Foronda v. Alvarez A.C. No. 9976, June 25, 2014

Facts:  The complainant institute a case for the nullification of her marriage. The respondent was referred to her and the complainant agreed to engage his services for a fee of ₱195,000.00. The complainant averred that the respondent promised to file the petition after he received the full payment of his attorney’s fee. The complainant inquired about the status of her case and was allegedly told by the respondent that her petition was pending in court; and in another time, she was told that a decision by the court was already forthcoming. However, when she came back to the country in May 2009, the respondent told her that her petition was still pending in court and apologized for the delay. Eventually, the complainant was able to get a copy of her petition and found out that it was filed a year later. The complainant further alleged in her complaint that the week after she signed the contract of service with the respondent, the latter requested for a meeting. Thinking that they were going to discuss her case, she agreed. But during the meeting, the respondent invited her to be an investor in the lending business allegedly ran by the respondent’s sister-in-law which he said can earn five percent (5%) interest per month. According to the complainant, upon presentment of these checks, the drawee-bank honored the first two (2) checks, but the rest were dishonored for being drawn against a closed account. When she brought the matter to the respondent, he promised to pay her in cash. He actually paid her certain amounts as interest through her representative. Nevertheless, the respondent failed to pay the entire obligation as promised.

Issue: Whether the delay of filing of the petition and issuance of worthless check constitute disbarment to the Respondent?

Held: No, the Court finds that the penalty of six months suspension only from the practice of law is commensurate, with a stem warning that a repetition of any of the infractions attributed to him in this case, or any similar act, shall merit a heavier penalty. The Court very well takes note of the fact that the criminal charges filed against the respondent have been dismissed upon an affidavit of desistance executed by the complainant. The Court also acknowledges that he dutifully participated in the proceedings before the IBP-CBD and that he completely settled his obligation to the complainant, as evidenced by the Acknowledgment Receipt signed by the complainant’s counsel. Therein, it was acknowledged that the respondent paid the amount of ₱650,000.00 in payment for the checks he issued in favor of the complainant; for the attorney’s fees he received for the annulment case; and cost and expenses that the complainant incurred in relation to the cases the latter filed against the respondent including the instant complaint with the IBP. The respondent was able to file, albeit belatedly, the complainant’s petition. In addition, he returned in full the money he received as attorney’s fee in spite of having gone through all the trouble of preparing the required petition and in filing the same – not to mention the cost he incurred for the purpose.



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