Thursday, March 08, 2012

Northwestern University Inc. vs. Arquillo

Facts: Ben Nicolas submitted a letter-complaint with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines against Atty. Macario Arquillo for deceit,malpractice,gross misconduct and violation of his oath as Atty by representing conflicting interest. 

It is alleged that in a case before the NLRC Atty Arquillo represented both complainants & defendants.He is represented 7 complainants & also represented 1 of the respondents/ defendants, Jose Castroin the same consolidated case. 

Commissioner Dennis Funa found Atty. Arquillo guilty & recommended suspension for 6 months. The Board of Governors of IBP modified the suspension to 2 years. 

Issue: Whether or not Atty. Arquillo is guilty to warrant the suspension 

Held: YES. The Code of Professional Responsibility requires lawyers to observe candor, fairness & loyalty in all their dealings with their clients. Corollary to his duty,they should not represent conflicting interests, except with all the concerned client’s written consent, given after a full disclosure of facts. 

When a lawyer represents 2 or more opposing parties, there is a conflict of interests , the existence of which determined by 3 separate tests: (1) when, in representation of one client, a lawyer is required to fight for an issue or claim, but is also duty-bound to oppose it for another client; (2) when the acceptance of the new retainer will require an attorney to perform an act that may injuriously that affect the client or, when called upon in a new relation, to use against the first one any knowledge acquired through their professional connection; or (3) when the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of an attorney’s duty to give undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or would invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance of that duty. 

In this case, Atty. Arquillo represented both parties. He even filed a motion to dismiss in behalf of 1 respondent, Jose Castro and drafted a position paper in behalf of 7 complainants. His acts cannot be justified even by the fact that Jose Castro was absolved from the complaints. It cannot be denied that he represented 2 opposing parties. 

An attorney cannot represent adverse interests. It is a hornbook doctrine grounded on public policy that a lawyer’s representation of both sides of an issue is highly improper. The proscription applies when the conflicting interests arise with respect to the same general matter, however slight such conflict may be. It applies even when the attorney acts from honest intentions or in good faith.

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