Legal Ethics – Code of Judicial Conduct

Code of Judicial Conduct


An honorable, competent and independent judiciary exists to administer justice and thus promote the unity of the country, the stability of government, and the well being of the people.

CANON 1- A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary 

Rule 1.01 – A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence.

Rule 1.02 – A judge should administer justice impartially and without delay.

Rule 1.03 – A judge should be vigilant against any attempt to subvert the independence of the judiciary and resist any pressure from whatever source.

  • Judges should avoid even the slightest infraction of the law.
  • Must be models of uprightness, fairness and honesty
  • Should not relax in his study of the law and court decisions.
  • Should not be swayed by public clamor or considerations of personal popularity
  • Must decide motions without delay.
  • Should also appear impartial.

CANON 2 – A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. 

Rule 2.01 – A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

Rule 2.02 – A judge should not seek publicity for personal vainglory.

Rule 2.03 – A judge shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment.  The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.

Rule 2.04 – A judge shall refrain from influencing in any manner the outcome of litigation or dispute pending before another court of administrative agency.

  • A judge must be beyond suspicion. He has the duty not only to render a just and impartial decision but also to render it in such a manner as to be free from any suspicion as to its fairness and impartiality, and also as to his integrity.
  • Every litigant is entitled to nothing short of the cold neutrality of an independent, wholly free, disinterested and impartial tribunal.
  • A judge must be temperate in his language and must not lose his cool.
  • A judge is prohibited from making public statements in the media regarding a pending case so as not to arouse public opinion for or against a party (violates the Principle of Subjudice)
  • Judges must not use or permit the use of any undignified/self-laudatory statement regarding their qualifications or legal services.
  • A judge must not allow anyone to ride on his prestige. He should not create the impression that someone or some people are so close to him to enjoy his favor.

CANON 3 –  A judge should perform official duties honestly, and with impartiality and diligence.



Rule 3.01 – A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence.

  • Judge should be conversant with the law and its amendments.

Rule 3.02 – In every case, a judge shall endeavor diligently to ascertain the facts and the applicable law unswayed by partisan interest, public opinion or fear of criticism.

  • Finding of facts must be based not on the personal knowledge of the judge but upon the evidence presented.
  • If the personal view of the judge contradicts the applicable doctrine promulgated by the Supreme Court, nonetheless, he should decide the case in accordance with that doctrine and not in accordance with his personal views.  He is however not prohibited from stating his own opinion on the matter if he wants to invite constructive attention thereto.

Rule 3.03 – A judge shall maintain order and proper decorum in the courts.

Rule 3.04 – A judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers, especially the inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and others appearing before the court.  A judge should avoid unconsciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the courts, instead of the courts for the litigants.

  • Conduct of trial must not be attended with fanfare and publicity; not permit pictures or broadcasting.
  • Must use temperate language; should not make insulting remarks.

Rule 3.05 – A judge shall dispose of the court’s business promptly and decide cases within the required periods.

Rule 3.06 – While a judge may, to promote justice, prevent waste of time or clear up some obscurity, properly intervene in the presentation of evidence during the trial, it should always be borne in mind that undue interference may prevent the proper presentation of the cause of the ascertainment of the truth.

 Rule 3.07 – A judge should abstain from making public comments on any pending or impending case and should require similar restraint on the part of court personnel.

  • Judge should take notes and rely on transcripts.
  • Judge is not excused if stenographer is overloaded. He is excused for delay on grounds of multifarious motions; appellate court enjoins judge from further proceeding; heavy caseload.



Rule 3.08 – A judge should diligently discharge administrative responsibilities, maintain professional competence in court managements, and facilitate the performance of the administrative functions of other judges and court personnel.

Rule 3.09 – A judge should organize and supervise the court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, and require at all times the observance of high standards of public service and fidelity.

Rule 3.10 – A judge should take or inititate appropriate disciplinary measures against lawyers or court personnel for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may have become aware.

