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PROCEDURE FOR THE DISBARMENT, SUSPENSION AND

DISCIPLINE OF LAWYERS
What offices are authorized to investigate disbarment cases?
(OSI)
1. Office of the Solicitor General
2. Supreme Court
3. Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) through its Commission on
Bar Discipline or authorized investigators
How are disbarment cases instituted?
1. By the Supreme Court motu propio or when the interest of justice
so requires; or
2. By the IBP upon verified complaint of any person
(Par. 1, Sec. 1, Rule 139-B)
Can the IBP Booard of governors initiate charges?
Yes. The IBP Board of governors may initiate and prosecute proper
charges against erring attorneys including those in the government.
Provided: All charges against Justices of the CA and Sandiganbayan,
and Judges of the CTA and lower courts, even if lawyers are jointly
charged with them, shall be filed with the Supreme Court.
Provided further: charges filed against Justices and Judges before the
IBP, shall immediately be forwarded to the Supreme Court for
disposition and adjudication.
What are the formal requisites of a complaint for disbarment,
suspension or discipline of lawyers? (VFAD6)
1. Verified
2. Facts complained of must be stated clearly
3. Supported by Affidavits of persons having personal knowledge of
the fact therein alleged, or by such Documents as may
substantiate it;
4. Six (6) copies shall be filed with the Secretary of the IBP or of
any of its Chapters who shall forthwith transmit the same to the
IBP Board of Governors for assignment to an investigator.
What may be done by the investigating Commissioner?
1. Dismiss the complaint without delay; or
2. Proceed with the investigation

When shall the investigator proceed with the investigation of


the case?
1. If the complaint appears to be meritorious; or
2. Upon joinder of the issues, when the answer shows that the
complaint is indeed meritorious
3. If respondent fails to answer
When shall the investigator recommend the dismissal of the
case?
1. If the complaint lacks merit; or
2. If the asnwer shows, to the satisfaction of the investigator, that
the complaint is not meritorious
How is an investigator appointed?
The Board of Governors shall appoint from among IBP members an
Investigator or, when special circumstances so warrant, a panel of
three(3) investigators to investigate the complaint. All Investigators
shall take an oath of office in the form prescribed by the Board of
Governors. A copy of the Investigator's appointment and oath shall be
transmitted to the Supreme Court. (Sec 2., Rule 139-B)
What are the grounds for disqualification of an investigator?
1. Relationship within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity
to any of the parties or their counsel
2. Pecuniary interest
3. Personal bias
4. His having acted as counsel for either party,
XPN: When the parties sign and enter upon the record their written
consent to his acting as such Investigator.
How can an investigator be removed?
Any Investigator may be removed for cause, after due hearing, by the
vote of at least six (6) members of the IBP Board Governors. The
decision of the Board of Governors in all cases of disqualification or
removal shall be final. (Sec. 2, Rule 139-B)

What are the duties of investigators?


The National Grievance Investigators shall investigate all complaint
against members of the Integrated Bar referred to them by the IBP
Board of Governors. (Sec. 3, Rule 139-B)

No investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the


desistance, settlement, compromise, restitution, withdrawal of the
charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same. (Sec. 5,
Rule 139-B)
When can there be ex-parte investigation?
If upon reasonable notice, the respondent fails to appear, the
investigation shall proceed ex parte.
How long should the investigation last?
The Investigator shall terminate the investigation within three (3)
months from the date of its commencement unless extended for good
cause by the Board of Governors upon prior application. (Sec. 8, Rule
139-B)
When can there
proceedings?

be

indirect

contempt

in

dsiciplinary

When there is willfull failure or refusal to obey a subpoena or any other


lawful order issued by the Investigator. (Sec. 8, Rule 139-B)
How are contempt proceedings done?
The corresponding charge shall be filed
by the Investigator before the IBP
Board of Governors
Contemnor to show cause within ten
(10) days from notice.

IBP Board of Governors may conduct hearings, if


necessary, which shall be terminated within 15 days
as far as practicable
IBP Board of Governors shall within like period fifteen (15)
days issue a resolution setting forth its findings and
recommendations,

Resolution shall be transmitted to the Supreme


Court for final action and if warranted, the
imposition of penalty.

Can depositions be taken in disciplinary proceedings?


