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Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018

Atty. Louie John Lood

63. PNB v. Cedo Re: Spouses Ponciano and Eufemia Almeda

Facts: In one of the hearings of the Almeda spouses' case, respondent attended the same
with his partner Atty. Ferrer, and although he did not enter his appearance, he was practically
Atty. Telesforo S. Cedo, former Asst. Vice-President of the Asset Management dictating to Atty. Ferrer what to say and argue before the court.
Group of complainant bank with violation of Canon 6, Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, thus: Assuming arguendo that the alleged set-up of the firm is true, it is in itself a violation
of the CPR (Rule 15.02) since the client’s secrets and confidential records and information
A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in are exposed to the other lawyers and staff members at all times.
connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service.
IBP found a deliberate intent on the part of respondent to devise ways and means
by appearing as counsel for individuals who had transactions with complainant bank in which
to attract as clients former borrowers of complainant bank since he was in the best position to
respondent during his employment with aforesaid bank, had intervened.
see the legal weaknesses of his former employer, a convincing factor for the said clients to
Re: Mrs. Ong Siy seek his professional service.

Complainant averred that while respondent was still in its employ, he participated IBP recommends suspension from practice of law for 3 years.
in arranging the sale of steel sheets in favor of Milagros Ong Siy for P200,000. He even "noted"
SC Ruling:
the gate passes issued by his subordinate, Mr. Emmanuel Elefan, in favor of Mrs. Ong Siy
authorizing the pull-out of the steel sheets from the DMC Man Division Compound. When a The foregoing disquisition on conflicting interest applies with equal force and effect
civil action arose out of this transaction between Mrs. Ong Siy and complainant bank before to respondent in the case at bar. Having been an executive of complainant bank,
the RTC, respondent who had since left the employ of complainant bank, appeared as one of respondent now seeks to litigate as counsel for the opposite side, a case against his
the counsels of Mrs. Ong Siy. former employer involving a transaction which he formerly handled while still an
employee of complainant, in violation of Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics on
Re: Spouses Ponciano and Eufemia Almeda
adverse influence and conflicting interests, to wit:
While respondent was still the Asst. Vice President of complainant’s Asset It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express conflicting consent of
Management Group, he intervened in the handling of the loan account of the spouses with all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer
complainant bank by writing demand letters to the couple. When a civil action ensued between represents conflicting interest when, in behalf on one client, it is his duty to contend for that
complainant bank and the Almeda spouses as a result of this loan account, the latter were which duty to another client requires him to oppose.
represented by the law firm "Cedo, Ferrer, Maynigo & Associates" of which respondent is one
of the Senior Partners.

Respondent’s Reply

Respondent admitted that he appeared as counsel for Mrs. Ong Siy but only with
respect to the execution pending appeal of the RTC decision. He alleged that he did not
participate in the litigation of the case before the trial court. With respect to the case of the
Almeda spouses, respondent alleged that he never appeared as counsel for them. The case
was handled by another lawyer, Atty. Pedro Ferrer. Each of the partners handle their own
cases (he said this is not a general partnership)

IBP Report

Re: Milagros Ong Siy

Petitioner was already previously filed of forum shopping

Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

64. Quiambao v. Bamba Respondent guilty of representing conflicting interests due to the ff. instances:

Facts:  Atty. Bamba was still Felicita’s counsel of record in the ejectment case when he
filed, as legal counsel of AIB, the replevin case against her
Felicitas S. Quiambao charged Atty. Nestor A. Bamba with violation of the Code of  Atty. Bamba was still the legal counsel of AIB when he advised the complainant on
Professional Responsibility for representing conflicting interests when the latter filed a case the incorporation of another security agency, QRMSI
against her while he was at that time representing her in another case, and for committing
other acts of disloyalty and double-dealing. IBP Board of Governiors recommended that Atty. Bamba be given a stern warning (from
suspend from the practice of law for 1 year suggested by IBP Commissioner).
Felicita was the Pres. And Managing Director of Allied Investigation Bureau, Inc.
(AIB). She avers that she procured the legal services of the respondent not only for the Issue:
corporate affairs of AIB but also for her personal case. Particularly, the respondent acted as
her counsel of record in an ejectment case against Spouses Santiago and Florita Torroba. Whether or not Atty. Bamba is guilty of misconduct for representing conflicting
About 6 mos., Felicita resigned respondent filed on behalf of AIB a complaint for replevin and interests in contravention of the basic tenets of the legal profession
damages against her.
SC Ruling:
Re: Disloyalty and double-dealing
Rule 15.03, Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides: "A lawyer shall not
Felicita also charged Atty. Bamba of disloyalty and double-dealing. Respondent represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts."
proposed to her that she organize her own security agency and that he would assist her in its
organization, causing her to resign as president of AIB. The respondent indeed assisted her In the course of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts connected
in December 2000 in the formation of another security agency, Quiambao Risk Management with the client’s case, including the weak and strong points of the case. The nature of that
Specialists, Inc., (QRMSI), which was later registered under complainant’s name, with the relationship is, therefore, one of trust and confidence of the highest degree.
respondent as a "silent partner" represented by his associate Atty. Gerardo P. Hernandez. He
also planned to "steal" or "pirate" some of the more important clients of AIB. In broad terms, lawyers are deemed to represent conflicting interests when, in
behalf of one client, it is their duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires
While serving as legal counsel for AIB and a "silent partner" of QRMSI, he them to oppose
convinced complainant’s brother Leodegario Quiambao to organize another security agency,
San Esteban Security Services, Inc. (SESSI) where he (the respondent) served as its Tests for conflict of interests
incorporator, director, and president. The respondent and Leodegario then illegally diverted
the funds of AIB to fund theincorporation of SESSI, and likewise planned to eventually close  One test is whether a lawyer is duty-bound to fight for an issue or claim in behalf of
down the operations of AIB and transfer the business to SESSI one client and, at the same time, to oppose that claim for the other client.12 Thus,
if a lawyer’s argument for one client has to be opposed by that same lawyer in
Respondent’s Reply: arguing for the other client, there is a violation of the rule.
 Another test would be whether the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the
 He denied that he represented complainant as her “personal lawyer” and avers that
full discharge of the lawyer’s duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or
he was made to believe that it was part of his function as counsel for AIB to handle
invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty.
even the "personal cases" of its officers.
 Another test is whether the lawyer would be called upon in the new relation to use
 Ejectment and replevin cases were unrelated cases involving different issues and against a former client any confidential information acquired through their
connection or previous employment
 Complainant insisted that he be her counsel despite the perceived differences
among her, her brother, and AIB over the motor vehicle subject of the replevin case Re: replevin case
 He did not agree to be a “silent partner” of QRMSI (he declined offer and suggested
Atty. Hernandez instead) His contention that ejectment and replevin cases have different subject matter and
 He did not convince complainant’s brother to organize another security agency and parties is without merit.
that the funds of AIB were unlawfully diverted to SESSI (It was to complement the
business of AIB, which was then in danger of collapse, that SESSI was established) His representation of opposing clients in both cases, though unrelated, obviously
 He serves AIB and SESSI in different capacities: as legal counsel of the former and constitutes conflict of interest or, at the least, invites suspicion of double-dealing. While the
as president of the latter. respondent may assert that the complainant expressly consented to his continued
representation in the ejectment case, the respondent failed to show that he fully disclosed the
IBP Report
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

