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Terminating and Establishing

attorney-client relationship
Problem Areas in Legal Ethics
Arellano University School of Law Arellano Law Foundation
2016-2017

Nature of attorney-client relationship

An attorney-client relationship is said to exist when a lawyer


acquiesces or voluntarily permits the consultation of a
person, who in respect to a business or trouble of any kind,
consults a lawyer with a view of obtaining professional advice or
assistance.

It is not essential that the client should have employed the


lawyer on any previous occasion or that any retainer should
have been paid, promised or charged for; neither is it material
that the attorney consulted did not afterward undertake the
case about which the consultation was had, for as long as the
advice and assistance of the attorney is sought and received in
matters pertinent to his profession. - Virgo v. Atty. Amorin A.C.
No. 7861 [2009]

Can trigger a lawyer-client relationship

A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first


moment complainant asked respondent for legal advise regarding
the former's business. To constitute professional employment, it is
not essential that the client employed the attorney professionally
on any previous occasion.
It is not necessary that any retainer be paid, promised, or
charged; neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not
afterward handle the case for which his service had been sought.Hadjula v. Atty. Madianda, A.C. No. 6711
July 3, 2007

Verbal agreement

There is no gainsaying that a verbal engagement is sufficient to


create an attorney-client relationship. - Urban Bank Inc. vs. Atty.
Pena, A.C. No. 4863 [2001]

Court finds that no attorney-client


relationship exists

The relationship of complainant and [counsel] is mainly personal


or business in nature, and that whatever legal services may have
been rendered or given to them by Atty. Amorin for free were only
incidental to said relationship. Noteworthy also is the fact that
complainant was not able to specify any act or transaction in
which [counsel] acted as her or her husband's counsel. - Virgo v.
Atty. Amorin A.C. No. 7861 [2009]
There are instances, however, when the Court finds that no
attorney-client relationship exists between the parties, such as
when the relationship stemmed from a personal transaction
between them rather than the practice of law of respondent or
when the legal acts done were only incidental to their personal
transaction. - Virgo v. Atty. Amorin A.C. No. 7861 [2009]

Duty once a lawyer-client relationship


exist

Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, that a lawyer


shall serve his client with competence and diligence.

Non-payment of fees does not diminish


a lawyers duty

Assuming the non-payment to be true, such failure should not be


a reason not to inform the client of an important
development, or worse, to withhold vital information from
her. - Somosot v. Atty. Lara A.C. No. 7024 [2009]

Remedy for deliberate refusal to pay

It is but just and proper that if refusal to pay just compensation


ensues in any transaction, the proper remedy is to institute an
action before the proper court and such actuation of the
respondent herein did not constitute deceit, malpractice or
gross misconduct. - Urban Bank Inc. vs. Atty. Pena, A.C. No.
4863 [2001]

Rule 20.04 - A lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients


concerning his compensation and shall resort to judicial action
only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud.

Implied duty to finish the case

Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an


attorney who undertakes an action impliedly stipulates to carry
it to its termination, that is, until the case becomes final and
executory. - Venterez, et. al. v. Atty. Cosme, A.C. No. 7421
[2007]

Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an


attorney who undertakes to conduct an action impliedly
stipulates to carry it to its conclusion.- Francisco v. Atty.
Portugal, A.C. No. 6155, March 14, 2006

Terminating the attorney-client relation

CLIENT: The rule in this jurisdiction is that a client has the


absolute right to terminate the attorney-client relation at
anytime with or without cause.

ATTORNEY: The right of an attorney to withdraw or terminate the


relation other than for sufficient cause is, however, considerably
restricted. Xxx He is not at liberty to abandon it without reasonable
cause. A lawyers right to withdraw from a case before its final
adjudication arises only from the clients written consent or
from a good cause. - Francisco v. Atty. Portugal, A.C. No.
6155, March 14, 2006

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CANON 22 - A LAWYER SHALL WITHDRAW


HIS SERVICES ONLY FOR GOOD CAUSE AND
UPON NOTICE APPROPRIATE IN THE
CIRCUMSTANCES.

Rule 22.01 - A lawyer may withdraw his services in any of the following case:

(a) When the client pursues an illegal or immoral course of conduct in


connection with the matter he is handling; [see Rule 19.02]
(b) When the client insists that the lawyer pursue conduct violative of
these canons and rules;
(c) When his inability to work with co-counsel will not promote the best
interest of the client;
(d) When the mental or physical condition of the lawyer renders it difficult
for him to carry out the employment effectively;
(e) When the client deliberately fails to pay the fees for the services or fails to
comply with the retainer agreement;
(f) When the lawyer is elected or appointed to public office [see Rule 3.03];
and
(g) Other similar cases.

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Rule 3.03 - Where a partner accepts public office, he shall


withdraw from the firm and his name shall be dropped from
the firm name unless the law allows him to practice law
concurrently.