Rule 3.11 – A judge should appoint commissioners, receivers, trustees, guardians, administrators and others strictly on the basis of merit and qualifications, avoiding nepotism, and favoritism. Unless otherwise allowed by law, the same criteria should be observed in recommending appointment of court personnel.  Where the payment of compensation is allowed, it should be reasonable and commensurate with the fair value of services rendered.

  • Ascertain that the records of all cases are properly kept and managed.
  • Maintain a checklist on the cases submitted for decision with a view to know exactly the specific deadlines for the resolution/decision of the said cases.
  • Loss of records: gross negligence
  • Should be a good manager.
  • May not summarily suspend a lawyer for indirect contempt.
  • Judge has the power to appoint, but the power to dismiss court employees is vested in the Supreme Court.
  • If knowingly nominate or appoint to any public office any person lacking the legal qualification therefor, shall be guilty of unlawful appointment punishable with imprisonment and fine (Art 244, RPC).



Rule 3.12 – A judge should take no part in proceeding where the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.  These cases include, among others, proceedings where;

  1. a.      the judge has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;
  2. b.     the judge served as executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or lawyer in the case or matters in controversy, or a former associate of the judge served as counsel during their association, or the judge or lawyer was a material witness therein;
  3. c.      the judge’s ruling in a lower court is subject of review
  4. d.     the judge is related by consanguinity or affinity to a party litigant within the 6th degree or to counsel within the 4th degree;
  5. e.      the judge knows that the judge’s spouse  or child has a financial interest, as heir, legatee, creditor, fiduciary, or otherwise, in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.

In every instance the judge shall indicate the legal reason for inhibition.

  • Petition to disqualify judge must be filed before rendition of judgment by the judge; can’t be raised first time on appeal.
  • If a judge denies petition for disqualification, the ultimate test: is whether or not the complaint was deprived of a fair and impartial trial. Remedy: seek new trial.


Rule 3.13 – A judge disqualified by the terms of Rule 3.12 may, instead of withdrawing from the proceeding, disclose on the record the basis of disqualification.  If, based on such disclosure, the parties and lawyers independently of the judge’s participation, all agree in writing that the reason for the inhibition is immaterial or insubstantial, the judge may then participate in the proceeding.  The agreement, signed by all parties and lawyers, shall be incorporated in the record of the proceeding.


CANON 4 – A judge may, with due regard to official duties, engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.

Rule 4.01 – A judge may, to the extent that the following activities do not impair the performance of judicial duties or case doubt on the judge’s impartiality:

  1. a.      speak, write, lecture, teach or participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice;
  2. b.     appear at a public hearing before a legislative or executive body on matters concerning the law, the legal system or the administration of justice and otherwise consult with them on matters concerning the administration of justice;
  3. c.      serve on any organization devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.
  • Decision to engage in these activities depends upon the sound judgement of the judge.
  • If has not enough time to spare (such as when caseload is too heavy) prudence dictates, he must concentrate on his judicial duties.
  • If a judge has time to spare, the best attitude to take is to participate in activities which are closely related to the performance of his duties and which do not consume much of his time and energy.

CANON 5 – A judge should regulate extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial activities.


Rule 5.01 – A judge  may engage in the following activities provided that they do not interfere with the performance of judicial duties or detract from the dignity of the courts:

  1. a.      write, lecture, teach and speak on non-legal subjects;
  2. b.     engage in the arts, sports, and other special recreational activities;
  3. c.      participate in civic and charitable activities;
  4. d.     serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor of a non-profit or non-political, educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization.
  • If they opt to engage in such activities, they must learn how to manage their time in such manner that their judicial responsibilities do not falter and suffer.


Rule 5.02 – A judge shall refrain from financial and business dealings that tends to reflect adversely on the court’s impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of judicial activities, or increase involvements with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court. A judge should so manage investments and other financial interests as to minimize the number of cases giving grounds for disqualification.

