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False representations or statements, duty to correct, C2S11 CPRA

Section 11, Canon II

SECTION 11. False representations or statements; duty to correct. – A lawyer shall not make false representations or statements. A lawyer shall be liable for any material damage caused by such false representations or statements.
A lawyer shall not, in demand letters or other similar correspondence, make false representations or statements, or impute civil, criminal, or administrative liability, without factual or legal basis.
A lawyer shall correct false or inaccurate statements and information made in relation to an application for admission to the bar, any pleading, or any other document required by or submitted to the court, tribunal or agency, as soon as its falsity or inaccuracy is discovered or made known to him or her. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)

1. False representations or statements; duty to correct

a. No making of false representations or statements

A lawyer shall not make false representations or statements. (CPRA, Section 11, Canon II)

The rule is broad and does not admit of any qualifications.  Meaning, lawyers are prohibited from making false representations or statements, at any time, at any occasion, and at any place. For clarity, this obligation is universal and is therefore not limited to those involving courts, tribunals, and other government agencies.

Madria v. Rivera, A.C. No. 11256, 07 March 2017:

• The [respondent-lawyer] would shift the blame to his client. That a lay person like the complainant could have swayed a lawyer like the respondent into committing the simulations was patently improbable. Yet, even if he had committed the simulations upon the client’s prodding, he would be no less responsible. Being a lawyer, he was aware of and was bound by the ethical canons of the [old Code of Professional Responsibility], particularly those quoted earlier, which would have been enough to deter him from committing the falsification, as well as to make him unhesitatingly frustrate her prodding in deference to his sworn obligation as a lawyer to always act with honesty and to obey the laws of the land. Surely, too, he could not have soon forgotten his express undertaking under his [old] Lawyer’s Oath to “do no falsehood, nor consent to its commission.

1) Liability for material damage cause by false representations or statements

If found guilty, lawyers are liable for any material damage caused by such false representations or statements.

b. Demand letters or other similar correspondence

Demand letters – refer to written communications by a lawyer on behalf of a client demanding the performance of an obligation against another.

Similar correspondence – include all other correspondences by a lawyer on behalf of a client or pursuant to an engagement, other than a demand letter.

In demand letters or other similar correspondence, lawyers are prohibited from making false representations or statements, or impute civil, criminal, or administrative liability, without factual or legal basis.

Accordingly, lawyers should exercise caution in writing demand letters as they impact recipients, who may experience anxiety and distress. If there are no factual or legal basis to the demand, then the responsible lawyers unnecessarily put another in such a psychological state.

See related:

• Use of dignified, gender-fair, and child- and culturally-sensitive language, C2S4 CPRA

c. Correct false or inaccurate statements and information

As soon as falsity or inaccuracy is discovered or made known, the CPRA imposes an active obligation on lawyers to correct false or inaccurate statements and information made in relation to:

1) An application for admission to the bar;

2) Any pleading; or

3) Any other document required by or submitted to the court, tribunal or agency.

NB: Since it is an active obligation, it behooves on the lawyers to perform such obligation without need of any order or instruction from the courts or the Supreme Court.

References

Canon II, 2023 Code of Professional Responsibility

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