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Cheng vs. Agravante [A.C. No. 6183. March 23, 2004]

16 Oct

Ponente: YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.

FACTS:

Respondent Atty. Alexander M. Agravante served as counsel for The Rogemson Co., Inc. (Rogemson for brevity) in a case filed against it before the National Labor Relations Commission’s (NLRC) by its former employee, a certain Beaver Martin B. Barril.  The decision ordered Rogemson to pay Barril separation pay and backwages. A copy of said decision was received by respondent’s law office on September 8, 1998. However, respondent filed a Memorandum of Appeal with the NLRC only on September 22, 1998.  Consequently, the NLRC dismissed Rogemson’s appeal.

The complainants terminated the services of Atty. Agravante.  Through their new lawyers, complainants wrote Atty. Agravante, demanding that they be compensated for the pecuniary damages they had suffered as a result of his negligence. When it appeared that Atty. Agravante had no intention of responding to their letter, Edison G. Cheng, General Manager of Rogemson, filed an affidavit-complaint with the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline.

Agravante tells a different story.  Respondent alleges that he was out of town on said date and only returned to his office on September 10, 1998.  Upon arriving at the office, his secretary handed to him all the correspondence addressed to him, including the envelope containing the Labor Arbiter’s decision.  He alleges that there were several markings on this particular envelope, one of which was the date “September 10, 1998,” and he allegedly assumed that this was the date of receipt by his office.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Atty. Agravante is guilty of violating Rules 10.01 and 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

HELD:

YES. Respondent was suspended from practice of law for one (1) year and is fined the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00).

RATIO:

[R]espondent’s filing of the Memorandum of Appeal four (4) days after the deadline proves that his efforts fell short of the diligence required of a lawyer.  His failure to perfect an appeal within the prescribed period constitutes negligence and malpractice proscribed by the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provide that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Rule 10.01 —A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.

Rule 18.03 — A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

[T]he belated filing of the Memorandum of Appeal cannot in any way mitigate respondent’s liability; on the contrary, it shows ignorance on his part.  As a lawyer, he ought to know that his Memorandum of Appeal, having been filed beyond the reglementary period, would surely be struck down for late filing.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Case Digests, Legal Ethics

 

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