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2008 LEGAL ETHICS BAR EXAM


I
Christine was appointed counsel de oficio for Zuma, who was accused of raping his own
daughter. Zuma pleaded not guilty but thereafter privately admitted to Christine that he did
commit the crime charged.

a. In light of Zumas admission, what should Christine do? Explain. (3%)


(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Christine should suggest to Zuma that he should plead guilty to the crime as charged.
Canon 19, Rule 19.02 of the CPR states that 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.
b. Can Christine disclose the admission of Zuma to the court? Why or why not? (2%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No, Christine cannot disclose Zuma's admission to the court.
Canon 21, Rule 21.02 of the CPR provides that a lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his
client, use information acquired in the course of employment, nor shall he use the same to his
own advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with full knowledge of the
circumstances consents thereto.
Christine cannot disclose the admission without violating the abovementioned canon. The
information disclosed is in the nature of a privileged communication, hence, she cannot disclose
it to the court without Zuma's consent.
c. Can Christine withdraw as counsel of Zuma should he insist in going to trial? Explain.
(3%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Christine cannot withdraw as counsel of Zuma.
Canon 14, Rule 14.01 of CPR states that a lawyer shall not decline to represent a person solely
on account of the latter's race, sex. creed or status of life, or because of his own opinion
regarding the guilt of said person.
Despite the admission of Zuma, Christine cannot withdraw as Zuma's counsel because Zuma is
still considered innocent until proven guilty. Further, there may be mitigating circumstances that
Christine may raise as a defense that is favorable to Zuma.
II
In 1998, Acaramba, a telecommunications company, signed a retainer agreement with Bianca & Sophia
Law Office (B & S) for the latters legal services for a fee of P2,000 a month. From 1998 to 2001, the
only service actually performed by B & S for Acaramba was the review of a lease agreement and
representation of Acaramba as a complainant in a bouncing checks case. Acaramba stopped paying
retainer fees in 2002 and terminated its retainer agreement with B & S in 2005. In 2007, Temavous,
another telecommunications company, requested B & S to act as its counsel in the following
transactions: (a) the acquisition of Acaramba; and (b) the acquisition of Super-6, a company engaged in
the power business.
In which transactions, if any, can Bianca & Sophia Law Office represent Temavous? Explain
fully. (7%)

(Canon of Professional Ethics/Code of Professional Responsibility)


SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Bianca & Sophia Law Office cannot represent Temavous in the acquisition of Acaramba
because the Canons of Professional Ethics (Canon 6) and the Code of Professional
Responsibility (Canon 15) provide that a lawyer shall not represent parties with adverse
interests to one another. Even though their relationship had already been terminated the Code
further provides (Canon 21) that a lawyer should safeguard the confidences of his former client.
In the case of acquisitions, B&S would definitely have an undue advantage (Rule 21.02-.03), or
to appear to have such, in assisting Temavous acquisition of its former client due to its prior
relationship. In contrast, as to the case of Super-6, B&S may represent Temavous because such
a transaction is in no way connected to its prior relationship with Acaramba.
III
Dumbledore, a noted professor of commercial law, wrote an article on the subject of letters of credit
which was published in the IBP Journal.
a. Assume he devoted a significant portion of the article to a commentary on how the
Supreme Court should decide a pending case involving the application of the law on
letters of credit. May he be sanctioned by the Supreme Court? Explain. (4%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes, he may be sanctioned by the court.
Canon 13, Rule 13.02 provides that a lawyer shall not make public statements in the media
regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.
As a lawyer, Dumbledore should not have made such statements regarding a pending case so
as not to influence the court in deciding the case or giving the public the impression that the
court was influenced by his commentaries, should the court arrive at a decision similar to that of
Dumbledore's comments.

