Canoy v. Ortiz (A.C. No. 5485; March 16, 2005)

CASE DIGEST: ELMER CANOY, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE MAX ORTIZ, respondent. [A. C. No. 5485. March 16, 2005]

FACTS: Atty. X's services were engaged by Y, who was illegally dismissed by his employer, Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines. The latter submitted all important files necessary for the establishment of the case. After the filing thereof, Y made several trips to X's office to no avail. His last trip prompted him to follow the case up with the NLRC by himself. He was aghast to discover that the case was already dismissed two years before.

In his defense, Atty. X commented that he had the intention of filing a motion to enter a compromise agreement. Unfortunately, he was not able to do so because of his tight schedule, being a newly-elected Councilor of Bacolod City. Decide.

HELD: Atty. X should be suspended from the practice of law.

A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client. He is expected to be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. Moreover, he is mandated by the Code of Professional Responsibility to serve his client with competence and diligence.

Here, Atty. X already took up the cause of his client. In doing so, he impliedly imposed upon himself the legal obligation to champion said cause until its termination with competence and diligence. Such competence requires that he no neglect any legal matter entrusted in him.

Being elected to a public office is not enough cause to leave one's client in the dark. Such act does not only erode the public's confidence in the lawyer, in particular, but also in the judiciary, in general. Hence, Atty. X must be held liable.