(Question V, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2017 Bar Exam)
Eva consulted Atty. Doble Kara, a well-known solo practitioner, to represent her as a probable heir to the huge estate of her late lamented grandaunt who died without issue. After Atty. Doble Kara perused the documents relevant to the estate presented by Eva, he told Eva that he could not be of help to her.
A few days later, Eva learned that Atty. Doble Kara had just initiated intestate proceedings involving the same estate in the RTC, and the petitioner seeking appointment as administratrix was Mely, Eva’s hostile cousin and co-heir to the estate.
Eva moved to immediately disqualify Atty. Doble Kara from representing Mely on the ground of conflict of interest, but Atty. Doble Kara explained to the estate court that there was no conflict of interest because he had no lawyer-client relationship with Eva. He further indicated that Eva had not also paid him any retainer fee.
Given his explanations to the estate court, may Atty. Doble Kara ethically represent Mely? (4%)
Under jurisprudence, previous consultation bar a lawyer from representing another party on the ground of conflict of interest. Otherwise stated, if a lawyer is consulted on a matter and turned down the engagement, he/she may not accept engagement on the same matter for an opposing party on the ground of conflict of interest. Rule
In the case at bar, Eva consulted Atty. Kara for the purpose of being represented in the estate proceeding of her grandaunt resulting in giving the lawyer the documents to be reviewed. While Atty. Kara declined representation, she is barred from representing an opposing party, in this case refers to Mely, on the same matter that she was previously consulted on. Apply
Thus, Atty. Kara cannot ethically represent Mely. Conclusion
(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)
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