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WILLIAM S. UY vs. ATTY. FERMIN L.

GONZALES

A.C. No. 5280 : March 30, 2004

FACTS:

Complainant engaged the services of respondent lawyer to prepare and file a petition for the issuance of a new
certificate of title. After confiding with respondent the circumstances surrounding the lost title and discussing the
fees and costs, respondent prepared, finalized and submitted to him a petition to be filed before the Regional Trial
Court.

When the petition was about to be filed, respondent went to complainant’s office demanding a certain amount other
than what was previously agreed upon. Respondent left his office after reasoning with him. Expecting that said
petition would be filed, he was shocked to find out later that instead of filing the petition for the issuance of a new
certificate of title, respondent filed a letter-complaint against him with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for
Falsification of Public Documents. The letter-complaint contained facts and circumstances pertaining to the transfer
certificate of title that was the subject matter of the petition which respondent was supposed to have filed.

Respondent claims that he gave complainant a handwritten letter telling complainant that he is withdrawing the
petition he prepared and that complainant should get another lawyer to file the petition thereby terminating the
lawyer-client relationship between him and complainant; that there was no longer any professional relationship
between the two of them when he filed the letter-complaint for falsification of public document; that the facts and
allegations contained in the letter-complaint for falsification were culled from public documents procured from the
Office of the Register of Deeds.

The IBP found him guilty of violating Rule 21.02, Canon 21 of the Canons of Professional Responsibility and
recommended for his suspension for 6 months.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent violated Canon 21 of the CPR?

HELD:

No. Evidently, the facts alleged in the complaint for Estafa Through Falsification of Public Documents filed by
respondent against complainant were obtained by respondent due to his personal dealings with complainant.
Respondent volunteered his service to hasten the issuance of the certificate of title of the land he has redeemed from
complainant. Clearly, there was no attorney-client relationship between respondent and complainant. The
preparation and the proposed filing of the petition was only incidental to their personal transaction.

Whatever facts alleged by respondent against complainant were not obtained by respondent in his professional
capacity but as a redemptioner of a property originally owned by his deceased son and therefore, when respondent
filed the complaint for estafa against herein complainant, which necessarily involved alleging facts that would
constitute estafa, respondent was not, in any way, violating Canon 21. There is no way we can equate the filing of
the affidavit-complaint against herein complainant to a misconduct that is wanting in moral character, in honesty,
probity and good demeanor or that renders him unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. To hold otherwise
would be precluding any lawyer from instituting a case against anyone to protect his personal or proprietary
interests.

PETITION DISMISSED for lack of merit.

1) Santiago vs. Fojas


(VERONICA S. SANTIAGO, BENJAMIN Q. HONTIVEROS, MR. SOCORRO F. MANAS, and
TRINIDADNORDISTA, complainants, vs. ATTY. AMADO R. FOJAS, respondent)

Adm. Case No. 4103

September 7, 1995Davide, Jr., J.:FACTS: The case is for disbarment of respondent Fojas, counsel of the
complainants, due to malpractice, neglect and other offenses. It arose from the following facts. Complainants were
officers of the Far Eastern University Faculty Association (FEUFA). They allegedly expelled from the
union Paulino Salvador. Salvador then commenced with DOLE a complaint to declare illegal his expulsion from the
union.

Med-Arbiter, in its resolution, declared illegal Salvador's expulsion and directed his reinstatement in the roll of
union members with all the rights and privileges appurtenant thereto which was affirmed in toto by the Secretary of
DOLE. Subsequently, Salvador filed with the RTC a complaint against the complainants for actual,moral, and exemplary
damages and attorney's fees, under Articles 19, 20, and 21 of the Civil Code. As complainants' counsel, the
respondent filed a motion to dismiss the said case on grounds of (1)res judicata by virtue of the final decision of the
Med-Arbiter and (2) lack of jurisdiction, being an intra-union issue cognizable by the DOLE. The trial court granted the
motion and ordered the dismissal of the case. However, it was reconsidered and the case reinstated upon Salvador's
motion for reconsideration, and required the complainants to file their answer within a non-extendible period of
fifteen (15) days from notice.

Instead of filing an answer, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration and dismissal of the case but was denied. The
respondent, then, filed with the SC a petition for certiorari, which was referred to the CA but was also denied.

Because of failure to still file an answer by the respondent despite such denial, the complainants, upon Salvador's
motion, were declared in default, and Salvador was authorized to present his evidence ex-parte. Respondent then filed to set
aside such order and the

ex-parte reception but to no avail. The trial court rendered a decision ordering the complainants herein to pay, jointly
and severally, plaintiff Salvador which was affirmed by CA. The respondent asserts that he was about to appeal the
said decision to SC, but his services as counsel for the complainants and for the union were illegally and unilaterally
terminated by complainant Santiago.

ISSUE(S): Whether or not the respondent committed culpable negligence, as would warrant disciplinary action, in
failing to file an answer that declared the complainants to be in default and judgment was rendered against them o n
the sole basis of plaintiff’s evidence, which was received ex parte.

HELD:Yes. ATTY. AMADO R. FOJAS is REPRIMANDED and ADMONISHED to be, henceforth, more careful in the
performance of his duty to his clients.

