You are on page 1of 2

65. Dee v.

CA
G.R. No. 77439 | 24 August 1989 | Regalado, J.
Aggy | Topic: Rule 15.04 – Mediator, Conciliator or Arbitrator

Doctrine:
At a certain stage of the controversy, before it reaches the court, a lawyer may represent conflicting
interests with the consent of the parties.

Rule 15.04.
A lawyer may, with the written consent of all concerned, act as mediator, conciliator or arbitrator in settling
disputes.

Facts:
1. Donald Dee (petitioner) and his father went to Amelito Mutuc (respondent) to seek advice regarding
their problem involving the debt of Dewey Dee (Donald’s brother) to Caesar’s Palace (casino in Las
Vegas).
a. Their father was worried about the safety of Dewey because they suspected that Caesar’s
Palace was linked to the mafia.
b. Mutuc’s services were contracted for P100,000.00
2. Mutuc made several long distance calls and even went to Las Vegas in order to settle the problem.
It was found that the debt amounted to $1M, but Mutuc discovered that the real debtor was
Ramon Sy, with Dewey merely signing for the chits.
a. Mutuc talked with Caesar Palace’s president and they agree that if Mutuc is able to convince
Ramon Sy to acknowledge the debt, then Dewey will be released from liability.
b. Mutuc went back to Manila and was able to convince Ramon to acknowledge the debt.
3. Upon settling the problem, Mutuc sent several demand letters to Donald demanding the
balance of P50,000 for his attorney’s fees. Donald ignored all the letters.
4. Mutuc filed a complaint in RTC for collection of his attorney’s fees and refund of transport fare and
other expenses.
a. Donald denied that there was any attorney-client relationship between them. It was merely
an informal one and that Mutuc voluntarily helped them since he was a family friend.
b. The initial P50,000 given to Mutuc was merely “pocket money” for when he went to Las
Vegas and NOT a partial payment for his attorney’s fees.
c. Nevertheless, Donald also claims that the P50,000 is more than enough compensation for
his “strictly voluntary services”
5. RTC ordered Donald to pay the P50,000
a. IAC affirmed. But later reconsidered (upon Donald’s MR) and held that P50,000 was
sufficient compensation.
b. Upon MR of Mutuc, reorganized CA reinstated the earlier decision and ordered Donald to
pay the balance.
6. Donald argued that Mutuc was working as an agent and employee of Caesar’s Palace when he
rendered service to them, which meant that Mutuc was united with Caesar’s Palace in the objective
to collect from Donald.
a. Because of this, Mutuc is NOT justified to claim that he rendered legal services to Donald
since there were conflicting interests involved.

Issue/Holding:
W/N Mutuc is entitled to the balance of P50,000? – YES. There was an attorney-client relationship
between Mutuc and Donald.
• Yes. The professional relationship between them was proved by:
o Previous partial payment
o Demand letters of Mutuc to Donald, which were acknowledged by Donald.
• Even the initial receipt issued by Mutuc (for the first P50,000) indicated that the P50K served as
a partial payment for professional services rendered.
• There is no need for a written contract to prove their professional relationship. Documentary
formalism is NOT an essential element in the employment of an attorney. It can be express or
implied.
o It is sufficient that the advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any
matter pertinent to his profession.
o HERE, there is no question that Mutuc’s services were availed of. Through his efforts,
the issue involving the “debt” of Dewey was settled.

ON THE ALLEGED CONFLICT OF INTEREST:


• One of the issues is that Mutuc is alleged to be working as an agent of Caesar’s Palace
at the time he rendered services to Donald. Court already settled that there was no
evidence to prove that this was the case. (so they’re saying na hindi siya agent ni Caesar
nung cinontract siya ni Donald)
o BUT even if it were true, Mutuc would still be entitled to the P50K.
o Caesar’s Palace’s interests are NOT adverse to Dee’s. Mutuc’s representation in
behalf of the Dees were not against the claim of the casino. It was geared towards
proving that the real debtor was Ramon Sy, and not Dewey.

• FURTHER, EVEN IF THERE WERE CONFLICTING INTERESTS:


o Mutuc’s role is NOT ethically indefensible.
o General rule is attorneys cannot represent 2 parties with conflicting interests.
o BUT at a certain stage of the controversy, before it reaches the court, a
lawyer may represent conflicting interests with the consent of the parties.
• Here, Donald cannot disclaim any responsibility in paying Mutuc precisely because he
knew of the fact that Mutuc was an agent of the casino. Thus, he consented to the
dual representation.

Ruling:
Resolution of CA is affirmed.