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Del Mundo v. Atty. Capistrano (A.C.

6903, APRIL 2012)


FACTS:

An administrative complaint for disbarment filed by complainant Suzette Del Mundo charging
respondent Atty. Arnel C. Capistrano of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility.On
January 8, 2005, Suzette and her friend Ricky S. Tuparan engaged the legal services of Atty.
Capistrano to handle the judicial declaration of nullity of their respective marriages allegedly for a
fee of PhP140,000.00 each. On the same date, a Special Retainer Agreement2 was entered into by
and between Suzette and Atty. Capistrano which required an acceptance fee of PhP30,000.00,
appearance fee of PhP2,500.00 per hearing and another PhP2,500.00 per pleading. In addition,
Atty. Capistrano allegedly advised her to prepare an additional amount as payment for the filing
fee, summons, fiscals, psychiatrist and commissioner.In accordance with their agreement, Suzette
gave Atty. Capistrano the total amount of PhP78,500.00.For every payment that Suzette made, she
would inquire from Atty. Capistrano on the status of her case. In response, the latter made her
believe that the two cases were already filed before the Regional Trial Court of Malabon City and
awaiting notice of hearing. She verified her case from the Clerk of Court of Malabon and
discovered that no petition has yet been filed for her. Suzette called for a conference where she
demanded the refund of the total amount of PhP78,500.00, but Atty. Capistrano instead offered to
return the amount of PhP63,000.00 on staggered basis claiming to have incurred expenses in the
filing of Tuparans case, to which she agreed.However, Atty. Capistrano only returned the amount
of PhP5,000.00 thereafter, refused to communicate with her.
In the Report and Recommendation dated April 11, 2007, the IBP-CBD, through Commissioner
Quisumbing, found that Atty. Capistrano had neglected his clients interest by his failure to inform
Suzette of the status of her case and to file the agreed petition for declaration of nullity of
marriage. It also concluded that his inability to refund the amount he had promised Suzette
showed deficiency in his moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Atty. Arnel C. Capistrano violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.

HELD:

Yes. Atty. Capistrano committed acts in violation of his sworn duty as a member of the bar. In his
Manifestation and Petition for Review,he himself admitted liability for his failure to act on
Suzettes case as well as to account and return the funds she entrusted to him. He only pleaded for
the mitigation of his penalty citing the lack of intention to breach his lawyers oath; that this is his
first offense; and that his profession is the only means of his and his familys livelihood. He also
prayed that the adjudged amount of PhP140,000.00 be reduced to PhP73,500.00 representing the
amount of PhP78,500.00 he received less his payment of the sum of PhP5,000.00.Respondent
Atty. Arnel C. Capistrano, having clearly violated Canons 16 and 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.when a lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants that he will exercise due
diligence in protecting the latters rights. Failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and attention
expected of a good father of a family makes the lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed on him by
his client and makes him answerable not just to his client but also to the legal profession, the
courts and society.
The practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who meet the high standards of legal
proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity and fair dealing and should act in
accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Falling short of this standard is subject for discipline by the court by
imposing an appropriate penalty based on the exercise of sound judicial discretion in consideration
of the surrounding facts.
They must perform their fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients,
in accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
respondent Atty. Arnel C. Capistrano, having clearly violated Canons 16 and 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, has SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year with a stern
warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely and he is
ordered to return to Suzette Del Mundo the full amount of PhP73,500.00 within 30 days.

JOSELITO F. TEJANO vs. ATTY. BENJAMIN F. BATERINA, A.C. No. 8235,


January 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.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 Court adopts the IBP’s report and recommendation, with modification as
to the penalty.The Code of Professional Responsibility governing the conduct
of lawyers states:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
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.
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.”