SECTION 23. Instituting multiple cases; forum shopping. – A lawyer shall not knowingly engage or through gross negligence in forum shopping, which offends against the administration of justice, and is a falsehood foisted upon the court, tribunal, or other government agency.
A lawyer shall not institute or advise the client to institute multiple cases to gain leverage in a case, to harass a party, to delay the proceedings, or to increase the cost of litigation. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)
Forum shopping is committed by a party who institutes two or more suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition or increase a party’s chances of obtaining a favorable decision or action.39 It is an act of malpractice that is prohibited and condemned because it trifles with the courts, abuses their processes, degrades the administration of justice, and adds to the already congested court dockets. (Heirs of Mampo v. Morada, G.R. No. 21456, November 03, 2020, Per Caguioa, J.)
Forum shopping “offends against the administration of justice, and is a falsehood foisted upon the court, tribunal, or other government agency.” (CPRA, Section 23, Canon II)
Whether knowingly or via gross negligence, lawyers are prohibited from engaging in forum shopping.
Lawyers are prohibited from instituting or advising the client to institute multiple cases:
1) to gain leverage in a case,
2) to harass a party,
3) to delay the proceedings, or
4) to increase the cost of litigation.
Lawyers are prohibited from instituting or advising the client to institute multiple cases to gain leverage in a case.
For example, unscrupulous employers may resort to weaponizing the law by filing baseless criminal complaints against former employee who filed a labor case for purposes of leveraging the criminal case against these employees.
In filing multiple petitions before various courts concerning the same subject matter, the respondent violated Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that a lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. He also violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04 of the Code, as well as a lawyer’s mandate “to delay no man for money or malice.” (Foronda v. Guerrero, A.C. No. 5469, 10 August 2004)
Lawyers are prohibited from instituting or advising the client to institute multiple cases to harass a party.
This gains importance if the opposing party has limited financial means and thus will be unable to address multiple cases.
Lawyers are prohibited from instituting or advising the client to institute multiple cases to delay the proceedings.
A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter’s interest with utmost diligence. In failing to file the appellant’s brief on behalf of his client, respondent had fallen far short of his duties as counsel as set forth in Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of [the old Code of Professional Responsibility] which exhorts every member of the Bar not to unduly delay a case and to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. (Figueras v. Jimenez, A.C. No. 9116, 12 March 2014)
The duties transgressed by Atty. Lavadia fall under those duties to his client and to the court. This Court notes Atty. Lavadia’s propensity for filing motions for extension of time to file pleadings but failing to file the same, in violation of Rule 12.03 of the CPR. (Enriquez v. Lavadia, A.C. No. 5686, 16 June 2015)
When, after obtaining an extension of time to file comment on the complaint, respondent failed to file any and ignored this Court’s subsequent show cause order, he violated Rule 12.03. (Vaflor-Fabroa v. Paguinto, A.C. No. 6273, 15 March 2010)
A lawyer who failed to file a pre-trial brief and other pleadings, such as position papers, leading to the dismissal of the case with six months suspension, was penalized. (Conlu v. Aredonia, A.C. No. 4955, 12 September 2011)
A lawyer was penalized for inexcusable negligence, the latter having failed to file a pre-trial brief leading to the dismissal of the case and failure to prosecute in another case, and omitting to apprise complainant of the status of the two cases with assurance of his diligent attention to them. (Conlu v. Aredonia , supra.)
Filing multiple actions constitutes an abuse of the Court’s processes. It constitutes improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade justice. Those who file multiple or repetitive actions subject themselves to disciplinary action for incompetence or willful violation of their duties as attorneys to act with all good fidelity to the courts, and to maintain only such actions that appear to be just and consistent with truth and honor. (Olivares v. Villalon, Jr., A.C. No. 6323, 13 April 2007)
By arguing a case that has already been rejected repeatedly, he abused his right of recourse to the courts. His acts of not conducting himself “to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity to the courts” constitute serious transgression of his professional oath. (In Re: G.R. No. 157659, Mallari v. GSIS, supra.)
Avida Land Corporation v. Argosino, A.C. No. 7437, 17 August 2016:
• In Foronda v. Guerrrero, the respondent’s therein was suspended for two years from the practice of law for filing multiple petitions before various courts concerning the same subject matter in violation of Canon 12 and Rule 12.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
• In Saladaga v. Astorga, the respondent was found guilty of (1) breach of the Lawyer’s Oath; (2) unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct; and (3) disrespect for the Court and causing the undue delay of cases. For these offenses, a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for two years, as recommended by the IBP, was imposed.
• In Saa v. IBP, the petitioner was found to have violated Canon 12, Rule 12.04. and Rule 1.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for delaying the resolution of a case. He was also suspended from practice of law for one year.
Lawyers are prohibited from instituting or advising the client to institute multiple cases to increase the cost of litigation.
This prohibition applies to the lawyer’s own client for purposes of increasing the billing, as well as to the opposing party as part of an overall strategy to win by bankrupting or cause severe financial strain.