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Authority of lawyer to appear, C3S5 CPRA

Section 5, Canon III

SECTION 5. Authority of lawyer to appear. – A lawyer is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he or she appears, and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him or her to appear in court for the client.
The court, tribunal, or other government agency may, on its own initiative or on motion of either party, on just cause, require a lawyer to produce or prove the authority to appear on behalf of the client. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)

1. Authority of lawyer to appear

a. Presumption of authority to represent

Under this section, there is a presumption that lawyers are “properly authorized to represent any cause in which he or she appears, and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him or her to appear in court for the client.”

It has been held that as a logical corollary of the presumption that a lawyer is authorized to appear for the party he represents, it is also presumed that the lawyer is authorized by, and has conferred with, his client regarding the case before he files an important responsive pleading for and on behalf of the latter. (Cebu Stevedoring Company, Inc. v. Ramolete, G.R. No. L-56627, August 17, 1981, Per Teehankee, Acting CJ.)

Cebu Stevedoring Company, Inc. v. Ramolete, G.R. No. L-56627, August 17, 1981, Per Teehankee, Acting CJ.:

• On October 11, 1978, herein private respondent Multifarms Agro- Industrial Development Corporation filed a complaint (as plaintiff for consignation against herein petitioner (as defendant) in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, presided by respondent judge.

• After issues had been joined, wherein only a question of law was involved – the proper interpretation of Customs Administrative Order No. 8, series 1974, dated May 27, 1973 – so that respondent court simply required the parties to submit affidavit and counter- affidavit together with their documentary evidence in support thereof, judgment was rendered in favor of herein respondent, to wit: “l. Declaring (a) the liability of the plaintiff to the defendant to be in the sum of P9,783.33; (b) defendant’s Invoice No. 4917 dated July 14, 1978 as CANCELLED; (c) the amount of P4,743.33 as validly consignated with the office of the Clerk of Court to be added to the advance payment of P5,000.00 and applied as fun payment of plaintiff’s liability to the defendant under par. (c) above; 2. Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff damages by way of attorney’s fees in the sum of P1,000.00; and dismissing defendant’s counterclaim for lack of merit.”

• On December 10, 1980, well within the reglementary period to perfect the appeal, petitioner, thru counsel Malilong, filed with the trial court a notice of appeal, stating its intention to elevate the case to the Supreme Court on questions of law. The petitioner thru same counsel also filed on the same date the record on appeal and paid the appeal bond, thereby seasonably perfecting the appeal.

• On December 13, 1980, respondent filed its opposition to the appeal alleging that the notice of appeal as well as the record on appeal were not signed by Atty. Valentin Zozobrado, the counsel of record and that there was no showing that the appeal bond had been paid.

• To show that the appeal bond had in fact been paid timely on December 10, 1980, petitioner, on December 19, 1980 filed its notice of filing cash appeal bond, attaching thereto the confirmatory receipt 1 dated December 10, 1980 as issued by the Clerk of Court of the Court of First Instance of Cebu in lieu of Official Receipt No. 3677371 for P120.00 issued by the Provincial Treasurer’s Office to whom the appeal bond was paid, as said official receipt had to be retained by the Clerk of Court. On the same day, lawyer Francisco Malilong, Jr. filed a formal notice of appearance as counsel for the defendant in collaboration with Atty. Valentin A. Zozobrado, the first counsel of record.

• After a period of more than two months, or on February 26, 1981, respondent Multifarms filed a motion for execution alleging that judgment had already become final and executory on the alleged ground that “the defendant was not able to file a notice of appeal and record on appeal within the 30-day reglementary period to perfect the appeal.” On March 3, 1981, herein petitioner filed an Opposition to the motion for execution contending, as above stated, that it had timely perfected its appeal on December 10, 1980, well within the prescribed period.

