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ERMELINDA LAD VDA.

DE DOMINGUEZ, REPRESENTED BY HER ATTORNEY-IN-FACT,


VICENTE A. PICHON, COMPLAINANT,

VS.

ATTY. ARNULFO M. AGLERON, SR., RESPONDENT.

Facts:

Complainant Ermelinda Lad Vda. De Dominguez (complainant) was the widow of the late Felipe
Domiguez who died in a vehicular accident in Caraga, Davao Oriental, on October 18, 1995, involving a
dump truck owned by the Municipality of Caraga. Aggrieved, complainant decided to file charges against
the Municipality of Caraga and engaged the services of respondent Atty. Arnulfo M. Agleron, Sr. (Atty.
Agleron). On three (3) occasions, Atty. Agleron requested and received from complainant the following
amounts for the payment of filing fees and sheriff’s fees, to wit: (1) June 3, 1996 – P3,000.00; (2) June 7,
1996 – P1,800.00; and September 2, 1996 – P5,250.00 or a total of P10,050.00. After the lapse of four (4)
years, however, no complaint was filed by Atty. Agleron against the Municipality of Caraga.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent violated the code of professional responsibility

Ruling:

Atty. Agleron violated Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that:

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

Once a lawyer takes up the cause of his client, 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.

In the present case, Atty. Agleron admitted his failure to file the complaint against the Municipality of
Caraga, Davao Oriental, despite the fact that it was already prepared and signed. He attributed his non-
filing of the appropriate charges on the failure of complainant to remit the full payment of the filing fee
and pay the 30% of the attorney’s fee. Such justification, however, is not a valid excuse that would
exonerate him from liability. As stated, every case that is entrusted to a lawyer deserves his full attention
whether he accepts this for a fee or free. Even assuming that complainant had not remitted the full
payment of the filing fee, he should have found a way to speak to his client and inform him about the
insufficiency of the filing fee so he could file the complaint. Atty. Agleron obviously lacked
professionalism in dealing with complainant and showed incompetence when he failed to file the
appropriate charges.

CONCHITA A. BALTAZAR, ROLANDO SAN PEDRO, ALICIA EULALIO-RAMOS, SOLEDAD A. FAJARDO AND
ENCARNACION A. FERNANDEZ, Complainants,
vs.
ATTY. JUAN B. BAÑEZ, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

SERENO, CJ.:

Complainants are the owners of three parcels of land located in Dinalupihan, Bataan.1 n 4 September 2002, they
entered into an agreement, they stood to be paid ₱35,000.000 for all the lots that would be sold in the
subdivision.2For that purpose, they executed a Pecial Power of Attorney authorizing Fevidal to enter into all
agreements concerning the parcels of land and to sign those agreements on their behalf. 3

Fevidal did not update complainants about the status of the subdivision project and failed to accout for the titles
to the subdivided land.4 Complainants also found that he had sold a number of parcels to third parties, but that he
did not turn the proceeds over to them. Neither were complainants invited to the ceremonial opening of the
subdivision project.5

Thus, on 23 August 2005, they revoked the Special Power of Attorney they had previously executed in his favor.6

Complainants subsequently agreed to settle with Fevidal for the amount of ₱10,000,000, but the latter again failed
to pay them.7

Complainants engaged the professional services of respondent for the purpose of assisting them in the preparation
of a settlement agreement.8

Instead of drafting a written settlement, respondent encouraged them to institute actions against Fevidal in order
to recover their properties. Complainants then signed a contract of legal services,9 in which it was agreed that they
would not pay acceptance and appearance fees to respondent, but that the docket fees would instead be shared
by the parties. Under the contract, complainants would pay respondent 50% of whatever would be recovered of
the properties. In preparation for the filing of an action against Fevidal, respondent prepared and notarized an
Affidavit of Adverse Claim, seeking to annotate the claim of complainants to at least 195 titles in the possession of
Fevidal.10

A certain Luzviminda Andrade (Andrade) was tasked to submit the Affidavit of Adverse Claim to the Register of
Deeds of Bataan.11

The costs for the annotation of the adverse claim were paid by respondent. Unknown to him, the adverse claim
was held in abeyance, because Fevidal got wind of it and convinced complainants to agree to another settlement. 12

