Thursday, December 18, 2014

Conflict of interest; lawyer suspended - 9395.pdf

See - 9395.pdf

"x x x.

Based on the established facts, it is indubitable that respondent transgressed Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It provides:

Rule 15.03 -A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. 

"A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client." 11 

The prohibition against representing conflicting interests is absolute and the rule applies even if the lawyer has acted in good faith and with no intention to represent conflicting interests. 12 In Quiambao v. Atty. Bamba, 13 this Court emphasized that lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. 14

Respondent argues that while complainant is a client of Davis & Sabling Law office, her case is actually handled only by his partner Atty. Sabling. He was not privy to any transaction between Atty. Sabling and complainant and has no knowledge of any information or legal matter complainant entrusted or confided to his law partner. He thus inveigles that he could not have taken advantage of an information obtained by his law firm by virtue of the Retainer Agreement.

We are not impressed. In Hilado v. David, 15 reiterated in Gonzales v. Atty. Cabucana, Jr., 16 this Court held that a lawyer who takes up the cause of the adversary of the party who has engaged the services of his law firm brings the law profession into public disrepute and suspicion and 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 complainant, even assuming it to be true, is of no moment. xxx.

The penalty for representing conflicting interests may either be reprimand or suspension from the practice of law ranging from six months to two years. 17 We thus adopt the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors. 

x x x."