b. Assume Dumbledore did not include any commentary on the case. Assume further after
the Supreme Court decision on the case had attained finality, he wrote another IBP
Journal article, dissecting the decision and explaining why the Supreme Court erred in all
its conclusions. May he be sanctioned by the Supreme Court? Explain. (3%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No, he may not be sanctioned by the court.
Dumbledore's commentary in the IBP journal is not unethical. What the CPR prohibits is the
making of public statements regarding pending cases before the courts. Dumbledore's article in
the IBP Journal is about a decided case already. Once a case has been decided, it is already
open for public consumption hence anyone can criticize or make known their opinions regarding
the conclusion of the case.
IV
Chester asked Laarni to handle his claim to a sizeable parcel of land in Quezon City against a wellknown property developer on a contingent fee basis. Laarni asked for 15% of the land that may be
recovered or 15% of whatever monetary settlement that may be received from the property developer
as her only fee contingent upon securing a favorable final judgment or compromise settlement. Chester
signed the contingent fee agreement.
a. Assume the property developer settled the case after the case was decided by the
Regional Trial Court in favor of Chester for P1 Billion. Chester refused to pay Laarni P150
Million on the ground that it is excessive. Is the refusal justified? Explain. (4%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes, the refusal is justified.
Canon 20 of the CPR states that a lawyer shall charge only fair and reasonable fees.

Although under a contingent fee agreement lawyers are entitled to greater remuneration
because of the possibility of receiving nothing at all, the fee charged must still be fair,
reasonable and conscionable. In this case, the 150 million fee is excessive and unconscionable.
b. Assume there was no settlement and the case eventually reached the Supreme Court
which promulgated a decision in favor of Chester. This time Chester refused to convey to
Laarni 15% of the litigated land as stipulated on the ground that the agreement violates
Article 1491 of the Civil Code which prohibits lawyers from acquiring by purchase
properties and rights which are the object of litigation in which they take part by reason
of their profession. Is the refusal justified? Explain. (4%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
The refusal is not justified.
The transfer of the land to Laarni would not violate Article 1491 of the Civil Code because said
article does not cover contingent fee agreements. This is because in a contingent fee
agreement a transfer would only occur in case a favorable judgment is obtained. Further, the
case reached the Supreme Court which means that Laarni spent so much time on the case and
much of her skills were demanded hence the 150 million is a fair and reasonable fee.
V
The vendor filed a case against the vendee for the annulment of the sale of a piece of land.
a. Assume the vendee obtained a summary judgment against the vendor. Would the
counsel for the defendant vendee be entitled to enforce a charging lien? Explain. (4%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No, vendee's counsel would not be entitled to enforce a charging lien.
A charging lien to be enforceable there must be a judgment for money. In the case at bar, there
was no mention of a judgment for money in favor of the vendee thus vendee's counsel cannot
enforce a charging lien.
However, if there would be a judgment for money vendee's counsel would be entitled to enforce
the charging lien.
b. Assume, through the excellent work of the vendees counsel at the pre-trial conference
and his wise use of modes of discovery, the vendor was compelled to move for the
dismissal of the complaint. In its order the court simply granted the motion. Would your
answer be the same as in question (a)? Explain. (3%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Vendee's counsel would still not be entitled to enforce a charging lien.
A dismissal on motion of the plaintiff would certainly not include a judgment for money. Therfore,
the counsel cannot enforce a charging lien.
VI
Atty. Abigail filed administrative cases before the Supreme Court against Judge Luis. Thereafter, Atty.
Abigail filed a Motion for Inhibition praying that Judge Luis inhibit himself from trying, hearing or in any
manner acting on all cases, civil and criminal, in which Atty. Abigail is involved and handling.
Should Judge Luis inhibit himself as prayed for by Atty. Abigail? Explain fully. (6%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No. Being the subject of an administrative case is not one of the grounds for disqualification of a
judge from handling case provided by the Code of Judicial Responsibility in Canon 3 Rule 12.
VII
In need of legal services, Niko secured an appointment to meet with Atty. Henry of Henry & Meyer Law
Offices. During the meeting, Niko divulged highly private information to Atty. Henry, believing that the
lawyer would keep the confidentiality of the information. Subsequently, Niko was shocked when he
learned that Atty. Henry had shared the confidential information with his law partner, Atty. Meyer, and
their common friend, private practitioner Atty. Canonigo. When confronted, Atty. Henry replied that Niko
never signed any confidentiality agreement, and that he shared the information with the two lawyers to