Rule 15.06. - A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to


influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body .

Rule 19.02 - A lawyer who has received information that his


client has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated a fraud
upon a person or tribunal, shall promptly call upon the client to
rectify the same, and failing which he shall terminate the
relationship with such client in accordance with the Rules of
Court.

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Changing lawyer does not need the


approval of the Court

[A client] may discharge his attorney at any time with or without


cause and thereafter employ another lawyer who may then enter
his appearance. Thus, it has been held that a client is free to
change his counsel in a pending case and thereafter retain another
lawyer to represent him. That manner of changing a lawyer does
not need the consent of the lawyer to be dismissed. Nor does
it require approval of the court. - Atty. Jalandoni v. Atty.
Villarosa, AC 5303, June 15, 2006

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Termination of services without the


written consent of client

A lawyer who desires to retire from an action without the written


consent of his client must file a petition for withdrawal in court. He must
serve a copy of his petition upon his client and the adverse party - Atty.
Jalandoni v. Atty. Villarosa, AC 5303, June 15, 2006

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A lawyer must see to it that a new


lawyer is recorded before terminating
his services

An attorney may only retire from a case either by written consent


of his client or by permission of the court after due notice
and hearing, in which event the attorney should see to it that
the name of the new lawyer is recorded in the case. - Atty.
Jalandoni v. Atty. Villarosa, AC 5303, June 15, 2006

15

Cessation of law practice is not a good


cause to withdraw

Neither is the cessation of his law practice an excuse for his


failure to file the required brief. Even if it were true that Atty.
Briones has stopped practicing law, he still could not ignore the
directives coming from the Court. It does not appear from the
records of G.R. No. 130965 that Atty. Briones has withdrawn his
appearance. Unless he has withdrawn his appearance in the case,
the Court would still consider him as counsel for the accusedappellant and he is expected to comply with all its orders and
directives. - In Re: Atty. David Briones, A.C. No. 5486. August
15, 2001]

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The only way to be relieved as counsel

Thus, the only way to be relieved as counsel is to have either the


written conformity of his client or an order from the court
relieving him of the duties of counsel, in accordance with Rule
138, Section 26 of the Rules of Court. - Balatbat v. Atty. Arias,
A.C. No. 1666, April 13, 2007

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Duty of lawyer once he is discharged as


counsel

Rule 22.02 - A lawyer who withdraws or is discharged shall, subject


to a retainer lien, immediately turn over all papers and
property to which the client is entitled, and shall cooperative
with his successor in the orderly transfer of the matter,
including all information necessary for the proper handling of the
matter.

The discharged attorney must likewise see to it that the name of


the new counsel is properly recorded and the records properly
handed over. - Balatbat v. Atty. Arias, A.C. No. 1666 [2007]

18

A simple turnover of the records does


not end a lawyers duty

Contrary to respondents contention, his professional relations as


a lawyer with his clients are not terminated by the simple
turnover of the records of the case to his clients. - Venterez, et.
al. v. Atty. Cosme, A.C. No. 7421 [2007]

xxx and shall cooperative with his successor in the orderly


transfer of the matter, including all information necessary for the
proper handling of the matter. - Rule 22.02

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Client refusal to give his consent is still


subject to Courts discretion

A lawyer may retire at any time from any action or special


proceeding with the written consent of his client filed in court and
with a copy thereof served upon the adverse party. Should the
client refuse to give his consent, the lawyer must file an
application with the court. The court, on notice to the client and
adverse party, shall determine whether the lawyer ought to be
allowed to retire. The application for withdrawal must be based
on a good cause. - Venterez, et. al. v. Atty. Cosme, A.C. No.
7421 [2007]

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Consent to withdraw must be given by


the litigant

Respondents defense completely crumbles in face of the fact that


Salvador Ramirez is not even a party in Civil Case No. 981 and,
hence, had no authority to withdraw the records of the said case
from respondent or to terminate the latters services. - Venterez,
et. al. v. Atty. Cosme, A.C. No. 7421 [2007]

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Pendency of petition for withdrawal


does not relieve lawyer of his duty

The lawyer has no right to presume that his petition for withdrawal
will be granted by the court. Until his withdrawal shall have been
approved, the lawyer remains counsel of record who is expected by
his clients, as well as by the court, to do what the interests of his
clients require. He must still appear before the court to protect the
interest of his clients by availing himself of the proper remedy, for
the attorney-client relations are not terminated formally
until there is a withdrawal of record. - Venterez, et. al. v. Atty.
Cosme, A.C. No. 7421 [2007]

22

A valid cause to withdraw must still be


subject to formalities of withdrawing as
counsel

Without a proper revocation of his authority and withdrawal as


counsel, respondent remains counsel of record for the
complainants in Civil Case No. 981; and whether he has a valid
cause to withdraw from the case, he cannot immediately do
so and leave his clients without representation. - Venterez, et.
al. v. Atty. Cosme, A.C. No. 7421 [2007]

