March 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are select March 2013 rulings of the Philippine Supreme Court on legal and judicial ethics:

Attorney; a lawyer shall not assist in the unauthorized practice of law.  Atty. Bancolo admitted that the Complaint he filed for a former client before the Office of the Ombudsman was signed in his name by a secretary of his law office. He likewise categorically stated that because of some minor lapses, the communications and pleadings filed against Tapay and Rustia were signed by his secretary, albeit with his tolerance. Clearly, he violated Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), which provides:

CANON 9 – A LAWYER SHALL NOT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ASSIST IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW.

Rule 9.01 – A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing.

Atty. Bancolo’s authority and duty to sign a pleading are personal to him. Although he may delegate the signing of a pleading to another lawyer, he may not delegate it to a non-lawyer. Further, under the Rules of Court, a counsel’s signature serves as a certification that (1) he has read the pleading; (2) to the best of his knowledge, information and belief there is good ground to support it; and (3) it is not interposed for delay. Thus, by affixing one’s signature to a pleading, it is counsel alone who has the responsibility to certify to these matters and give legal effect to the document. For violating rule 9.01 of the CPR, Atty. Bacolo was meted with the penalty the suspension from the practice of law for one year. Rodrigo E. Tapay and Anthony J. Rustia v. Attys. Charlie Bancolo and Janus Jarder; A.C. No. 9604. March 20, 2013.

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