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Hadjula vs. Atty Madiana [A.C. No. 6711. July 3, 2007]

16 Oct

Ponente: GARCIA, J.

FACTS:

[C]omplainant alleged that she and respondent used to be friends as they both worked at the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), claimed that she approached respondent for some legal advice and further alleged that in the course of their conversation which was supposed to be kept confidential she disclosed personal secrets only to be informed later by the respondent  that she (respondent) would refer the matter to a lawyer friend.  It was malicious, so complainant states, of respondent to have refused handling her case only after she had already heard her secrets.

[R]espondent denied giving legal advice to the complainant and dismissed any suggestion about the existence of a lawyer-client relationship between them. Respondent also stated the observation that the supposed confidential data and sensitive documents adverted to are in fact  matters of common knowledge in the BFP.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Atty. Madiana breached her duty of preserving the confidence of a client and violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.

HELD:

YES. Respondent was reprimanded and admonished.

RATIO:

The moment complainant approached the then receptive respondent to seek legal advice, a veritable lawyer-client relationship evolved between the two. Such relationship imposes upon the lawyer certain restrictions circumscribed by the ethics of the profession. Among the burdens of the relationship is that which enjoins the lawyer, respondent in this instance, to keep inviolate confidential information acquired or revealed during legal consultations.

The seriousness of the respondent’s offense notwithstanding, the Supreme Court feels that there is room for compassion, absent compelling evidence that the respondent acted with ill-will.  Without meaning to condone the error of respondent’s ways, what at bottom is before the Court is two former friends becoming bitter enemies and filing charges and counter-charges against each other using whatever convenient tools and data were readily available. Unfortunately, the personal information respondent gathered from her conversation with complainant became handy in her quest to even the score. At the end of the day, it appears clear to the Court that respondent was actuated by the urge to retaliate without perhaps realizing that, in the process of giving vent to a negative sentiment, she was violating the rule on confidentiality.

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

 

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