The respondent committed a breach of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility(CPR) which requires
him to serve his clients, the complainants, with diligence and, more specifically, Rule 18.03 thereof which
provides: "A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith
shall render him liable."
Aniñon v. Sabitsana A.C. No. 5098, April 11, 2012

Facts: In her complaint, Josefina M. Aniñon (complainant) related that she previously engaged the legal services of
Atty. Sabitsana in the preparation and execution in her favor of a Deed of Sale over a parcel of land owned by her
late common-law husband Brigido Caneja, Jr.. Respondent allegedly violated her confidence when he subsequently
filed a civil case against her for the annulment of the Deed of Sale in behalf of Zenaida L. Cañete, the legal wife of
Brigido Caneja, Jr. The complainant accused Respondent of using the confidential information he obtained from her
in filing the civil case.

Issue: Whether Respondent is guilty of misconduct for representing conflicting interests.

Held: Yes, the court agree with the findings and recommendations of the IBP Commissioner and the IBP Board of
Governors. The relationship between a lawyer and his/her client should ideally be imbued with the highest level of
trust and confidence. This is the standard of confidentiality that must prevail to promote a full disclosure of the
client’s most confidential information to his/her lawyer for an unhampered exchange of information between them.
Needless to state, a client can only entrust confidential information to his/her lawyer based on an expectation from
the lawyer of utmost secrecy and discretion; the lawyer, for his part, is duty-bound to observe candor, fairness and
loyalty in all dealings and transactions with the client. Part of the lawyer’s duty in this regard is to avoid
representing conflicting interests, a matter covered by Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned
given after a full disclosure of the facts. “The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a
situation where the opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action.” The prohibition
also applies even if the “lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer has to
oppose for the other client, or that there would be no occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one
to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated.” To be held accountable under this rule, it is
“enough that the opposing parties in one case, one of whom would lose the suit, are present clients and the nature or
conditions of the lawyer’s respective retainers with each of them would affect the performance of the duty of
undivided fidelity to both clients.” Jurisprudence has provided three tests in determining whether a violation of the
above rule is present in a given case. One test is whether a lawyer is duty-bound to fight for an issue or claim in
behalf of one client and, at the same time, to oppose that claim for the other client. Thus, if a lawyer’s argument for
one client has to be opposed by that same lawyer in arguing for the other client, there is a violation of the rule.
Another test 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 duty. Still another test is whether the lawyer would be called upon in the
new relation to use against a former client any confidential information acquired through their connection or
previous employment. On the basis of the attendant facts of the case, we find substantial evidence to support
Respondent’s violation of the above rule, as established by the following circumstances on record:

One, his legal services were initially engaged by the complainant to protect her interest over a certain property. The
records show that upon the legal advice of Respondent, the Deed of Sale over the property was prepared and
executed in the complainant’s favor.

Two Respondent met with Zenaida Cañete to discuss the latter’s legal interest over the property subject of the Deed
of Sale. At that point, Respondent already had knowledge that Zenaida Cañete’s interest clashed with the
complainant’s interests.

Three, despite the knowledge of the clashing interests between his two clients, Respondent accepted the engagement
from Zenaida Cañete.
Four, Respondent’s actual knowledge of the conflicting interests between his two clients was demonstrated by his
own actions: first, he filed a case against the complainant in behalf of Zenaida Cañete; second, he impleaded the
complainant as the defendant in the case; and third, the case he filed was for the annulment of the Deed of Sale that
he had previously prepared and executed for the complainant.

Junio v Grupo

Facts:

Rosario Junio entrusted to Atty. Salvador Grupo, P25,000 to be used in the redemption of a property in Bohol. For
no reason at all, Atty. Grupo did not redeem the property so the property was forfeited. Because of this, Junio
wanted the money back but Grupo refused to refund. Instead, Grupo requested that he use the money to help defray
his children’s educational expenses. It was a personal request to which Grupo executed a PN. He maintains that the
family of the Junio and Grupo were very close since Junio’s sisters served as Grupo’s household helpers for many
years. Grupo also stated that the basis of his rendering legal services was purely gratuitous or “an act of a friend for
a friend” with “consideration involved.” He concluded that there was no atty-client relationship existing between
them.

The case was referred to the IBP and found Grupo liable for violation of Rule 16.04 of the Code of Profesisonal
Responsibility which forbids lawyers from borrowing money from their clients. The IBP Board of Governors
recommended that he be suspended indefinitely from the practice of law. Grupo filed a motion for reconsideration.

Issue:

Whether or not there was an atty-client relationship.

Held:

Yes. If a person, in respect to his business affairs, consults with an attorney in his professional capacity and the
attorney voluntarily permits in such consultation, then the professional employment must be regarded as established.

Having gained dominance over Junio by virtue of such long relation of master and servant, Grupo took advantage of
his influence by not returning the money. Grupo has committed an act which falls short of the standard conduct of
an attorney. If an ordinary borrower of money is required by law to repay his loan, it is more so in the case of a
lawyer whose conduct serves as an example.

*SC orders Grupo suspended from the practice of law for a month and to pay Junio within 30 days with interest at
the legal rate.
* Note: 5 yrs. has already passed since the loan.