Yes. Depositions may be taken in accordance with the Rules of Court
with leave of the investigator(s).
How are depositions taken?
If within the Philippines, depositions may be taken before:
1. Any member of the Board of Governors
2. The President of any Chapter,; or
3. Any officer authorized by law to administer oaths.
If outside the Philippines, depositions may betaken before:
1. A diplomatic or consular representative of the Philippine
Government; or
2. Any person agreed upon by the parties or designated by the
Board of Governors.
Can the parties file a motion for reconsideration before the
IBP?
Yes. Although Rule 139-B, Sec. 12(c) makes no mention of a motion for
reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its history suggests that such
motion is prohibited. The filing of such motion should be encouraged to
afford the agency renderingthe judgment an opportunity to correct any
error it may have committed through a misapprehension of facts or
misappreciation of evidence. (Halimao v. Villanueva, A.C. No. 3825,
February 1, 1996)
However if the complainants motion for reconsideration was filed after
the IBP had forwarded the records of this case to the Supreme Court, it
would be more expedient to treat it as a complainants petition for
review within the contemplation of Rusle 139-B, Sec. 12(c).
Does the decision of the IBP become final and executory
automatically after the lapse of the 15-day period?

No. No decision of the IBP may become final and executory simply with
the lapse of the 15-day period. Such decision takes effect only upon
the affirmation or modification of the Court, or as ordained by the
Court. This is so because the inherent power to discipline members of
the bar belongs to the Court, not the IBP. (Maronilla vs. Jorda, et. al.,
A.C. No. 6973, March 12, 2007)
What is the procedure for Disbarment in the Supreme Court?
1. Supreme Court may refer the case for investigation to the Solicitor
General or any officer of the Supreme Court, or judge of a lower court.
2. If referred, the investigator shall proceed with the investigation and
submit a report containing his findings of fact and recommendation for
the final action directly to the Supreme Court.
What are the rules on imposition of penalties?
TYPE OF PUNISHMENT

PENALTY

DIVISION
Suspension
Over 1 year or less
Fine
P10,000 or less
Both Suspension and
Fine

EN BANC
Exceeds 1 year
More than P10,000
If Suspension exceeds
1 year or fine exceeds
P10,000

Can an investigating judge dismiss a case?


No. The investigating judges authority is only to investigate, make a
report and recommendation on the case to be submitted to the SC for
final determination. (Graciano v. Sebastian, A.M. MTJ-88-160, March 30,
1994)
Does the Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur Apply in Disbarment
cases?
Yes. Where the facts sufficiently provide the basis for the determination
of a lawyers administrative liability, he may be disciplined or disbarred
by the Supreme Court without furteher inquiry or investigation into the
matter under the principle of res ipsa loquitur. The requirement of due
process is satisfied, for what due process abhors is the absolute lack of
an opportunity to be heard.

The extent of disciplinary action depends on the attendance of


mitigating or aggravating circumstances
Mitigating Circumstances:
1. Absence of prior disciplinary record
2. Absence of Dishinest or selfish motive
3. Personal or emotional problems
4. Timely good faith effort to make restitution or to rectify
consequences of misconduct
5. Full and free disclosure to disciplinary board or cooperative attitude
toward the proceedings
6. Inexperience in the practice of law
7. Character or reputation
8. Physical or mental disability or impairment
9. Delay in disciplinary proceedings
10. Interim rehabilitation
11. Imposition of other penalties or sanctions
12. Remorse
13. Remoteness of prior offenses
Aggravating Circumstances:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Prior Disciplinary offenses


Dishonest or selfish motives
A pattern of misconduct
Multiple offenses
Bad faith obstruction of the disciplinary proceeding by
intentionally failing to comply with rules or orders of the
disciplinary agency
6. Submission of false evidence, false statements or other
deceptive practices during the disciplinary process.
7. Refusal to acknowledge wrongful nature of conduct
8. Vulnerability of victim
9. Substantial experience in practice of law
10.
Indifference to making restitution
What is the effect of Disbarment or Suspension in a foreign
country?
A foreign courts judgment ordering the suspension of a Filipino lawyer
from the practice of law in that foreign counrty does not automatically
result in his suspension or disbarment in the Philippines. The judgment
in the said foreign court only constitutes prima facie evidence of the

lawyers unethical acts as a lawyer. Due process demands that he be


given the opportunity to defend himself and to present evidence in an
investigation conducted in accordance with Rule 139-B of the Revised
Rules of Court (In Re: Suspension from the practice of law in the territor
of Guam of Atty. Maquera, A.M. No. 793, July 30, 2004)
What is the effect of Absolute Pardon?
It depends:
1. If granted after the disbarment case, the disbarred lawyer due to
conviction for a crime is NOT automatically reinstated. An
appropriate petition to the Supreme Court is necessary.
2. If granted prior to the disbarment case, the pardon operates to
wipe out the conviction and is a bar to any proceeding for the
disbarment of the lawyer.
What is the effect of Conditional Pardon?
Conditional Pardon or the remission of the unexpired protion will not
result to the dismissal of the disbarment case on the basis thereof. The
disciplinary action will be judged upon the act of conviction without
regard to the conditional pardon extended to the respondent.
What is the effect of the withdarwal of the
the lawyer?

