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Extension of time to file, C4S7 CPRA

Section 7, Canon IV

SECTION 7. Extension of time to file. -A  lawyer shall avoid asking for an extension of time to file any pleading, motion, or other court submission, except when allowed by the Rules of Court or for good cause.
When an extension is obtained, the lawyer shall not let the period lapse without submitting the pleading, motion, or other court submission, except upon the client’s decision not to pursue the case any further or for other justifiable cause. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)

1. Extension of time to file

a. Avoid asking for extension of time

Under this section, lawyers are enjoined to “avoid asking for an extension of time to file any pleading, motion, or other court submission, except when allowed by the Rules of Court or for good cause.”

1) If extension is obtained

If lawyers successfully obtain an extension of time, they are prohibited from letting “the period lapse without submitting the pleading, motion, or other court submission, except upon the client’s decision not to pursue the case any further or for other justifiable cause.”

b. Dilatory tactics

Advocacy, within the bounds of the law, permits the attorney to use any arguable construction of the law or rules which is favorable to his client. But the lawyer is not allowed to knowingly advance a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law. He cannot prosecute patently frivolous and meritless appeals or institute clearly groundless actions (Annotated Code of Professional Responsibility 310 [1979]). Professional rules impose limits on a lawyer’s zeal and hedge it with necessary restrictions and qualifications (Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics 579-582 [1986]). (Millare v. Montero, A.C. No. 3283, July 13, 1995, Per Quiason, J.)

[I]t is unethical for a lawyer to abuse or wrongfully use the judicial process – such as the filing of dilatory motions, repetitious litigation, and frivolous appeals – for the sole purpose of frustrating and delaying the execution of a judgment. (AVIDA Land Corporation v. Argosino, A.C. No. 7437, August 17, 2016, Per Sereno, CJ., citing Millare v. Montero, A.C. No. 3283, July 13, 1995)

Millare v. Montero, A.C. No. 3283, July 13, 1995, Per Quiason, J.:

• The rights of respondent’s client in Civil Case No. 844 of the MTC were fully protected and her defenses were properly ventilated when he filed the appeal from the MTC to the RTC. But respondent thereafter resorted to devious and underhanded means to delay the execution of the judgment rendered by the MTC adverse to his client. The said decision became executory even pending its appeal with the RTC because of the failure of Co to file a supersedeas bond and to pay the monthly rentals as they fell due. Furthermore, his petition for annulment of the decisions of the MTC and RTC which he filed with the CA (CA-G.R. No. 11690) was defective and dilatory. According to the CA, there was no allegation therein that the courts had no jurisdiction, that his client was denied due process, or “that the judgments in the former cases were secured through fraud.”

• Moreover, when the CA ordered that the records of the case be remanded, respondent knew very well that the decision of the MTC was already ripe for execution.

• Respondent filed a total of six appeals, complaints or petitions to frustrate the execution of the MTC judgment in Civil Case No. 844…

• By having wilfully and knowingly abused his rights of recourse in his efforts to get a favorable judgment, which efforts were all rebuffed, respondent violated the duty of a member of the Bar to institute actions only which are just and put up such defenses as he perceives to be truly contestable under the laws…

AVIDA Land Corporation v. Argosino, A.C. No. 7437, August 17, 2016, Per Sereno, CJ., citing Millare v. Montero, A.C. No. 3283, July 13, 1995)

• Respondent is guilty of profession[al] misconduct.

• Despite the simplicity of the issue involved in the HLURB case, the path towards its resolution became long, tedious, and frustrating because of the deliberate attempts of respondent to delay the actual execution of the judgment therein. He continued to file pleadings over issues already passed upon even after being enjoined not to do so, and made unfounded accusations of bias or procedural defects. These acts manifest his propensity to disregard the authority of a tribunal and abuse court processes, to the detriment of the administration of justice.

• The defense that respondent is merely defending the cause of his client is untenable.

• As a lawyer, respondent indeed owes fidelity to the cause of his client and is expected to serve the latter with competence and diligence. As such, respondent is entitled to employ every honorable means to defend the cause of his client and secure what is due the latter.

• Respondent cannot hide behind the pretense of advocating his client’s cause to escape liability for his actions that delayed and frustrated the administration of justice.

• He even attempted to tum the tables on complainant by pointing out that the “legal blunders” of the latter’s counsel contributed to the delay in the execution of the judgment. Whether or not the actions or omissions of complainant’s counsel brought dire consequences to its client’s cause is not a factor in the instant case. Even assuming for argument’s sake that complainant’s counsel committed procedural errors that prolonged some of the case incidents, these errors did not prejudice the delivery of justice, as they were later cured. More important, the so-called “blunders” were independent of respondent’s actions, which were the direct cause of the delay.

• Respondent argues that he could not have possibly delayed the execution of the judgment, as no Motion for Execution of Judgment had been filed when the instant administrative case was instituted. This argument can no longer be considered viable, as he continued to employ dilatory tactics even after the Writ of Execution had already been issued, and complainant later filed Supplemental Complaints against him.

• What is patent from the acts of respondent – as herein narrated and evident from the records – is that he has made a mockery of judicial processes, disobeyed judicial orders, and ultimately caused unjust delays in the administration of justice…

• Further, respondent violated the Lawyer’s Oath by disobeying the legal orders of a duly constituted authority, and disregarding his sworn duty to “delay no man for money or malice.”

References

Canon IV, 2023 Code of Professional Responsibility

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