facts to both his clients and he failed to present any written consent of the complainant and
AIB as required under Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the CPR.
65. Dr. Teresita Lee v. Atty Amador L. Simando

Dr. Lee then accused Atty. Simando of violating the trust and confidence which she gave upon him as her
Re: SESSI lawyer, and even took advantage of their professional relationship in order to get a loan for his client. Worse,
when the said obligation became due, respondent was unwilling to help her to favour Mejorado. Thus, the
Since the respondent has financial or pecuniary interest in SESSI one cannot help instant petition for disbarment against Atty. Simando
entertaining a doubt on his loyalty to his client AIB. This kind of situation passes the second
test of conflict of interest, which is whether the acceptance of a new relationship would prevent
the full discharge of the lawyer’s duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite Atty. Simando was the retained counsel of complainant Dr. Lee.
suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty.
Atty. Simando went to see Dr. Lee and asked if the latter could help a certain Felicito
WHEREFORE, Atty. Bamba is suspended for 1 year. M. Mejorado (Mejorado) for his needed funds. He claimed that Mejorado was then awaiting
the release of his claim for informer's reward from the Bureau of Customs. Because Dr. Lee
did not know Mejorado personally and she claimed to be not in the business of lending money,
the former initially refused to lend money. But Atty. Simando allegedly persisted and assured
her that Mejorado will pay his obligation and will issue postdated checks and sign promissory
notes. He allegedly even offered to be the co-maker of Mejorado and assured her that
Mejorado's obligation will be paid when due. Atty. Simando was quoted saying: "Ipapahamak
ba kita, kliyente kita"; "Sigurado ito, kung gusto mo, gagarantiyahan ko pa ito, at pipirma din
ako"; "Isang buwan lang, at hindi hihigit sa dalawang buwan ito, bayad ka na."

Dr. Lee gave in to Atty. Simado’s request since the latter was persistent and keeps
visiting her.

When the said obligation became due, despite Dr. Lee's repeated demands,
Mejorado failed and refused to comply with his obligation. Since Atty. Simando was still her
lawyer then, Dr. Lee instructed him to initiate legal action against Mejorado. However, even
after several months, Mejorado still failed to pay Dr. Lee, so she again asked Atty. Simando
why no payment has been made yet. Dr. Lee then reminded Atty. Simando that he was
supposed to be the co-maker of the obligation of Mejorado, to which he replied: "Di kasuhan
din ninyo ako!"

Despite complainant's repeated requests, respondent ignored her and failed to

bring legal actions against Mejorado

Respondent’s reply

 Respondent denied his liability as a co-maker and claimed that novation had
occurred because complainant had allegedly given additional loans to Mejorado
without his knowledge.
 Complainant was the one who initiated the financial transaction between her and
 Atty. Simando stressed that Dr. Lee gave Mejorado a total of Php700,000.00 as an
investment but he signed as co-maker in all the receipts showing double the amount
or Php1,400,000.00.
 Complainant never instructed him to file legal action, since the latter knew that
Mejorado is obligated to pay only upon receipt of his informer's reward.
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

 Atty. Simando insisted that he did not violate their lawyerclient relationship, since 66. Santos v. Beltran
Dr. Lee voluntarily made the financial investment with Mejorado and that he merely
introduced complainant to Mejorado. Facts:
 No conflict of interest because he is Mejorado's lawyer relative to the latter's claim
Spouses Filomeno Santiago Santos, Sr. and Benita Roxas Rodriguez had 10
for informer's reward, and not Mejorado's lawyer against Dr. Lee. He reiterated that
children, namely, Romeo, Filomeno, Jr., Arturo, Erlinda, Ma. Alicia, Arcely, Renato, Alberto
there is no conflicting interest as there was no case between Mejorado and Dr. Lee
and Benito and complainant Rogelio Santos, Sr. After the death of Filomeno, Benita donated
that he is handling for both of them
their 2 residential lots in favor of the 9 children, except complainant. Beltran nitarized the
IBP Ruling: Deed of Donation.