• On March 16, 1981, respondent judge issued his challenged order denying the appeal and ordering the issuance of a writ of execution on the ground that “while indeed the notice of appeal and the record on appeal were filed on time and the appeal bond was also paid on time, the same were of no force and effect since the lawyer who signed the same was not the attorney of record.”

• The question for determination is whether the lack of a formal written notice of appearance by the collaborating lawyer for herein petitioner, Atty. Malilong Jr., would affect adversely the validity of the appeal timely perfected by such counsel.

• [T]he fact that no formal written entry of appearance has been filed by a new collaborating counsel or that the same was filed only after he had filed certain pleadings could not seriously affect, much less nullify the validity of the acts and the pleadings filed by the appearing attorney – as wrongly held by respondent judge. (At most, the judge could compel the attorney to file a formal written notice of appearance, in addition to his appearance through the pleadings filed by him.)

• It has thus been categorically ruled in Ong Ching vs. Ramolete, etc. et al. that “while it may be desirable in the in interest of an orderly conduct of judicial proceedings that a counsel for a party should file with the court his formal written appearance in the case, before filing a pleading therein, or mention in said pleading that he is submitting the same in collaboration with the counsel of record, the mere circumstance that such acts were not done does not warrant the conclusion that the pleading filed by such counsel has no legal effect whatsoever.”

• It has been held that as a logical corollary of the presumption that a lawyer is authorized to appear for the party he represents, it is also presumed that the lawyer is authorized by, and has conferred with, his client regarding the case before he files an important responsive pleading for and on behalf of the latter.

• If respondent judge entertained any serious doubt on the authority of Atty. Malilong even after the latter had formally entered his appearance in writing as collaborating counsel for the therein petitioner, nine days after the perfection of the appeal, respondent judge should have required the said attorney to produce or prove his authority, in accordance with the above-quoted Rule.

• Respondent judge in ruling that the appeal seasonably perfected by Atty. Malilong on behalf of petitioner was “of no force and effect” notwithstanding that petitioner indubitably proved at the reconsideration hearing that Atty. Malilong had been duly employed as petitioner’s legal counsel since February 16, 1980 at P2,500.00 per month, and in dismissing the appeal, manifestly erred and acted with grave abuse of discretion.

b. When may be required to produce/prove authority to appear

Notwithstanding the general rule on presumption of authority to represent, courts, tribunals, or other government agencies “may, on its own initiative or on motion of either party, on just cause, require a lawyer to produce or prove the authority to appear on behalf of the client.”

The presumption in favor of the counsel’s authority to appear in behalf of a client is a strong one. A lawyer is not even required to present a written authorization from the client. In fact, the absence of a formal notice of entry of appearance will not invalidate the acts performed by the counsel in his client’s name. However, the court, on its own initiative or on motion of the other party require a lawyer to adduce authorization from the client. (Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Co., G.R. No. 167886, October 25, 2005, Per Ynares-Santiago, J.)

c. Collaborating counsels

Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Co., G.R. No. 167886, October 25, 2005, Per Ynares-Santiago, J.:

• In the case at bar, the filing of a notice of entry of appearance by Attys. Montarde and Mesa, gave rise to the presumption that they have the authority to file the notice of appeal in behalf of petitioner. When their authority was challenged, they presented the SPA executed by Gilda E. Pico, Executive Vice President of LANDBANK authorizing them to represent petitioner; and the two memoranda of Atty. Danilo B. Beramo, Department Manager and Head, CARP Legal Services Department, requesting Atty. Montarde to file a notice of appeal. These documents are sufficient proof of their authority to represent petitioner’s cause. The doubt entertained by the DARAB as to when the SPA and memoranda were executed is of no consequence in view of petitioner’s vigorous assertion that it authorized said lawyers to file a notice of appeal. Indeed, even an unauthorized appearance of an attorney may be ratified by the client either expressly or impliedly. Ratification retroacts to the date of the lawyer’s first appearance and validates the action taken by him.