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Verbal substitution of counsel not


allowed

A verbal substitution of counsel, albeit impliedly granted by


respondent judge, contravenes Section 26 of Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court which prescribes the requirements for change of
attorneys. Said provision requires that the written consent of the
client should be filed in court and the adverse party should be
given written notice of the substitution. As correctly pointed out
by the OCA, if her intention was to obviate delay, then she should
have ordered the counsel of record, Atty. Nueva, who was present
during the hearing, to file the required comment or opposition. Requirme, Jr. v. Judge Yuipco, A.M. No. RTJ-98-1427.
November 27, 2000

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Death of a partner

Petitioner's counsel was the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO &


ASSOCIATES and not merely Atty. Crispin Baizas. Hence, the death
of the latter did not extinguish the lawyer-client relationship
between said firm and petitioner.
Upon receipt of the notice to file Brief, the law firm should have
re-assigned the case to another associate or, it could have
withdrawn as counsel in the manner provided by the Rules of
Court so that the petitioner could contract the services of a new
lawyer. - B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc. v. CA, G.R. No. L41862 [1992]

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Grounds to withdraw from a case before


its final adjudication

A lawyers right to withdraw from a case before its final


adjudication arises only from the clients written consent or
from a good cause. - Francisco v. Atty. Portugal, A.C. No. 6155
[2006]

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Written contract is not essential in


establishing lawyer-client relationship

A written contract is not an essential element in the employment


of an attorney; the contract may be express or implied. - Francisco
v. Atty. Portugal, A.C. No. 6155 [2006]

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Perceived insufficiency of remuneration


not a ground to diminish professional
zeal

Hence, even if respondent felt under-compensated in the case


he undertook to defend, his obligation embodied in the Lawyers
Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility still remains
unwavering. The zeal and the degree of fervor in handling the case
should neither diminish nor cease just because of his perceived
insufficiency of remuneration. - Francisco v. Atty. Portugal, A.C.
No. 6155 [2006]

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Close personal relationship will not bar


a lawyer-client relationship

Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the


close personal relationship between the lawyer and the
complainant or the non-payment of the former's fees. - Hadjula v.
Atty. Madianda, A.C. No. 6711
July 3, 2007

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Heavy workload

Standing alone, heavy workload is not sufficient reason for the


withdrawal of her services. - Ceniza v. Atty. Rubia, A.C. No. 6166
[2009]

30

Lost of confidence

Respondent's withdrawal was made on the ground that "there no


longer exist[ed] the xxx confidence" between them and that there
had been "serious differences between them relating to the
manner of private prosecution.- Orcino v. Atty. Gaspar, A.C.
No. 3773 September 24, 1997

31

Hurt feelings is not a valid ground to


automatically withdraw

Complainant's words and actions may have hurt respondent's


feelings considering the work he had put into the case. But her
words were uttered in a burst of passion. And even at that
moment, complainant did not expressly terminate respondent's
services. She made this clear when she refused to sign his
"Motion to Withdraw as Counsel. - Orcino v. Atty. Gaspar, A.C.
No. 3773 September 24, 1997

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Withdrawal must be granted by the court

Assuming, nevertheless, that respondent was justified in


terminating his services, he, however, cannot just do so and leave
complainant in the cold unprotected. The lawyer has no right to
presume that his petition for withdrawal will be granted by the
court. Until his withdrawal shall have been approved, the
lawyer remains counsel of record who is expected by his
client as well as by the court to do what the interests of his
client require. He must still appear on the date of hearing for the
attorney-client relation does not terminate formally until there is a
withdrawal of record.- Orcino v. Atty. Gaspar, A.C. No. 3773
September 24, 1997

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Lawyers responsibility

CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH


COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

xxxx

Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter


entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall
render him liable.

Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the


status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time
to the clients request for information.
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Client should not file the Notice to


Withdraw

Certainly, respondent ought to know that he was the one who


should have filed the Notice to Withdraw and not the accused. Francisco v. Atty. Portugal, A.C. No. 6155 [2006]

35

Having an additional lawyer did not


necessarily mean conformity

The appearance of Atty. Alminaza in fact was not even to substitute


for respondent but to act as additional counsel. Mrs. Jalandonis
conformity to having an additional lawyer did not necessarily
mean conformity to respondents desire to withdraw as
counsel. Respondents speculations on the professional
relationship of Atty. Alminaza and Mrs. Jalandoni find no support
in the records of this case.
That Mrs. Jalandoni continued with Atty. Alminazas professional
engagement on her behalf despite respondents withdrawal did
not absolve the latter of the consequences of his
unprofessional conduct. - Atty. Jalandoni v. Atty.
Villarosa, A.C. No. 5303 [2006]

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Thank you for your attention!!

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