IBP-CBD found Atty. Simando guilty of violating the CPR. It recommended that Benita Rodriguez died. Complainant and his brother, Alberto, were appointed
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for 6 months. administrators in the intestate proceeding for the settlement of the spouses’ estate.

Thereafter, respondent filed for a motion for reconsideration and was granted by Rogelio Santos filed a verified complaint against respondent before IBP-CBD,
IBP Board of Governors. Case against respondent was then dismissed for lack of sufficient alleging that when respondent notarized the subject Deed of Donation, his siblings did not
evidence to warrant suspension. personally appear before him.

SC Ruling: Santos further alleged that respondent appeared as private prosecutor for
falsification of public document, which he filed against Renato and Benito, without being
Clearly, it is improper for respondent to appear as counsel for one party (complainant as engaged by him or authorized by the court; that respondent represented conflicting interest
creditor) against the adverse party (Mejorado as debtor) who is also his client, since a lawyer when he entered his appearance as defense counsel in an ejectment case in which his former
is prohibited from representing conflicting interests. client, Erlinda R. Santos-Crawford, was the plaintiff; and that respondent, through insidious
machination acquired the titles of 2 residential lots at Villa Benita Subdivision owned by
 It is undisputed that there was a lawyer-client relationship between complainant and Spouses Filomeno and Benita Santos.
Atty. Simando as evidenced by the retainer fees received by respondent and the
latter's representation in certain legal matters pertaining to complainant's business Respondent’s Reply
 Atty. Simando admitted that Mejorado is another client of him
 Denied having represented complaint of Santos when he appeared as a private
 Simando admitted that he was the one who introduced complainant and Mejorado
to each other for the purpose of entering into a financial transaction while having
knowledge that complainant's interests could possibly run in conflict with Mejorado's  Denied having acquired any property under litigation
interests which ironically such client's interests, he is duty-bound to protect;  Represented Erlinda Crawford or ejectment filed by Rogelio Santos on behalf of
 Despite knowledge of conflicting interests between his 2 clients, respondent Erlinda R. Santos involving the same property. He emphasized that the decision
consented in the parties' agreement and even signed as co-maker to the loan had long been executed, thus the attorney-client relationship between him and
agreement Erlinda Santos-Crawford was also terminated.

It must be stressed that the proscription against representation of conflicting interests IBP Ruling:
finds application where the conflicting interests arise with respect to the same general matter
Respondent guilty of violating his notarial commission and recommended that his
however slight the adverse interest may be. It applies even if the conflict pertains to the
commission be suspended for a period of one year.
lawyer’s private activity or in the performance of a function in a non-professional capacity. In
the process of determining whether there is a conflict of interest, an important criterion is SC Ruling:
probability, not certainty, of conflict.
Re: Notarized Deed of Donation (in favour of respondent)
Atty. Simando also guilty of violating Rule 21.01 of the CPR. In his last-ditch effort to
impeach the credibility of complainant, he divulged informations which he acquired in The rule is that a notarized document carries the evidentiary weight conferred upon
confidence during the existence of their lawyer-client relationship. it with respect to its due execution, and documents acknowledged before a notary public have
in their favor the presumption of regularity. In the instant case, complainant failed to controvert
WHEREFORE, Atty. Amador L. Simando is suspended for 6 months from the practice the said presumption by clear and convincing evidence.
of law.
Instead, the quantum of evidence shows that complainant’s siblings appeared
before the respondent as notary public and in fact, signed the deed.
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

The claim of Renato and Benito Santos in their affidavit that they did not sign the 67. Daging v. Davis
document in the law office of the respondent but in their houses at Villa Benita is admissible
only against them. Facts:

Re: Criminal Case 73569 (in favour of respondent) Complainant was the owner and operator of Nashville Country Music Lounge.

Respondent adequately explained his isolated appearance at one of the hearings. Meanwhile, complainant received a Retainer Proposal3 from Davis & Sabling Law
The transcript of stenographic notes shows that respondent himself was in doubt as to the Office signed by respondent and his partner Atty. Amos Saganib Sabling (Atty. Sabling). This
nature of his appearance in the case. In entering his appearance as private prosecutor, he did eventually resulted in the signing by the complainant, the respondent and Atty. Sabling of a
not intend to represent complainant but only to defend himself from the accusation of Benito Retainer Agreement.
and Renato that he notarized the Deed of Donation in their absence. This was patent in the
transcript of stenographic notes wherein he admitted that he himself was in doubt as to his Because complainant was delinquent in paying the monthly rentals, Pinlac
position. terminated the lease. Together with Novie Balageo (Balageo) and respondent, Pinlac went to
complainant's music bar, inventoried all the equipment therein, and informed her that Balageo
Re: Respondent acquired properties under litigation would take over the operation of the bar. Complainant averred that subsequently respondent
acted as business partner of Balageo in operating the bar under her business name, which
Records show that respondent acquired the property from Fabern’s Inc., and not they later renamed Amarillo Music Bar.
from Spouses Filemon and Benita Santos
Complainant likewise alleged that she filed an ejectment case against Pinlac and
Re: Conflict of interest in Civil Case No. 12105 (Erlinda Crawford – ejectment case) Balageo. At that time, Davis & Sabling Law Office was still her counsel as their Retainer
Agreement remained subsisting and in force. However, respondent appeared as counsel for
Respondent, however appeared as counsel for Evalyn Valino, Norberto Valino and Balageo in that ejectment case.
Danilo Agsaway in Civil Case No. 14823 for ejectment filed by complainant as attorney-in-fact
of Erlinda Santos-Crawford. Civil Case No. 14823, although litigated by complainant, was Respondent’s Reply
actually brought in behalf of and to protect the interest of Erlinda Santos- Crawford.
Respondent’s act of representing the parties against whom his other client, Erlinda Santos-  Balageo is the sole proprietress of the establishment
Crawford, filed suit constituted conflict of interest.  It was Atty. Sabling, his partner, who initiated the proposal and was in fact the one
who was able to convince complainant to accept the law office as her retainer (Davis
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Rodolfo Beltran is found GUILTY of representing never obtained any knowledge or information regarding the business of complainant
conflicting interests and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of 1 year. who used to consult only Atty. Sabling)
 Respondent admitted though having represented Balageo in the ejectment case,
but denied that he took advantage of the Retainer Agreement between complainant
and Davis and Sabling Law Office

