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TOMAS P. TAN, JR., vs. ATTY. HAIDE V.

GUMBA
A.C. No. 9000, 10 January 2018, SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION (Del Castillo, J.)

DOCTRINE OF THE CASE

It is common sense that when the Court orders the suspension of a lawyer from the practice of law, the lawyer must
desist from performing all functions which require the application of legal knowledge within the period of his or her suspension.

FACTS

In August 1999, Atty. Haide V. Gumba (Atty. Gumba) obtained from Tomas P. Tan (Tan) a
₱350,000.00 loan with 12% interest per annum. Incidental thereto, Atty. Gumba executed in favor of Tan
an undated Deed of Absolute Sale over a 105- square meter lot located in Naga City. Attached to said
Deed was a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) executed by Atty. Gumba's parents authorizing her to apply
for a loan with a bank to be secured by the subject property. The parties purportedly agreed that failure to
pay of Atty. Gumba in or before August 2000 would allow Tan to register the Deed of Absolute Sale with
the Register of Deeds (RD). Atty. Gumba failed to pay her loan despite repeated demands. Tan attempted
to register the Deed of Absolute Sale but to no avail because the SPA only covered the authority of Atty.
Gumba to mortgage the property to a bank, and not to sell it. Tan argued that Atty. Gumba committed
dishonesty, and used her skill as a lawyer and her moral ascendancy over him in securing the loan. Thus,
he prayed that Atty. Gumba be sanctioned for her infraction. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Board
of Governors (IBP-BOG) resolved to suspend Atty. Gumba’s practice of law for one year. The Court
reduced the penalty to six months. Despite the suspension, Atty. Gumba continued to represent her clients
and appear in courts. She denied that she was suspended to practice law since she had not yet received a
copy of the Court's resolution on the matter.

ISSUE

Is Atty. Gumba administratively liable for engaging in the practice of law during the period of her
suspension and prior to an order of the Court lifting such suspension?

RULING

YES. Here, the Court notified Atty. Gumba of her suspension. However, she continued to engage
in the practice law by filing pleadings and appearing as counsel in courts during the period of her
suspension. It is common sense that when the Court orders the suspension of a lawyer from the practice
of law, the lawyer must desist from performing all functions which require the application of legal
knowledge within the period of his or her suspension. To stress, by practice of law, we refer to "any activity,
in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training, and
experience. It includes performing acts which are characteristic of the legal profession, or rendering any
kind of service which requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill.'' In fine, it will amount to
unauthorized practice, and a violation of a lawful order of the Court if a suspended lawyer engages in the
practice of law during the pendency of his or her suspension.

Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the bar may be disbarred or
suspended from practice of law for willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, among
other grounds. Here, respondent willfully disobeyed the Court's lawful orders by failing to comply with
the order of her suspension, and to the Court's directive to observe the guidelines for the lifting thereof.
Pursuant to prevailing Jurisprudence, the suspension for six (6) months from the practice of law against
respondent is in order.