Meanwhile, on behalf of complainants, and after sending Fevidal a demand letter dated 10 July 2006, respondent
filed a complaint for annulment, cancellation and revalidation of titles, and damages against Fevidal before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bataan on 13 October 2006.13

Complainants found it hard to wait for the outcome of the action. Thus, they terminated the services of
respondent on 8 June 2007, withdrew their complaint against Fevidal on 9 June 2007, and finalized their amicable
settlement with him on 5 July 2007.14

Respondent filed a Manifestation and Opposition 15 dated 20 July 2007 before the RTC, alleging that the
termination of his services and withdrawal of the complaint had been done with the intent of defrauding counsel.
On the same date, he filed a Motion for Recording of Attorney’s Charging Lien in the Records of the Above-
Captioned Cases.16
When the RTC granted the withdrawal of the complaint,17 he filed a Manifestation and Motion for
Reconsideration.18

After an exchange of pleadings between respondent and Fevidal, with the latter denying the former’s allegation of
collusion,19 complainants sought the suspension/disbarment of respondent through a Complaint20 filed before the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on 14 November 2007. Complainants alleged that they were uneducated
and underprivileged, and could not taste the fruits of their properties because the disposition thereof was "now
clothed with legal problems" brought about by respondent.21

In their complaint, they alleged that respondent had violated Canons


1.01,22 1.03,23 1.04,24 12.02,25 15.05,26 18.04,27and 20.0428 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. On 14 August
2008, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation 29 of the
investigating commissioner. It suspended respondent from the practice of law for a period of one year for entering
into a champertous agreement.30

On 26 June 2011, it denied his motion for reconsideration. On 26 November 2012, this Court noted the
Indorsement of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, as well as respondent’s second motion for reconsideration.
We find that respondent did not violate any of the canons cited by complainants. In fact, we have reason to
believe that complainants only filed the instant complaint against him at the prodding of Fevidal.

Respondent cannot be faulted for advising complainants to file an action against Fevidal to recover their
properties, instead of agreeing to a settlement of ₱10,000,000 – a measly amount compared to that in the original
agreement, under which Fevidal undertook to pay complainants the amount of ₱35,000,000. Lawyers have a
sworn duty and responsibility to protect the interest of any prospective client and pursue the ends of justice. 31

Any lawyer worth his salt would advise complainants against the abuses of Fevidal under the circumstances, and
we cannot countenance an administrative complaint against a lawyer only because he performed a duty imposed
on him by his oath. The claim of complainants that they were not informed of the status of the case is more
appropriately laid at their door rather than at that of respondent. He was never informed that they had held in
abeyance the filing of the adverse claim. Neither was he informed of the brewing amicable settlement between
complainants and Fevidal. We also find it very hard to believe that while complainants received various amounts as
loans from respondent from August 2006 to June 2007,32 they could not spare even a few minutes to ask about the
status of the case. We shall discuss this more below. As regards the claim that respondent refused to "patch up"
with Fevidal despite the pleas of complainants, we note the latter’s Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 24 September
2007, in which they admitted that they could not convince Fevidal to meet with respondent to agree to a
settlement.33

Finally, complainants apparently refer to the motion of respondent for the recording of his attorney’s charging lien
as the "legal problem" preventing them from enjoying the fruits of their property. Section 26, Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court allows an attorney to intervene in a case to protect his rights concerning the payment of his
compensation. According to the discretion of the court, the attorney shall have a lien upon all judgments for the
payment of money rendered in a case in which his services have been retained by the client. We recently upheld
the right of counsel to intervene in proceedings for the recording of their charging lien. In Malvar v. KFPI, 34 we
granted counsel’s motion to intervene in the case after petitioner therein terminated his services without
justifiable cause. Furthermore, after finding that petitioner and respondent had colluded in order to deprive
counsel of his fees, we ordered the parties to jointly and severally pay counsel the stipulated contingent fees. Thus,
the determination of whether respondent is entitled to the charging lien is based on the discretion of the court
before which the lien is presented. The compensation of lawyers for professional services rendered is subject to
the supervision of the court, not only to guarantee that the fees they charge remain reasonable and
commensurate with the services they have actually rendered, but to maintain the dignity and integrity of the legal
profession as well.35
In any case, an attorney is entitled to be paid reasonable compensation for his services.36