secure affirmance of his legal opinion on Nikos problem. Did Atty. Henry violate any rule of ethics?
Explain fully. (7%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Canon 21 provides that an attorney shall preserve the confidence of his client and further
articulates this point in Rule 21.03-.04 by clarifying that he may not disclose such information to
outside agencies without the consent of his client and that he may disclose such information to
firm partners unless prohibited by his client. In the case of Atty. Meyer, he was a firm partner and
as such is covered by Rule 21.04 and not being explicitly prohibited by Niko Henry committed
no wrong in giving information to him. However in the case of Atty. Canonigo who was not in any
way connected to the firm Henry committed a gross violation of Rule 21.03. In either case the
mere entry into the attorney-client relationship obviates the need for a confidentiality agreement.
VIII
State, with a brief explanation, whether the lawyer concerned may be sanctioned for the conduct stated
below.
a. Filing a complaint that fails to state a cause of action, thereby resulting in the defendant
succeeding in his motion to dismiss. (3%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes. Canon 18, Rule 18.02 states that A lawyer shall not handle any legal matter without
adequate preparation. A lawyer should have exercised diligence and made adequate
preparations to ascertain that the complaint stated a cause of action to prevent the dismissal of
the complaint.
b. A suspended lawyer working as an independent legal assistant to gather information and
secure documents for other lawyers during the period of his suspension. (3%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes. Under the law, only lawyers in good standing can perform or engage in the practice of law.
In the case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, the Court held that the practice of law involves rendering
service to the general public that calls for the professional judgment of a lawyer, the essence of
which is his educated ability to relate the general body and philosophy of law to a specified legal
problem. Clearly, the act of working as a legal assistant in gathering information and securing
documents for other lawyers is within the scope of practicing law. A suspended lawyer is
temporarily prohibited to practice the legal profession therefor he cannot engage in the
mentioned acts.
c. A suspended lawyer allowing his non-lawyer staff to actively operate his law office and
conduct business on behalf of clients during the period of suspension. (3%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes. Canon 9, Rule 9.01 states that a lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the
performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the bar in good
standing.
d. Keeping money he collected as rental from his clients tenant and remitting it to the client
when asked to do so. (3%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes. Canon 16, Rule 16.01 provides that a lawyer shall account for all money or property
collected or received for or from the client. A lawyer should account for all money he collected
immediately. He should not wait that the client would ask or demand for the money.
e. Refusing to return certain documents to the client pending payment of his attorneys
fees. (3%)
(Rules of Court)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No. Rule 138, Section 37 of the Rules of Court states that an attorney shall have a lien upon
the funds, documents and papers of his client which have lawfully come into his possession and
may retain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid, and may apply

such funds to the satisfaction thereof. Hence, he may keep the documents pending payment of
his attorney's fees.
f. An unwed female lawyer carrying on a clandestine affair with her unwed male
hairdresser. (3%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No. Both parties are of age and qualified to marry each other hence the affair is not one which is
grossly immoral. It is not so corrupt nor so unprincipled to warrant sanction from the court.
g. Not paying the annual IBP dues. (3%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes. Default in payment of IBP dues for 6 months shall warrant suspension of membership to
the IBP and default in payment for one year shall warrant for the removal of the member in the
Roll of Attorneys.
IX
State, with a brief explanation, whether the judge concerned may be sanctioned for the conduct stated
below.
a. Refusing to inhibit himself although one of the lawyers in the case is his second cousin.
(3%)
(Code of Professional Responsibility)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No. Under Canon 3, Rule 3.12 a judge should take no part in a proceeding where the judge's
impartiality might reasonably be questioned. One of the cases would be where the judge is
related by consanguinity or affinity to counsel within the fourth degree. A second cousin is a
relative within the 6th degree, hence it is not covered by the prohibition.
b. Deciding a case in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling but adding that he does not
agree with the ruling. (3%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
No. There is no law or rule prohibiting such conduct. Regardless of his opinion, the judge still
followed the Supreme Court's ruling thus there is really nothing wrong with such act. Further, his
opinion will not have any bearing as it is not part of the decision.
c. Dictating his decision in open court immediately after trial. (3%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes. A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary. He must not hastily
issue decisions.

X
Ian Alba owns a house and lot at No. 9 West Aguila, Green Cross Subdivision, Quezon City, which he
leased to Jun Miranda for a term of two years starting May 1, 2006, at a monthly rental of P50,000. Jun
defaulted in the payments of his rentals for six (6) months, from January 1, 2007 to June 30, 2007.
a. Prepare a demand letter as lawyer of Ian Alba addressed to Jun Miranda preparatory to filing an
ejectment case. (3%)
b. Assume Jun Miranda did not heed your demand letter. Draft a complaint for ejectment. (Omit
verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping). (9%)
XI
Draft a complete deed of donation of a piece of land in accordance with the form prescribed by the Civil
Code. (8%)
NOTHING FOLLOWS.