IBP Report

Respondent guilty of betrayal of his client's trust and for misuse of information
obtained from his client to the disadvantage of the latter and to the advantage of another
person. He recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period
of 1 year but IBP Board of Governors reduced it to 6 mos.

SC Ruling:

Complainant entered into a Retainer Agreement with respondent's law firm. This
agreement was signed by the respondent and attached to the rollo of this case. And during
the subsistence of said Retainer Agreement, respondent represented and defended Balageo,
who was impleaded as one of the defendants in the ejectment case complainant filed. In fact,
respondent filed on behalf of said Balageo an Answer with Opposition to the Prayer for the
Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction. It was only on August 26, 2005 when respondent
withdrew his appearance for Balageo.
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

Based on the foregoing, it is indubitable that respondent transgressed Rule 15.03 of 68. Gonzales v. Cabucana
Canon 15 of the CPR.
In the contention that it is Atty. Sabling
handling complainant’s case Gonzales was a complainant against Eduard Mangano for a sum of money. She
was represented by the law firm CABUCANA, CABUCANA, DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA
The contention is without merit. LAW OFFICE, with Atty. Edmar Cabucana handling the case and herein respondent as an
associate/partner. Sheriff Romeo Gatcheco, failed to fully implement the writ of execution
A lawyer who takes up the cause of the adversary of the party who has engaged issued in connection with the judgment which prompted Gonzales to file a complaint against
the services of his law firm brings the law profession into public disrepute and suspicion and said Sheriff.
undermines the integrity of justice. Thus, respondent's argument that he never took advantage
of any information acquired by his law firm in the course of its professional dealings with the Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife went to the house of Gonzales; they harassed
complainant, even assuming it to be true, is of no moment. Gonzales and asked her to execute an affidavit of desistance regarding her complaint before
this Court; Gonzales thereafter filed against the Gatchecos criminal cases for trespass, grave
Undeniably aware of the fact that complainant is a client of his law firm, respondent threats, grave oral defamation, simple coercion and unjust vexation. Gonzales was still
should have immediately informed both the complainant and Balageo that he, as well as the represented by the same law firm.
other members of his law firm, cannot represent any of them in their legal tussle; otherwise,
they would be representing conflicting interests abd would violate the CPR. The respondent Cabucana represented the Gatchecos in the cases (both criminal
and civil) filed by Gonzales against said spouses.

Atty. Marcelino Cabcana’s answer

 It was his brother Atty. Edmar Cabucana who represented Gonzales in the civil case
 He admitted to representing Gatcheco and his wife but claimed that his appearance
is pro bono and that the spouses pleaded with him as no other counsel was
willing to take their case (Gatchecos said that the cases filed against them by
Gonzales was instigated by a high ranking official that wanted to get even since
they refused to testify in favour of the official)
 Atty. Marcelino added that his appearance as defense counsel for the spouses were
free of charge
 Civil case (against Eduard Mangano) handled by Atty. Edmar was different
and distinct from the criminal case against the spouses

Gonzales Reply to Atty. Marcelino’s answer

 It was not a pro bono case since Atty. Marcelino has his own agenda in offering gis
services to the spouses
 Allegation that Gonzanles was used by a high ranking official is (Judge Ruben
Plata) not true
 That Atty. Marcelino prepared and notarized counter affidavits of the Gatchecos –
Gonzales said that the attack against the judge is an attack at a brother in the
 Atty. Marcelino continues to use the name of De Guzman in their law firm despite
the fact that said partner has already been appointed as Assistant Prosecutor of
Santiago City.

IBP Commissioner
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

When ordered to appear before the IBP Commissioner handling the case, Atty. Marcelino This argument cannot prosper. It is settled that while there may be instances where
presented a sworn affidavit executed by Gonzales withdrawing her complaint against lawyers cannot decline representation they cannot be made to labor under conflict of interest
Atty. Marcelino between a present client and a prospective one.

