Legal Ethics – Liabilities of Lawyers & Administrative Liabilities of Lawyers
Liabilities of Lawyers
- Civil Liability
- Client is prejudiced by lawyer’s negligence or misconduct
- Breach of fiduciary obligation
- Civil liability to third persons
- Libelous words in pleadings; violation of communication privilege
- Liability for costs of suit (treble costs) – when lawyer is made liable for insisting on client’s patently unmeritorious case or interposing appeal merely to delay litigation
- Criminal Liability
- Prejudicing client through malicious breach of professional duty
- Revealing client’s secrets
- Representing adverse interests
- Introducing false evidence
- Misappropriating client’s funds (estafa)
- Contempt of Court
a. Kinds of Contempt:
- Direct – consists of misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt or obstruct the proceedings before the court or the administration of justice; punished summarily.
- Indirect – one committed away from the court involving disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, judgment or command of the court, or tending to belittle, degrade, obstruct, interrupt or embarrass the court.
- Civil- failure to do something ordered by the court which is for the benefit of a party.
- Criminal – any conduct directed against the authority or dignity of the court.
b. Acts Constituting Contempt:
- Publication concerning pending litigation
- Publication tending to degrade the court; disrespectful language in pleadings
- Misleading the court or obstructing justice
- Unauthorized practice of law
- Belligerent attitude
- Unlawful retention of client’s funds
Administrative Liabilities of lawyers
- Main Objectives of Disbarment and Suspension:
- to compel the attorney to deal fairly and honestly with his clients;
- to remove from the profession a person whose misconduct has proved him unfit to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney;
- to punish the lawyer;
- to set an example or a warning for the other members of the bar;
- to safeguard the administration of justice from incompetent and dishonest lawyers;
- to protect the public
- Characteristics of Disbarment Proceedings:
- Neither a civil nor criminal proceedings;
- Double jeopardy cannot be availed of in a disbarment proceeding;
- It can be initiated motu propio by the SC or IBP. It can be initiated without a complaint;
- It is imprescriptible;
- Conducted confidentially;
- It can proceed regardless of the interest of the lack thereof on the part of the complainant;
- It constitutes due process.
- Grounds for Disbarment or Suspension:
- malpractice or other gross misconduct in office;
- grossly immoral conduct;
- conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;
- violation of oath of office;
- willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court;
- corrupt or willful appearance as attorney for a party to case without authority to do so (Sec. 27, Rule 138, RRC)
- Procedure for Disbarment
- Institution either by:
- the Supreme Court, motu proprio, or
- the IBP, motu proprio, or
- upon verified complaint by any person
- Six copies of the verified complaint shall be filed with the Secretary of the IBP or Secretary of any of its chapter and shall be forwarded to the IBP Board of Governors.
- Investigation by the National Grievance Investigators.
- Submission of investigative report to the IBP Board of Governors.
- Board of Governors decides within 30 days.
- Investigation by the Solicitor-General
- SC renders final decision for disbarment/suspension/dismissal.
Quantum of Proof Required: CLEAR, CONVINCING & SATISFACTORY evidence.
Burden of Proof:Rests on the COMPLAINANT, the one who instituted the suit
- Officers authorized to investigate Disbarment cases:
- Supreme Court
- IBP through its Commission on Bar Discipline or authorized investigator
- Office of the Solicitor General
- Mitigating Circumstances in Disbarment:
- Good faith in the acquisition of a property of the client subject of litigation (In re: Ruste, 70 Phil. 243)
- Inexperience of the lawyer (Munoz v. People, 53 SCRA 190)
- Age (Lantos v. Gan, 196 SCRA 16)
- Apology (Munoz v. People, 53 SCRA 190)
Lack of Intention to slight or offend the Court (Rhum of the Philippines, Inc. v. Ferrer, 20 SCRA 441).
Legal Ethics Reviewer
Posted on January 30, 2012, in Legal Ethics and tagged Legal Ethics - Liabilities of Lawyers, Legal Ethics - Liabilities of Lawyers & Administrative Liabilities of Lawyers. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.