That he had pursued its payment in the appropriate venue does not make him liable for disciplinary
action.1âwphi1Notwithstanding the foregoing, respondent is not without fault. Indeed, we find that the contract
for legal services he has executed with complainants is in the nature of a champertous contract – an agreement
whereby an attorney undertakes to pay the expenses of the proceedings to enforce the client’s rights in exchange
for some bargain to have a part of the thing in dispute.37

Such contracts are contrary to public policy38 and are thus void or inexistent.39

They are also contrary to Canon 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states that lawyers shall
not lend money to a client, except when in the interest of justice, they have to advance necessary expenses in a
legal matter they are handling for the client. A reading of the contract for legal services40 shows that respondent
agreed to pay for at least half of the expense for the docket fees. He also paid for the whole amount needed for
the recording of complainants’ adverse claim. While lawyers may advance the necessary expenses in a legal matter
they are handling in order to safeguard their client’s rights, it is imperative that the advances be subject to
reimbrusement.41 The purpose is to avoid a situation in which a lawyer acquires a personal stake in the clients
cause. Regrettably, nowhere in the contract for legal services is it stated that the expenses of litigation advanced
by respondents shall be subject to reimbursement by complainants.

In addition, respondent gave various amounts as cash advances (bali), gasoline and transportation allowance to
them for the duration of their attorney-client relationship. In fact, he admits that the cash advances were in the
nature of personal loans that he extended to complainants. 42

Clearly, respondent lost sight of his responsibility as a lawyer in balancing the clients interests with the ethical
standards of his profession. Considering the surrounding circumstances in this case, an admonition shall suffice to
remind him that however dire the needs of the clients, a lawyer must always avoid any appearance of impropriety
to preserve the integrity of the profession.

WHEREFORE, Attorney Juan B. Bañez, Jr. is hereby ADMONISHED for advancing the litigation expenses in a legal
matter her handled for a client without providing for terms of reimbursement and lending money to his client, in
violation of Canon 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He us sternly warned that a repetition of the
same or similar act would be dealt with more severly.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal record of Atty. Bañez, Jr.

SO ORDERED.

FERNANDO W. CHU, Complainant, v. ATTY. JOSE C. GUICO, JR., Respondents.

FACTS: Chu retained Atty. Guico as counsel to handle the labor disputes involving his company, CVC
San Lorenzo Ruiz Corporation (CVC).1 Atty. Guico’s legal services included handling a complaint for
illegal dismissal brought against CVC. Atty. Guico asked him to prepare a substantial amount of money
to be given to the NLRC Commissioner handling the appeal to insure a favorable decision. Chu called
Atty. Guico to inform him that he had raised P300,000.00 for the purpose. On that occasion, the latter
told Chu to raise another P300,000.00 to encourage the NLRC Commissioner to issue the decision. But
Chu could only produce P280,000.00, which he brought to Atty. Guico’s office. The amount was
received without issuing any receipt.
ISSUE: Did Atty. Guico violate the Lawyer’s Oath and Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon I of the Code of
Professional Responsibility for demanding and receiving P580,000.00 from Chu to guarantee a favorable
decision from the NLRC?

RULING OF THE IBP: IBP found that Atty. Guico had violated Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon I of the Code
of Professional Responsibility for demanding and receiving P580,000.00 from Chu. and recommended
the disbarment of Atty. Guico in view of his act of extortion and misrepresentation that caused dishonor
to and contempt for the legal profession.

RULING OF THE COURT:

In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests on the complainant to establish respondent
attorney’s liability by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence. Indeed, this Court has consistently
required clearly preponderant evidence to justify the imposition of either disbarment or suspension as
penalty.18chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The testimony of Chu, and the circumstances narrated by Chu and his witnesses, especially the act of
Atty. Guico of presenting to Chu the supposed draft decision that had been printed on used paper
emanating from Atty. Guico’s office, sufficed to confirm that he had committed the imputed gross
misconduct by demanding and receiving P580,000.00 from Chu to obtain a favorable decision.

In this administrative case, a fact may be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence,
or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a
conclusion.

x x x maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; x x x support its Constitution and obey the
laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; x x x do no falsehood, nor
consent to the doing of any in court; x x x delay no man for money or malice x x x.

