(Question A.4, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2019 Bar Exam)
Mr. L sought legal advice from his lawyer, Atty. M, regarding the possibility of annulling his marriage. In the course of their conversation, Mr. L mentioned that he would be able to immediately pay Atty. M’s legal fees because he received a huge kickback from a favored supplier in relation to his work as member of his Municipality’s Bids and Awards Committee.
(a) Is the communication made by Mr. L to Atty. M regarding the kickback he received presumed to be confidential? Explain. (3%)
(b) What is the duty of a lawyer when, in the course of his representation, he discovered that his client committed fraud upon a person or a tribunal? (2%)
(a) Yes. Answer
Under the Code of Professional Responsibility and jurisprudence, a lawyer shall be bound by the rule on privilege communication in respect of matters disclosed to him by a prospective client. One of the factors to determine whether there is an attorney-client relationship is that the client made the communication anticipating a prospective attorney-client relationship. Rule
In the case at bar, Mr. L was in the process of seeking legal advice from Atty. M when Mr. L mentioned of the kickback. The revelation was hence in the context of a prospective attorney-client relationship which is covered by the rule on privilege communication. Apply
Thus, the communication made by Mr. L to Atty. M regarding the kickback he received is presumed to be confidential. Conclusion
(b) Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer who has received information that his client has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated a fraud upon a person or tribunal, shall promptly call upon the client to rectify the same, and failing which he shall terminate the relationship with such client in accordance with the Rules of Court.
(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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