Respondent made a mistake in the acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo If such was the case, he should have observed the requirements laid down by the
Gatcheco, however, the Commission believes that there was no malice and bad faith in the rules by conferring with the prospective client to ascertain as soon as practicable whether the
said acceptance and this can be shown by the move of the complainant to unilaterally matter would involve a conflict with another client then seek the written consent of all
withdraw the case which she filed against Atty. Marcelino. However, Atty. Marcelino is concerned after a full disclosure of the facts.
reminded to be more careful in the acceptance of cases as conflict of interests might arise.
Re: Gonzales’ Affidavit of Desistance
IBP Board of Governors
Court not bound of the desistance since the present case involves public interest.
 Respondent made a mistake in the acceptance of the administrative case – hence
Atty. Marcelino is only warned and reprimanded
Mitigating circumstances:
 Guilty of violating Rule 15.03 in the case of accepting the criminal case –
Respondent said in his Position Paper that he also acted as counsel in the  Atty. Marcelino represented the Gatchecos pro bono
criminal cases against the Sps. Gatcheco  It was his firm and not him personally who handled the civil case of Gonzales (Atty.
Edmar signed the case under the law firm’s name while respondent signed the
Rule 15.03 – A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interest except by written consent of all pleadings of the Gatchecos only with his name
concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.  No malice and bad faith

Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client’s confidence, but also to WHEREFORE, Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. is FINED the amount of P2,000.00 with a
avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be STERN WARNING that a commission of the same or similar act in the future shall be
encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the dealt with more severely.
administration of justice.

One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new

relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyer’s duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty
to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that

Re: Argument on criminal and civil cases not related

No merit per SC. The representation of opposing clients in said cases, though
unrelated, constitutes conflict of interests or, at the very least, invites suspicion of double
dealing which this Court cannot allow.

Re: Argument that Atty. Edmar was the one who

represented Gonzales in the civil case

SC do not agree. It was their law firm which represented Gonzales in the civil case.
Such being the case, the rule against representing conflicting interests applies.

Re: Claim of respondent that he acted in good faith

The claim of respondent that he acted in good faith and with honest intention will
not excuse him as such claim does not render the prohibition inoperative.

Re: No other layers will take the case of the spouses

Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

Recommendation and action of IBP

69. Josephine L. Orola v. Atty. Joseph Ador Ramos
Re: Violation of Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of the CPR
Complainants are the children of the late Trinidad Laserna-Orola, married to Emilio Respondent was found guilty of representing conflicting interests only with respect
Q. Orola. to Karen (daughter of Maricar) as the records of the cases how that he never acted as counsel
for the other complainants.
Meanwhile, complainant Karen Orola (Karen) is the daughter of Maricar Alba-Orola Respondent failed to obtain the consent of Karen, who was already of age and
(Maricar) and Antonio Orola (Antonio), the deceased brother of the above-named one of the Heirs of Antonio, as mandated under Rule 15.03 of the Code
complainants and the son of Emilio.
Re: Violation of Sec. 20, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court
The parties were represented by the ff.
Complainants themselves admitted that respondent "did not acquire confidential
 Atty. Villa for and in behalf of Josephine, Myrna, Manuel, Mary Angelyn, and information from his former client nor did he use against the latter any knowledge obtained in
Marjorie (Heirs of Trinidad); the course of his previous employment
 Atty. Azarraga as counsel for and in behalf of Maricar, Karen, and the other heirs of
the late Antonio (Heirs of Antonio), with respondent as collaborating counsel IBP recommended that Atty. Joseph be suspended for 6 months.
 Atty. Brotarlo as counsel for and in behalf of Emilio (initially appointed as
administrator of Trinidad’s estate) Issue:

Heirs of Trinidad and Antonio moved for the removal of Emilio as administrator and, in his Whether or not respondent was guilty of conflict of interests
sead, sought the appointment of Manuel (his son), which RTC granted in an RTC Order.
SC Ruling:
Respondent then filed an Entry Appearance as collaborating counsel for Emilio in
Court agrees with the findings of the IBP that respondent is guilty of conflict of
the same case and moved for the reconsideration of the RTC Order.
interests. However, it reduced his suspension to 3 months.
Due to this, complainants filed instant disbarment complaint.
It is explicit that a lawyer is prohibited from representing new clients whose interests
Complainant said oppose those of a former client in any manner, whether or not they are parties in the same
action or on totally unrelated cases. The prohibition is founded on the principles of public policy
 While Maricar, the surviving spouse of Antonio and the mother of Karen, consented and good taste. There is conflict of interest when a lawyer argues for one client, and then this
to the withdrawal of respondent’s appearance, the same was obtained only after he argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client.
had already entered his appearance for Emilio
 Atty. Joseph failed to disclose such fact to ALL heirs affected and as such, was not It must, however, be noted that a lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does
able to obtain their written consent not cover transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client.

Respondent’s Answer Reasons why SC affirmed respondent’s guilt

 He never appeared as counsel for the Heirs of Trinidad or for the Heirs of Antonio.  Records reveal that respondent was the collaborating counsel not only for Maricar
 Heirs of Antonio were exclusively represented by Atty. Azarraga (he averred that as claimed by him, but for all the Heirs of Antonio
he only accommodated Maricar's request to temporarily appear on her behalf as  Both set of Heirs removed Emilio from being administrator. Hence, when
their counsel of record could not attend the scheduled hearings and that his respondent proceeded to represent Emilio for the purpose of seeking his
appearances were free of charge) reinstatement as administrator in the same case, he clearly worked against the very
 He obtained Maricar’s permission for him to withdraw the case as no further interest of the Heirs of Antonio – particularly, Karen
communications transpired after the 2 hearings.
 He consulted Maricar before taking the case of Emilio Re: Respondent’s claim that there was no confidential information relayed to him
 He had no knowledge of the fact that there were also other heirs since Maricar did
This cannot fully excuse him for charges against him for conflict of interests.
not tell him
 Representing Emilio, he was being more of a mediator rather than a litigator
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

70. Lydia Castro-Justo vs. Atty Galing

Re: Representation for the Heirs of Antonio was just a friendly correspondence Facts:

This claim cannot equally be given any credence since the aforesaid rule (on Justo alleged that she engaged the services of respondent Atty. Galing in
conflicts of interest) holds even if the inconsistency is remote or merely probable or even if the connection with dishonored checks issued by Manila City Councilor Arlene W. Koa After she
lawyer has acted in good faith and with no intention to represent conflicting interests.
paid his professional fees, the respondent drafted and sent a letter to Ms. Koa demanding
payment of the checks. Respondent advised complainant to wait for the lapse of the period
Re: Claim that he was a mediator not a litigator
indicated in the demand letter before filing her complaint.
This is without merit. Rule 15.04, Canon 15 of the Code similarly requires the lawyer
to obtain the written consent of all concerned before h may act as mediator, conciliator or Complainant filed a criminal complaint against Koa for estafa and violation of BP
arbitrator in settling disputes. 22. Further, respondent appeared as counsel for Koa.

Re: Reasons why suspension was reduced to 3 months Complainant submits that by representing conflicting interests, respondent violated
the CPR.
 1st – Respondent is a first time offender
 2nd – It is undisputed that respondent only accommodated Maricar’s Respondent’s Reply
 3rd – He had no knowledge that the late Antonio had any other heirs (e.g.,
Karen) hence it can be said that he acted in good faith  He admitted that he drafted a demand letter for complainant but argued that it was
 4th – Complainants admitted that respondent did not acquire confidential made only in deference to their long standing friendship and not by reason of a
information from the Heirs of Antonio nor did he use them professional engagement as professed by complainant
 He did not receive any professional fees
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Joseph Ador Ramos is hereby held GUILTY of  He alleged that complainant, based on their agreement, engaged the services of
representing conflicting interests and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law Atty. Manuel A. Año (To bolster this claim, respondent pointed out that the complaint
for a period of 3 months, with WARNING. filed against Koa was based not on the demand letter he drafted but on the demand
letter prepared by Atty. Manuel A. Año)
 He maintained that the filing of the Motion for Consolidation which is a non-
adversarial pleading does not evidence the existence of a lawyer-client relationship
between him and Ms. Koa and Ms. Torralba.
 His appearance in proceedings are to be construed as assuming the role of a

IBP Report:

Respondent guilty of violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility by representing conflicting interests and for his daring audacity and for the
pronounced malignancy of his act. It was recommended that he be suspended from the
practice of law for 1 year with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be
dealt with more severely.

SC Ruling:

Agrees with the IBP.

It was established that, respondent was approached by complainant regarding the

dishonored checks issued by Manila City Councilor Koa.
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

Respondent argued that no lawyer-client relationship existed between him and complainant 72. Concepcion v. dela Rosa
because there was no professional fee paid for the services he rendered. Moreover, he argued
that he drafted the demand letter only as a personal favor to complainant who is a close friend. Facts:

The Court is not persuaded. Complainants alleged that from 1972 until August 2008, respondent served as their
retained lawyer and counsel. . In this capacity, respondent handled many of their cases and
A lawyer-client relationship can exist notwithstanding the close friendship between was consulted on various legal matters, among others, the prospect of opening a pawnshop
complainant and respondent. The relationship was established the moment complainant business towards the end of 2005.
sought legal advice from respondent regarding the dishonored checks. By drafting the
demand letter respondent further affirmed such relationship. The fact that the demand letter Aware of the fact that complainants had money intact from their failed business
was not utilized in the criminal complaint filed and that respondent was not eventually engaged venture, respondent borrowed the amount of P2,500,000 which he promised to return with
by complainant to represent her in the criminal cases is of no moment. interest after 5 days. Henry, after consulting his wife Blesilda, agreed.

By referring to complainant Justo as "my client" in the demand letter sent to the Respondent failed to pay the complainants. Complainants began demanding
defaulting debtor, respondent admitted the existence of the lawyer-client relationship. payment but respondent merely made repeated promises to pay soon. Blesilda sent a demand
letter to respondent which the latter did not heed. Complainants, through their new counsel
Re: Non-payment of professional fees Atty. Dela Serna, sent another demand letter to respondent.

Non-payment of professional fee will not exculpate respondent from liability. Respondent’s Answers
Absence of monetary consideration does not exempt lawyers from complying with the
prohibition against pursuing cases with conflicting interests. The prohibition attaches from the  He denied borrowing from complainants. Instead, he claimed that a certain Jean,
moment the attorney-client relationship is established and extends beyond the duration of the one of his clients, was the real debtor.
professional relationship.  He was hired by the complainants for the specific purpose of collecting from Jean

The prohibition against representing conflicting interest is founded on principles of Complainant’s answer to respondent’s claims
public policy and good taste. In the course of the lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns
of the facts connected with the client’s case, including the weak and strong points of the case.  They extended the loan to respondent alone which were evidenced by the checks
The nature of the relationship is, therefore, one of trust and confidence of the highest degree issued in respondent’s name
 They do not know Jean (complainants added that it defies common sense that thet
Re: It was Atty. Ano who was eventually would extend an unsecured loan to a person they do not know)
engaged by the complainant  Complainants submitted Jean pleading in which the latter denied having known the
The take- over of a client’s cause of action by another lawyer does not give the
former lawyer the right to represent the opposing party. It is not only malpractice but also IBP Report and Recommendation
constitutes a violation of the confidence resulting from the attorney-client relationship.
Respondent guilty of violating: (a) Rule 16.04 of the CPR; (b) Canon 7; and (c)
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Galing is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a Canon 16.
period of 1 year.
Canon 7 – A lawyer shall uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the
activities of the IBP

Canon 16 – A lawyer shall hold in trust all monies and properties of his client that may come into his

Rule 16.04 – A lawyer shall not borrow money from his clients unless the client’s interests are fully
protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice.

