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Lawyer’s duty & discretion in procedure, C1S5 CPRA

Section 5, Canon I

SECTION 5. Lawyer’s duty and discretion in procedure. -A lawyer shall not allow the client to dictate or determine the procedure in handling the case.
Nevertheless, a lawyer shall respect the client’s decision to settle or compromise the case after explaining its consequences to the client. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)

1. Lawyer’s duty and discretion in procedure

a. No to allowing client to dictate or determine procedure in handling the case

Lawyers are responsible and accountable for a case. The bucket stops with the handling lawyers, so to speak.

The Supreme Court was appalled at the [respondent-lawyer’s] boldness in saying that his failure to file the position paper in the tenancy case was due to the complainant’s fault. He lost sight of the fact that he was engaged by the complainant to plead his case in the tenancy dispute in the way he (respondent) believed the case should be handled, not in any other way. Under the [old Code of Professional Responsibility], a lawyer “shall not allow his client to dictate the procedure in handling the case.” Thus, we cannot accept his lame excuse that the complainant failed to provide him with the documents he needed in the preparation of the position paper and that he and the complainant had a difference of opinion on how the case should be handled. Notably, even the Investigator recognized that the complainant submitted documents to the respondent; whatever was lacking could not be submitted as the complainant could not even contact the respondent despite repeated attempts. (Olvida v. Gonzales, En Banc, A.C. No. 5732, 16 June 2015)

[Respondent-lawyer] refers to the alleged obnoxious attitude of complainant in trying to manipulate the manner in which he was handling the case as the main reason for his failure to formally offer his exhibits in contravention of the order of the court. But respondent should bear in mind that while a lawyer owes utmost zeal and devotion to the interest of his client, he also has the responsibility of employing only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and he should not allow the latter to dictate the procedure in handling the case. (Fernandez v. Novero, A.C. No. 5394, 02 December 2002)

b. Respect client’s decision to settle or compromise the case

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser—in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” – Abraham Lincoln, Lawyer and 16th U.S. President

1) Continue to protect client’s interest

Until an amicable settlement is signed, notarized, and submitted to the court (if applicable), lawyers should continue to protect their client’s interest. This is to safeguard against manipulation by the other party who intends to prejudice the lawyer’s client under the pretext of an amicable settlement and thereafter withdrawing at the last minute.

Indeed, it is the duty of a lawyer to encourage his clients to avoid, end or settle a controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement. However, the same must be done in a manner that will not cause prejudice to the other party. In this case, respondent’s failure to attend several hearings on the pretext that he was exploring the possibility of amicable settlement between the contending parties, resulted in the dismissal of complainant’s suit. (Pineda v. Macapagal, A.C. No. 6026, 29 November 2005)

2) Advising acquiescence for non-meritorious cases

It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman on the intricacies and vagaries of the law, on the merit or lack of merit of his case. If he finds that his client’s cause is defenseless, then it is his bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and caprices of his client, and temper his client’s propensity to litigate. A lawyer’s oath to uphold the cause of justice is superior to his duty to his client; its primacy is indisputable. (Pacquing v. CA, Davao Light and Power Company, Inc., G.R. No L-52498, 19 July 1982)

References

Canon I, 2023 Code of Professional Responsibility

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