Atty. Guico committed grave misconduct and disgraced the Legal Profession. Grave misconduct is
“improper or wrong conduct, the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden
act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies a wrongful intent and not mere error of judgment.”
There is no question that any gross misconduct by an attorney in his professional or private capacity
renders him unfit to manage the affairs of others, and is a ground for the imposition of the penalty of
suspension or disbarment, because good moral character is an essential qualification for the admission
of an attorney and for the continuance of such privilege.

Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are designed to ensure that whoever is granted the
privilege to practice law in this country should remain faithful to the Lawyer’s Oath. Only thereby
can lawyers preserve their fitness to remain as members of the Law Profession. Any resort to
falsehood or deception, including adopting artifices to cover up one’s misdeeds committed against
clients and the rest of the trusting public, evinces an unworthiness to continue enjoying the privilege
to practice law and highlights the unfitness to remain a member of the Law Profession. It deserves
for the guilty lawyer stern disciplinary sanctions.

ACCORDINGLY,theCourt FINDS and DECLARES respondent ATTY. JOSE S. GUICO, JR. GUILTY of
the violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, and Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon I of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, and DISBARS him from membership in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP OF THE SPOUSES VICENTE CADAVEDO AND BENITA


ARCOY-CADAVEDO (both deceased), substituted by their heirs, namely: HERMINA,
PASTORA, Heirs of FRUCTUOSA, Heirs of RAQUEL, EVANGELINE, VICENTE, JR., and
ARMANDO, all surnamed CADAVEDO
vs.
VICTORINO (VIC) T. LACAYA, married to Rosa Legados,
G.R. No. 173188 January 15, 2014
BRION, J.
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 attorney's fees is valid.

Held: No, The Supreme 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.
CZARINA T. MALVAR v. KRAFT FOOD PHILIPPINES, INC. and/or BIENVENIDO BAUTISTA, KRAFT FOODS
INTERNATIONAL G.R. No. 183952, 9 September 2013, FIRST DIVISION, (BERSAMIN,

Although the practice of law is not a business, an attorney is entitled to be properly compensated for
the professional services rendered for the client, who is bound by her express agreement to duly
compensate the attorney. The client may not deny her attorney such just compensation.

Malvar filed a complaint for illegal suspension and illegal dismissal against KFPI and Bautista in the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The Labor Arbiter found and declared her suspension and
dismissal illegal, and ordered her reinstatement, and the payment of her full backwages, inclusive of

allowances and other benefits, plus attorney’s fees. NLRC and CA affirmed the decision of the Labor
Arbiter. After the judgment in her favor became final and executory Malvar moved for the issuance of a
writ of execution but the execution failed due to questionable computation of the award. Malvar
requested for the 2nd issuance of the writ of execution and was partially complied with but with protest
on the part of Kraft by filing a TRO for further execution since the computation is incorrect. CA ruled in
favor of Kraft. Thus, Malvar appealed. While her appeal was pending in this Court, Malvar and Kraft
entered into a compromise agreement. Thereafter, Malvar filed an undated Motion to
Dismiss/Withdraw Case, praying that the appeal be immediately dismissed/withdrawn in view of the
compromise agreement, and that the case be considered closed and terminated. Before the Court could
act on Malvar’s Motion to Dismiss/Withdraw Case, the Court received a so

-
called Motion for Intervention to Protect Attorney’s Rights from Malvar’s counsel. The counsel indicated
that Malvar’s precipitate action had baffled, shocked and even embarrassed the Intervenor/counsel,
because it had done everything legally possible to serve and protect Malvar’s interest.

ISSUE:

Can the Motion for Intervention to protect attorney’s rights prosper?

RULING:

Yes.

A client has an undoubted right to settle her litigation without the intervention of the attorney, for the
former is generally conceded to have exclusive control over the subject matter of the litigation and may
at any time, if acting in good faith, settle and adjust

the cause of action out of court before judgment, even without the attorney’s intervention. It

is important for the client to show, however, that the compromise agreement does not adversely affect
third persons who are not parties to the agreement. By such, a client has the absolute right to terminate
the attorney-client relationship at any time with or without cause. But this right of the client is not
unlimited because good faith is required in terminating the relationship. It is basic that an attorney is
entitled to have and to receive a just and reasonable compensation for services performed at the special
instance and request of his client. The attorney who has acted in good faith and honesty in representing
and serving the interests of the client should be reasonably compensated for his service.