatly prejudiced his client as the Court in
fact dismissed the ejectment suit.

In addition, the respondent failed to inform Restituto and the complainant of the status of the case. His failure to file
the position paper, and to inform his client of the status of the case, not only constituted inexcusable negligence; but
it also amounted to evasion of duty.[8]All these acts violate the Code of Professional Responsibility warranting the
court's imposition of disciplinary action. The pertinent provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility provide:
Canon 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed in him.

Canon 18 - A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.

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

Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within
a reasonable time to the client's request for information.

Because a lawyer-client relationship is one of trust and confidence, there is a need for the client to be adequately and
fully informed about the developments in his case. A client should never be left groping in the dark; to allow this
situation is to destroy the trust, faith, and confidence reposed in the retained lawyer and in the legal profession in
general.[13]

The respondent has apparently failed to measure up to these required standards. He neglected to file the required
position paper, and did not give his full commitment to maintain and defend his client's interests. Aside from failing to
file the required pleading, the respondent never exerted any effort to inform his client of the dismissal of the
ejectment case.

We also find the respondent's excuse - that he had an undetected stroke and was suffering from other illnesses -

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unsatisfactory and merely an afterthought. Even assuming that he was then suffering from numerous health problems
(as evidenced by the medical certificates he attached), his medical condition cannot serve as a valid reason to excuse
the omission to file the necessary court pleadings. The respondent could have requested an extension of time to file
the required position paper, or at the very least, informed his client of his medical condition; all these, the respondent
failed to do.

Furthermore, the respondent's subsequent filing of successive pleadings (after the ejectment case had been
dismissed) significantly weakens his health-based excuse. His efforts not only contradict his explanation that his
physical predicament forced him to focus on his illnesses; they also indicate that his illnesses (allegedly "Hypertensive
Cardiovascular Disease, Atrial Fibrillation, Intermittent, and Diabetes Mellitus Type II") were not at all incapacitating.

All told, we find that the respondent violated Canon 17, Canon 18, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. We, however, find the IBP's recommended penalty (one (1) month suspension from the
practice of law) to be a mere slap on the wrist considering the gravity of the infractions committed. Thus, we deem it
appropriate to impose the penalty of two (2) years suspension, taking into account the respondent's acts and
omissions, as well as the consequence of his negligence.

Enriquez v. Lavadia, A.C. No. 5686, Jun. 16, 2015;

FACTS:
On March 18, 2000: Atty. Lavadia agreed to submit their position papers and affidavits within 30 days from the
receipt of the pre-trial order after which, the case would be submitted for decision. However, Atty. Lavadia failed to
file the position paper resulting in the defendants being declared default. The MCTC rendered a decision in favor of the
plaintiffs.
Atty. Lavadia filed a notice of appeal with sufficient bond but was dismissed it based on Section 7(b) Rule 40 of the
ROC.
Atty. Lavadia failed to file the appeal of memorandum after more than 71 days. He moved for reconsideration but the
same was denied by the RTC in its order pointing out that it had granted four motions for extension and still no
memorandum was filed.
Hence this disbarment complaint. Atty. Lavadia in failing to file the necessary pleadings before the court, he caused
them great damage and prejudice. This constituted gross negligence and inefficiency in the performance of his
professional duties as a lawyer.
The Court required Atty. Lavadia to submit his comment but he failed to do so saying that it’s due to his heavy case
load and family problems. The court kept on giving him extensions but Atty. Lavadia NEVER EVER SUBMITTED HIS
COMMENT. The Court then asked Atty. Lavadia to show cause why he should not be held in contempt and to submit
his comment within 10 days from notice, still he failed to comply. A fine of Php 1,000.00 was imposed upon him.
He paid the fine and asked for extension because of the “dark beings” surrounding his family. The court granted this
but still he DID NOT SUBMIT ANYTHING (gahd annoyed na annoyed na rin ako sa kanya legit). The court again
imposed a fine of Php 2,000.00 and referred the case to the IBP.
The IBP recommended that Atty. Lavadia be disbarred. They found that not only did Atty. Lavadia cause material
prejudice to his clients by neglecting his duties as counsel in failing to file the necessary pleadings to defend his
client’s interest, he also displayed a willful, defiant and cavalier attitude by repeatedly defying the resolutions
of the Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Lavadia should be disbarred?

HELD:
YES. The present complaint was filed January 2002. We granted Atty. Lavadia every opportunity to file his comment
to the complaint. We issued no less than eight resolutions ordering Atty. Lavadia to comment: two of which ordered
him to pay fines of P1,000.00 and P2,000.00 and requiring him to show cause for his failure to file and to comply with
the Court’s resolutions. In fine, we have granted him a total of 155 days extension to file his comment, in response
to his repeated pleas contained in his numerous ex parte motions. After a lapse of eight years, this Court referred the
case to the IBP where Atty. Lavadia once again filed a motion for extension to file his position paper but nevertheless
failed to file the same.

While this Court is not unsympathetic to the plight of Atty. Lavadia, we cannot countenance his act of repeatedly
pleading for extensions of time and yet not submitting anything to the Court. This reflects his willful disregard for
Court orders putting in question his suitability to discharge his duties and functions as a lawyer.

We cannot stress enough that being a lawyer is a privilege with attached duties and obligations. Lawyers bear the
responsibility to meet the profession’s exacting standards. A lawyer is expected to live by the lawyer’s oath, the rules
of the profession and the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). The duties of a lawyer may be classified into four
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general categories namely duties he owes to the court, to the public, to the bar and to his client. A lawyer who
transgresses any of his duties is administratively liable and subject to the Court’s disciplinary authority.

