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Disclosure of relationship or connection, C2S20 CPRA

Section 20, Canon II

SECTION 20. Disclosure of relationship or connection. – A lawyer shall, at the first available opportunity, formally disclose on record the lawyer’s relationship or connection with the presiding officer of any court, tribunal, or other government agency, or any of its personnel, or the lawyer’s partners, associates, or clients, that may serve as a ground for mandatory inhibition in any pending proceeding before such court, tribunal, or other goven1ment agency. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)

1. Disclosure of relationship or connection

At the first available opportunity, and if it may serve as a ground for mandatory inhibition in any pending proceeding before such court, tribunal, or other government agency, lawyers are required and duty-bound to formally disclose on record:

1) The lawyer’s relationship or connection with the presiding officer of any court, tribunal, or other government agency, or any of its personnel; or

2) The lawyer’s partners, associates, or clients.

a. Active obligation to disclose

The disclosure requirement is an active obligation, which means that lawyers have to do so without need of any prodding, order, or instruction from any one, including the judge, presiding officer, or hearing officer.

It should be noted that the obligation here is to disclose, and not necessarily recuse or excuse the lawyer from continuing to handle a case. After making such active disclosure, it is up to the court, tribunal, or government agency to decide following their rules of procedure.

b. Extent of relationship

The provision does not state the coverage of relationship, whether it is up to the 3rd or 4th civil degree or more, and whether it extends to both consanguinity and affinity.

Notwithstanding, since the purpose is connected to mandatory inhibition, the appropriate rules or procedure on the concerned court, tribunal, or other government agency should be examined to determine the extent of relationship covered by the grounds for mandatory inhibition. If there are none, and by way of suppletory application, the Rules of Court may apply.

d. Partners

The handling partner or partner in-charge of handling a case, as well as the other partners, are required to actively disclose if they have any relationship with the presiding officer or its personnel, which may be a ground for mandatory inhibition on a matter pending proceeding before such court, tribunal, or other government agency.

e. Associates

Both junior and senior associates in a law firm are required to actively disclose if they have any relationship with the presiding officer or its personnel, which may be a ground for mandatory inhibition on a matter pending proceeding before such court, tribunal, or other government agency.

f. Clients

Lawyers should formally ask their clients if they have any relationship with the presiding officer or its personnel, which may be a ground for mandatory inhibition on a matter pending proceeding before such court, tribunal, or other government agency.

References

Canon II, 2023 Code of Professional Responsibility

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