charges against

The desistance of the complaint or his withdrawal of the charges


against a lawyer does not deprive the court of the authority to proceed
or determine the matter. Nor does it result in the dismissal of the
complaint. Except when, as a consequence of withdrawal or
desistance, no evidence is adduced to prove the charges. (Banaag v.
Salindog, A.C. No. 1563, February 20, 1984)
What is the effect of compromise agreements?
It does not necessarily warrant the dismissal of the case. The Courts
disciplinary authority is not dependent on or cannot be frustrated by
the private arrangements entered into by the parties. Public interest is
at stake in the conduct and actuations of the officials and employees of
the Judiciary. The Courts interest in the affairs of the judiciary is a
paramount concern that bows to no limits (Reas v. Relacion, A.M. No. P05-2095, February 9, 2011)

XPN: When as a consequence of the withdrawal or desistance, no


evidence is adduced to prove the charges. (Bannag v. Salindog, A.C.
No. 1563, February 20, 1984)
What is the effect of the death of the lawyer during the
pendncy of the proceedings?
It renders the action moot and academic, but the court may still
resolve the case on its merit in order to clear publicly the name of the
lawyer. (Yap v. Somera, A.C. No. 2093, June 22, 1984)
What is REINSTATEMENT?
It is the readmission to membership in the Bar and the restoration to a
disbarred lawyer of the privilege to practice law.

Who has the authority to reinstate a mamber of the bar?


The Supreme Court has the exclusive authority to reinstate a disbarred
or indefinitely suspended lawyer to the office of attorney-at-law. It
stems form its constitutional prerogative to issue rules and regulations
concerning the admission of lawyers to the practice of law.
What is the purpose of the court upon the application of
reinstatement?
To determine whether the applicant has satisfied and convinced the
Court by positive evidence that the effort he has made toward the
rehabilitation of his character has been successful and, therefore, he is
entitled to be re-admitted to a profession which is intrinsically an office
of trust. (In Re: Rusiana, A.C. No. 270, March 29, 1974)

What is the positive evidence required in reinstatement


applications?
It refers to proofs of honesty, integrity and good moral character
through written testimonials of credible institutions and personalities.

Can the Supreme Court require special conditions in addition


to rehabilitation?
Yes. The Supreme Court may also require special conditions to be
fulfilled by the applicant, in addition to the latters required
rehabilitation. Such special conditions may include enrolling in and
passing the required fourth year review classes in a recognized school.
G.R.: Prior to actual reinstatement, the applicant will be required to
take anew the lawyers oath and sign once again the roll of attorneys
after paying the requisite fees.
What is the nature of the proceedings in disciplinary cases?
All disciplinary proceedings are confidential until the final disosition on
the matter. However, confidentiality may be waived by the lawyer
himself. The purpose of confidentiality is not only to enable the court
to make its investigations free from any extraneous influence or
interference, but also to protect the personal and professional
reputation of attorneys and judges from the baseless charges of
disgruntled, vindictive, and irresponsible clients and litigants.

FLOWCHART OF DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE IBP


Filing of Verified Complaint with IBP

Within two (2) days from the receipt of the


verified complaint, IBP will cause the issuance
of summons to respondent (Rule III, Sec. 3)

Filing of verified answer within fifteen (15) days


by respondent from receipt of summons (Rule
III, Sec. 3)
Upon agreement of the parties or
If Necessacy IC
Issuance of an
upon motions basedAssignment
on eritorious
will set
hearing or report and
order
of the investigating
commissioner
Submission
grounds, upon endorsement of
the
date
for
submitting
the
(IC)
by raffle (Rule
IV,
Sec.
2)
recommendation
of ICposition
to the Board
Evidence
forwarded
by
Chapter
Submission
of
verified
papers
Board of Governors, IC may refer
clarificatory
case from
for
within
thirty (30) calendar
days
President
IC for evaluation
with
a non-extendible
period
of ten(Rule
(10)
Mandatory
Conference
immediately
to thetoChapter
President and
questioning
decision
date
of order
submitting
case of
forthe
Review or decision
by the Boardof
consideration
in
the
preparation
days
from
notice
of
termination
upon
receipt
concerned the reception of
(Rule
5, Secof3)verified
5, Sec.
6) V,
decorum
(Rule V,answer
Sec.
7)(Rule
his
report
or
recommendaion
mandatory
conference.
(Rule
V,
Sec.
6)
Sec. 1)
evidence. (Rule IV, Sec. 4)