Rule 5.03 – Subject to the provisions of the proceeding rule, a judge may hold and manage investments but should not serve as an officer, director, manager, advisor, or employee of any business except as director of a family business of the judge.

Rule 5.04 – A judge or any, immediate member of the family, shall not accept a gift, bequest, favor or loan from anyone except as may be allowed by law.

Rule 5.05 – No information acquired in a judicial capacity shall be used or disclosed by a judge in any financial dealing or for any other purpose not related to judicial activities.

  • Prohibitions under the Revised Penal Code:

Art 215. Prohibited Transaction. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from P200 to P1000 or both, shall be imposed upon any appointive public officer who, during his incumbency, shall directly or indirectly become interested in any transaction of exchange or speculation within the territory subject to his jurisdiction.

Art 216. Possession of prohibited interest by a public officer. The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period, or a fine ranging from P200 to P1000, or both, shall be imposed upon a public officer who directly and indirectly, shall become interested in any contract or business which it is his official duty to intervene.

  • Sec 3. Corrupt practices of public officers.  In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:


(h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, or contract or transaction in connection with which here intervenes or takes part in his official capacity or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest, (Sec. 3(h), RA 3019)

  • General Rule: Avoid taking or receiving loans from litigants.
  • Exception (AGCPA): Unsolicited gifts or presents of small value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local custom or usage.


Rule 5.06 – A judge should not serve as the execution administrator, trustee, guardian, or other fiduciary, except for the estate, trust, or person of a member of the immediate family and then only if such service will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties. “member of immediate family” shall be limited to the spouse  and relatives within the second degree of consanguinity.  As a family fiduciary, a judge shall not:

  1. a.      serve in proceedings that might come before the court of said judge; or
  2. b.     act as such contrary to Rule 5.02 to 5.05


Rule 5.07 – A judge shall not engage in the private practice of law.  Unless prohibited by the Constitution or law, a judge may engage in the practice of any other profession provided that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with judicial functions.

  • Includes preparation of pleadings or papers in anticipation of litigation, and giving of legal advice to clients or persons needing the same.
  • Not engage in notarial work. Exception: “Notaries public ex-oficio” – may engage only in notarization of documents connected with the exercise of their official functions. Provided, all notarial fees on account of the government and certification attesting to lack of any lawyer or Notary Public.
  • Sworn statement of assets and liabilities including statement of amounts and services of income, the amount of personal and family expenses and the amount of income tax is paid for the next preceding calendar year.


Rule 5.08 – A judge shall make full financial disclosure as required by law.


Rule 5.09 – A judge shall not accept appointment or designation to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.


Rule 5.10 – A judge is entitled to entertain personal views on political questions.  But to avoid suspicion of political partisanship, a judge shall not make political speeches, contribute to party funds, publicly endorse candidates for political office or participate in other partisan political activities.


All judges shall strictly comply with this code



This code, promulgated on 5 September 1989, shall take effect on 20 October 1989.

  • An administrative case against a judge is not necessarily dismissed by the withdrawal by or desistance of the complainant.
  • Retirement, resignation or promotion of a judge does not necessarily render moot and academic all the cases against him.
  • Civil Liabilities Re Official Functions:
  1. obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs the civil rights.
  2. Willful or negligent rendition of a decision which causes damages to another
  3. For damages: rendering/neglecting to decide a case causing loss to a party.
  • Civil Code Disabilities:

Rule:  Can’t purchase properties subject of litigation is his court.

Exception: Does not apply where the subject property was not acquired from any of the parties to the case, nor will it apply when the litigation is already finished.

But… while in a technical sense, the judge may not have acquired the property in litigation in a case before him, nevertheless, it is improper for him to have done so under the canons of judicial ethics.

  • Donations made to a judge by reason of his office are void.
  • Taking advantage of his position to boost his candidacy amounts to gross misconduct.
  • Cannot serve as officers or advisers of political groups.