Notes:

In the present case, the duties transgressed by Atty. Lavadia fall under those duties to his client and to the court. This
Court notes Atty. Lavadia’s propensity for filing motions for extension of time to file pleadings but failing to file the
same, in violation of Rule 12.03 of the CPR which states:

Rule 12.03. – A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let
the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so.

A lawyer is expected to serve his client with competence and diligence. Lawyers are reminded to note Rules 12.03 and
18.03 of the CPR:

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

Francisco v. Flores, A.C. No. 10753;

Gimena v. Sabio, A.C. No. 7178, Aug. 23, 2016)


FACTS:

Complainant is the president and general manager of the company. 2 In his Complaint3 dated March 7, 2006, he
narrated that he engaged the legal services of respondent in relation to a case for illegal dismissa l 4 filed against him
and the company. All the pleadings and orders were directed to respondent because the company no longer had
active presence in Bacolod, save for the stockpile of construction equipment found in Barangay
Mansilingan.5Sometime in February 2000, complainant signed the verification page of the position paper for the case
and sent it to respondent for his signature. However, respondent filed the position paper without signing it. 6 The labor
arbiter noticed the unsigned pleading and directed respondent to sign it within 10 days from notice. 7 Respondent did
not comply with the directive.

In a Decision8 dated October 21, 2004, the labor arbiter ruled against the company and noted that: "[the company J
filed an unsigned position paper which cannot be considered as such. Despite the order to Atty. Salvador Sabio to sign
said position paper, the order was deemed to have been taken for granted " 9

Respondent received a copy of the Decision on January 13, 2005 but he did not notify complainant about it.

In his Comment,14 respondent countered that complainant engaged his services in 2000. Complainant, however, did
not pay the expenses and attorney's fees for the preparation and filing of the position paper in the amount of
₱20,000.00.15 The lack of payment contributed to respondent's oversight in the filing of the unsigned position
paper.16 Respondent also insisted that the unfavorable Decision of the labor arbiter is based on the merits and not due
to default.17 Respondent further explained that he was not able inform complainant of the outcome of the case
because he does not know the address of the company after it allegedly abandoned its place of business in Barangay
Mansilingan, without leaving any forwarding address. 18 Respondent claimed that complainant only communicated to
him when the writ of execution was issued on July 27, 2005. 19 He faulted complainant and the company for being
remiss in their legal obligation to be in constant communication with him as to the status of the case. 20

Moreover, respondent averred that the filing of the administrative case against him is tainted with ill will to
compensate for complainant's failure to post a bond to stay the writ of execution and the sale of the construction
equipment levied upon.21 Respondent submitted that if it were true that he was negligent in the handling of the case,
then why did complainant, the company and the third party claimants still avail ofhis services as attorney-in-fact in
the auction sale?22

ISSUE:

Whether respondent should be held administratively liable for the acts complained of.
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RULING:
Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (the "Code") mandates that a lawyer shall serve his client with
competence and diligence. Corollarily, Rule 18.03 directs that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to
him.47 He must exercise the diligence of a good father of a family with respect to the case that he is handling. This is
true whether he accepted the case for free or in consideration of a fee.

A lawyer is presumed to be prompt and diligent in the performance of his obligations and in the protection of his
client's interest and in the discharge of his duties as an officer of the court. 48 Here, however, this presumption is
overturned by clear and convincing evidence that respondent was grossly negligent as counsel of the company and
complainant in the case.

Every law student is taught that an unsigned pleading creates no legal effect, such that the party may be deemed not
to have filed a pleading at all. Yet, respondent, a long standing legal practitioner, did not sign a position paper that he
filed in a labor suit allegedly due to oversight. What more, he claimed that his client's failure to pay legal expenses
and attorney's fees contributed to such oversight. These actuations of respondent demean the legal profession.
Lawyering is not primarily concerned with money-making; rather, public service and administration of justice are the
tenets of the profession.49 Due to respondent's negligence, the labor arbiter did not consider the position paper of the
company and the complainant. This circumstance deprived the company of the chance to explain its side of the
controversy - an unfortunate incident brought about by its own counsel.

Respondent's inattention is further highlighted by his disobedience to the labor arbiter's directive that he sign the
position paper. His conduct evinces a willful disregard to his duty as officer of the court. This alone warrants the
imposition of administrative liability.

Respondent's irresponsibility went beyond the unsigned pleading and refusal to obey court orders; he also admittedly
failed to apprise the company and the complainant of the adverse decision against them. He even had the audacity to
place the blame on his client for not communicating to him as regards the status of the case. He furthermore justified
his omission by saying that he was not aware of the address of the company. The foregoing excuses should be
rejected. As the IBP correctly observed, respondent overlooked the attached affidavit of the complainant in the
unsigned position paper, which clearly indicates that the principal office address of the company is at Quirino Highway,
Sacred Heart Village IV, Novaliches, Caloocan City. 50 Respondent himself had notarized the affidavit. 51 Thus, contrary
to his contention, it appears from the records that he was fully aware of the address of the company. There was no
justifiable reason for him not to notify complainant and the company of the adverse decision against them.

Respondent's conduct is inconsistent with Rule 18.04 of the Code, which requires that "[a] lawyer shall keep the client
informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client's request for information."

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