• The DARAB’s assertion that Attys. Montarde and Mesa cannot validly represent petitioner because there was no proper substitution of counsels, lacks merit. Petitioner never intended to replace its counsel of record, the law firm Piczon, Beramo & Associates. Though not specified in the notice, Attys. Montarde and Mesa entered their appearance as collaborating counsels.

• Likewise, the Court of Appeals erroneously applied the doctrine laid down in Sublay v. National Labor Relations Commission,18 in dismissing the petition. In Sublay, it was held that a substitution cannot be presumed from the mere filing of a notice of appearance of a new lawyer and that the representation of the first counsel of record continuous until a formal notice to change counsel is filed with the court.19 Thus, absent a formal notice of substitution, all lawyers who appeared before the court or filed pleadings in behalf of the client are considered counsels of the latter. All acts performed by them are deemed to be with the client’s consent.

• The case of Ong Ching v. Ramolete, is on all fours with the instant controversy. The trial court therein held that the period to appeal had already lapsed rendering the assailed decision final and executory because petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, though presented within the reglementary period, is without legal effect having been filed by a lawyer other than petitioner’s counsel of record. It disregarded petitioner’s written authorization belatedly filed by said new lawyer as the same was not appended to the motion for reconsideration previously filed. In debunking the ruling of the trial court, we stressed that the new counsel who filed the motion for reconsideration in behalf of the client is presumed to be authorized even if he filed no formal notice of entry of appearance. Hence, said motion effectively tolled the running of the period to appeal…

• It is evident therefore that the DARAB gravely abused its discretion in denying due course to the notice of appeal seasonably filed by Attys. Montarde and Mesa, the duly authorized counsel of petitioner. In the same vein, the affirmance by the Court of Appeals of the assailed order of the DARAB is a clear disregard of the oft repeated principle that courts should not resort to a rigid application of the rules where the end result would frustrate the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of the controversy.

Ong Ching v. Ramolete, En Banc, G.R. No. L-35356, May 18, 1973, Per Antonio, J.:

• The present case, however, does not involve a substitution of attorneys, but merely the employment by petitioner of an additional counsel. True it is, as claimed by respondents, that the motion for reconsideration filed by Atty. Hermosisima gives no indication that he was presenting his motion in collaboration with Atty. Vasquez; but neither would it indicate that by his filing of the pleading in the case, Atty. Hermosisima was replacing Atty. Vasquez as counsel for petitioner. In law it is assumed prima facie that every attorney who appears in court does so with sufficient authority. The fact that a second attorney enters an appearance on behalf of a litigant does not authorize a presumption that the authority of the first attorney has been withdrawn. There is no question that a party may have two or more lawyers working in collaboration as his counsel in a given litigation. Thus in the case at bar the certificate dated May 16, 1972, executed by Atty. Vasquez, is to the effect that he, with the consent and authority of petitioner (who signified his conformity in writing) was authorizing Atty. Hermosisima to collaborate with him in the case due to his ill health. While the said certificate was not attached to the motion for reconsideration on May 17, 1972, but was presented in court rather belatedly on June 16, 1972 as an annex to petitioner’s “Rejoinder to Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration,” respondents have not shown that the recitals of fact contained therein did not reflect the truth. At any rate, this case is different from U.S. v. Borromeo, Fojas, et al. v. Navarro, Ramos v. Potenciano, Baquiran v. Court of Appeals. Here petitioner’s counsel, Atty. Vasquez, not only affirmed his continued connection with the case, but also explained Atty. Hermosisima’s appearance as collaborating counsel. While it may be desirable in the interest of an orderly conduct of judicial proceedings, that a counsel for a party should file with the court his formal written appearance in the case, before filing a pleading therein, or mention in said pleading that he is submitting the same in collaboration with the counsel of record, the mere circumstance that such acts were not done does not warrant the conclusion that the pleading filed by such counsel has no legal effect whatsoever.

References

Canon III, 2023 Code of Professional Responsibility

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