The Investigating Commissioner observed that the checks were issued in

respondent’s name and that he personally received and encashed them.
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

This is bolstered by the fact that the loan transaction was entered into during the
existence of a lawyer-client relationship between him and complainants, allowing the
Re: Respondent’s claim that Jean was the real debtor former to wield a greater influence over the latter in view of the trust and confidence
inherently imbued in such relationship.
This is unlikely because:

 If it is true that respondent was not the one who obtained the loan, he would have Canon 16 – A lawyer shall hold in trust all monies and properties of his client that may come into his
responded to complainants’ demand letter; however, he did not. possession.
 IBP Commissioner also observed that the acknowledgment Nault allegedly signed
appeared to have been prepared by respondent himself. Rule 16.04 – A lawyer shall not borrow money from his clients unless the client’s interests are fully
 Investigating Commissioner cited Nault’s Answer to the Third Party Complaint protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice.

Further, respondent’s failure to appear during mandatory conferences showed A lawyer’s act of asking a client for a loan, as what respondent did, is very
disrespect for the IBP. unethical.1âwphi1 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
IBP Commissioner suggested disbarment and for respondent to return the maneuverings to renege on her obligation.
P2,500,000 but Board of Governors reduced it to infinite suspension from the practice of law
and ordered the return of the P2,500,000 with legal interest. 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.
Canon 7 – A lawyer shall uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the
Whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for violating the activities of the IBP

SC Ruling 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
Court concurs with the IBP’s findings except as to its recommended penalty and its so doing, failed to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.
directive to return the amount of ₱2,500,000.00, with legal interest
Re: Penalty
Court said that:
Re: Indefinite suspension
 Respondent’s receipt of the ₱2,500,000.00 loan from complainants is amply
supported by substantial evidence. Considering the amount involved in this case and respondent's continuous refusal
 Complaint shows that respondent acknowledged receipt of the checks and agreed to pay his debt, the Court deems it apt to suspend him from the practice of law for
to pay the complainants the loan plus the pro-rated interest of 5% per month within 3 years, instead of the IBP's recommendation to suspend him indefinitely.
5 days
 The dorsal sides of the checks likewise show that respondent personally encashed Re: Return of money
the checks on the day they were issued
 complainants were able to submit documents showing respondent’s receipt of the It is settled that in disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is
whether the officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of
checks and their encashment, as well as his agreement to return the ₱2,500,000.00
the Bar. In such cases, the Court's only concern is the determination of
plus interest. respondent's administrative liability; it should not involve his civil liability for
money received from his client in a transaction separate, distinct, and not
Re: On respondent’s claim that it was Jean who was the debtor
intrinsically linked to his professional engagement.
While respondent submitted a document purporting to be Nault’s acknowledgment
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Elmer A. dela Rosa is found guilty of violating Canon
of his debt to the complainants, Nault, in his Answer to Third Party Complaint, categorically 7 and Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is hereby
denied knowing the complainants and incurring the same obligation. SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of 3 years
Moreover, as correctly pointed out by complainants, it would be illogical for them to
extend a ₱2,500,000.00 loan without any collateral or security to a person they do not even
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

75. Rosacia v. Atty. Bulalacao

An attorney not only becomes familiar with all the facts connected with his client's
Facts: cause, but also learns from his client the weak and strong points of the case. No opportunity
must be given attorneys to take advantage of the secrets of clients obtained while the
Atty. Benjamin B. Bulalacao was hired as retained counsel of a corporation by the confidential relation of attorney and client exists. Otherwise, the legal profession will suffer by
name of Tacma Phils., Inc. On October 31, 1990, the lawyer-client relationship between the the loss of the confidence of the people.
respondent and Tacma Phils., Inc. was severed as shown by another agreement.
Respondent’s plea of leniency can’t be granted. Having just hurdled the bar
After almost 9 months from the date respondent's retainer agreement with Tacma, examinations which included an examination in legal ethics, surely the precepts of the CPR
Phils., Inc. was terminated, several employees of the corporation consulted the respondent to keep inviolate the client's trust and confidence even after the attorney-client relation is
for the purpose of filing an action for illegal dismissal. Thereafter, he agreed to handle the terminated must have been still fresh in his mind.
case for the said employees. He appeared in their behalf before the NLRC.
ACCORDINGLY, respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for 3
Issue: months.

Whether or not respondent breached his oath of office for representing the
employees of his former client the termination of their attorney-client relationship.

IBP Report

IBP investigating commissioner, found that respondent breached his oath of office
and accordingly recommended respondent's suspension from the practice of law for 3 months
to which the Board agreed.

SC Ruling:

Agrees with the IBP that respondent breached his oath.

In fact, in his motion for reconsideration, respondent admitted that he "did commit
an act bordering on grave misconduct, if not outright violation of his attorney’s oath.

However, respondent is pleading for the Court’s compassion and leniency to

reduce the IBP recommended 3 mos to a fine or admonition with the ff. grounds:

 He is relatively new to the profession having been admitted to the Bar on 1990 and
this complaint was filed in 1991
 He is of humble beginnings and his suspension will deprive his family of its only
source of livelihood (he being the sole breadwinner)
 He has fully realized his mistake and the gravity of his offense for which he is
 He has severed his attorney-client relationship with the employees
 He withdrew his appearance as counsel in the labor case
 He pledges not to commit the same mistake and to henceforth strictly adhere to the
professional standards set forth by the CPR

The Court reiterates that an attorney owes loyalty to his client not only in the case
in which he has represented him but also after the relation of attorney and client has
terminated as it is not good practice to permit him afterwards to defend in another case other
person against his former client under the pretext that the case is distinct from, and
independent of the former case.