Criminal Liabilities of Judges

  • Malfeasance under the RPC:
  1. Knowingly Rendering Unjust Judgment (Art. 204, RPC)

            The elements are:

  1. that the officer is a judge;
  2. that he renders judgment in a case submitted to him for decision;
  3. that the judgment is unjust;
  4. the judge knows that his judgment is unjust.
  1. Judgment Rendered Through Negligence (Art. 205, RPC)

            The elements are:

  1. that the offender is a judge;
  2. that he renders judgment in a case submitted to him for decision
  3. that the judgment is manifestly unjust;
  4. that is due to his inexcusable negligence or ignorance.

Notaries Public 

  • Powers and Duties of a Notary Public

Section 241 of the Revised Administrative Act enumerates the General Powers of a Notary Public:

  1. To administer all oaths and affirmations provided for by law:
    1. in all matters incident to his notarial office;
    2. in the execution of:
      1. affidavits
      2. depositions
      3. other documents requiring an oath
  1. To receive proof or acknowledgment of all writings relating to commerce, such as
    1. ships, vessels or boats:
      1. Bills of Exchange
      2. Bottomries
      3. Mortgages
      4. Hypothecations
      5. charter parties or affreightments
      6. letters of attorney
      7. land/buildings or interest therein:
        1. deeds
        2. mortgages
        3. transfers and assignments
        4. other writings as are commonly provided or acknowledged before notaries.

3. To act as magistrate in the writing of affidavits or depositions

4. To make declarations and certify the truth thereof under his seal of office,   concerning all matters done by him in virtue of his office.

  • The law imposes on the notary public two kinds of duties:
  1. execution of formalities required by law; and
  2. verification of the capacity and identity of the parties as well as the legality of the act executed.
  • Extent of Jurisdiction of a Notary Public:

Under the Notarial Law, the jurisdiction of a notary public in general, used to be CO-EXTENSIVE with the province for which he was commissioned; and for the notary public in the City of Manila, the jurisdiction is CO-EXTENSIVE with said city. Circular 8 of 1985 however, clarified further that the notary public may be commissioned for the same term only by one court within the Metro Manila region.

  • Q: Must a Notary Public always be a LAWYER?

A: General Rule: Only those admitted to the practice of law are qualified to be notaries public.

Exception: When there are no persons with the necessary qualifications OR where there are qualified persons but refuse appointment. In which case, the following persons may be appointed as notaries:

  1. those who have passed the studies of law in a reputable university
  2. a clerk or deputy clerk of court for a period of not less than two years
  • Effects of NOTARIZATION
  1. The notary, in effect, proclaims to the world:
    1. that all the parties therein personally appeared before him
    2. that they are personally known to him
    3. that they are the same persons who executed the instrument
    4. that he inquired into the voluntariness of the execution of the instrument; and
    5. that they acknowledged personally before him that they voluntarily and freely executed the same
    6. 2.      Converts a private document into a public one and renders it admissible in court without further proof of its authenticity. (Joson vs. Baltazar)
    7. 3.      Documents enjoy a presumption of regularity. It constitutes prima facie evidence of the facts which give rise to their execution and of the date of said execution, but not of the truthfulness of the statements. The reason for the former presumption is that the law assumes that the act which the officer witnesses and certified to or the date written by him are not shown to be false since notaries are public officers.



Legal Ethics Reviewer



About Magz

First of all, I am not a lawyer. I'm a graduate of AB Political Science and went to the College of Law but stopped going to law school for some reasons. I'm a passionate teacher who has been teaching English to speakers of other languages and a person who likes writing and blogging. I lost some important files and software when my computer broke down so the reason I created this website is to preserve the notes, reviewers and digests I collected when I was at the law school and at the same time, I want to help out law students who do not have enough time to go and read books in the library.

Posted on January 30, 2012, in Legal Ethics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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