A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he ought to be mindful of
the trust and confidence reposed in him.
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

For failure to appear in 2 consecutive hearings and to submit a position paper in the
Hanopol case which resulted in complainant LFC's default and judgment against it, the
respondent is faulted for negligence.
76. Lorenzanna Food Corp. v. Daria
Rspondent’s reason for not being able to attend the 1st hearing: Hanopol was
Facts: supposed to see him in his office to work out a compromise agreement.
It is the finding of the Sol-Gen that this excuse by the respondent is not borne by
Respondent was hired by complainant Lorenzana Food Corporation (LFC) as its the Constancia setting the case for hearing. The Constancia clearly states: "By
legal counsel and was designated as its personnel manager 6 months later. agreement of the parties, case reset to June 17, 1983 at 2:00 p.m. as previously
scheduled." Since it was signed by both Hanopol and the respondent, the Solicitor
LFC employee, Violeta Hanopol, filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and other General argues that the respondent's explanation is manifestly unsatisfactory.
monetary claims against complainant before the MOLE, now DOLE.
Rspondent’s reason for not being able to attend the 2nd hearing: Conflict of schedule
During the initial hearing, Hanopol and respondent tried to explore the possibility of and that he told his secretary to call up the Office of the Labor Arbiter to have the
an amicable settlement. Since no agreement was reached the hearing was reset. On the hearing of the Hanopol case postponed.
pretext that Hanopol was supposed to go to his office on that date respondent failed to appear
for the second setting. So, the Labor Arbiter was constrained to further reset the hearing. Sol-Gen said that this action of the respondent was unwarranted. As it turned out,
Respondent received an Order in another labor case, setting the hearing therein also in the the telephone request did not reach the Labor Arbiter, in which the LA declared the
same date. complainant in default and to render judgment against it.

Faced with a conflicting schedule, respondent decided to move to postpone the Another contention by the respondent: Respondent submits that since he was able
hearing in the Hanopol case. However, instead of filing a written motion for postponement, he to persuade the NLRC on appeal to set aside the Decision of the Labor Arbiter and to remand
opted to call, through his secretary, the Office of the Labor Arbiter to move for postponement. the case for further proceedings, then the charge of negligence should be considered moot
and academic already.
Respondent's telephone message apparently failed to reach the Labor Arbiter,
because at the hearing on June 28, 1983, he considered the case submitted for decision on SC said this contention is not meritorious. The setting aside of the adverse
the basis of Hanopol's complaint and affidavit. Respondent had not submitted a position Decision of the Labor Arbiter cannot obliterate the effects of respondent's negligence. Had he
paper. Labor Arbiter issued a Decision directing LFC to pay Hanopol on the basis of Hanopol’s attended the 2 hearings, there would be no delay in the resolution of the case (which may
evidence alone. perhaps be in favour of complainant). The delay, by itself, was prejudicial to complainant
because it deprived successor-counsel Atty. Loy of time which he should be devoting to other
Daria appealed the Decision. Meanwhile, respondent signified to management his cases of complainant. In fact he had to prepare complainant's position paper which
intention to resign. In the light of this development, management hired Atty. Rogelio Udarbe respondent should have done earlier.
to take his place. Respondent endorsed the cases of complainant to Atty. Udarbe.
SC said Atty. Daria was guilty of negligence and a clear violation of the CPR.
During the hearings of the Hanopol case, no one arrived for complainant.

Other instances of betrayal

Canon 18 – A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence
While respondent was still connected with complainant, its general manager,
Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in
Sebastian Cortes, issued a memorandum to its employee San Juan, requiring him for an
connection therewith shall render him liable.
explanation for his alleged double liquidation and unliquidated cash advances. The executive
committee, to which respondent belongs, investigated San Juan and respondent placed San
Juan under preventive suspension.
Re: Betrayal of LFC’s confidence in violation of Canon 17 of the CPR
When respondent already resigned, complainant sent a letter to San Jua re:
restitution of the amount of P9,000. Since San Juan failed to pay, he was filed with estafa
Canon 17 – A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and
Respondent prepared San Juan's counter affidavit and signed it.
confidence reposed in him.

SC Ruling:
The Solicitor General further found that the respondent assisted Roberto San Juan
Re: Non-appearance in the Hanopol case in the preparation of the counter-affidavit, submitted in defense of the latter in the accusation
of estafa filed against San Juan by LFC.
Legal Ethics | Canons 15 to 17 Case Digests LOD 2017 - 2018
Atty. Louie John Lood

As a matter of fact, the respondent signed the jurat of the San Juan counter-affidavit
he (respondent) helped prepare. It is also a fact that the respondent investigated this same
charge of estafa while he was still the lawyer of the complainant and San Juan still likewise
an employee of LFC.

Respondent’s contention: Counter affidavit was prepared by a lawyer-friend, Atty. Joselito R.

Enriquez, who had his (respondent's) name typed on it. San Juan was about to bring the
counter affidavit so that Atty. Daria could remove his signature but San Juan did not obey him.
The Court is not convinced.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the respondent is found guilty of both the charge of
negligence, a transgression of Rule 18.03, Canon 18, and the charge of betrayal of his former
client's confidences, in violation of Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of 6 months.