Case Digest: Atty. Bermudo vs. Tayag-Roxas

G.R. No. 172879 : February 2, 2011




Atty. Ricardo Bermudo (Atty. Bermudo), as executor, filed a petition for his appointment as administrator of the estate of Artemio Hilario (Hilario) and for the allowance and probate of the latter’s will before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City. The RTC rendered a decision, allowing the will and recognizing Roxas as Hilario’s sole heir.

When the decision constituting Roxas as the sole heir became final, Atty. Bermudo who also served as counsel for her in the actions concerning her inheritance filed a motion to fix his legal fees and to constitute a charging lien against the estate for the legal services he rendered.

RTC granted him fees equivalent to 20% of the estate and constituted the same as lien on the estate’s property. Roxas appealed the order to the CA in CA-G.R. CV 53143, which adjusted the lawyer’s fees to 20% of the value of the land belonging to the estate. Atty. Bermudo subsequently filed a motion with the RTC for execution and appraisal of the estate on which his 20% compensation would be based.

The RTC granted the motion and ordered Roxas to pay Atty. Bermudo P12,644,300.00 as attorney’s fees with interest at the rate of 6% per annum. Roxas challenged the order before the CA through a petition for certiorari.

On December 19, 2005, using a different valuation of the land of the estate, the CA ordered Roxas to pay Atty. Bermudo a reduced amount of P4,234,770.00 as attorney's fees with interest at 6% per annum.


Whether or not the CA erred in not dismissing Roxas’ special civil action of certiorari when her remedy should have been an appeal from the settlement of his account as administrator.

Whether or not the CA erred in holding that Atty. Bermudo, as administrator, is entitled to collect attorney’s fees.


Petition lacks merit.

REMEDIAL LAW: Appeal, Order of Execution

First Issue:

Atty. Bermudo points out that Roxas’ remedy for contesting the RTC order of execution against her should be an ordinary appeal to the CA. He invokes Section 1, Rule 109 of the Revised Rules of Court which enumerates the orders or judgments in special proceedings from which parties may appeal. But the earlier award in Atty. Bermudo’s favor did not settle his account as administrator. Rather, it fixed his attorney’s fees for the legal services he rendered in the suit contesting Roxas’ right as sole heir. Consequently, Section 1 (d) of Rule 109 does not apply.

The fixing of such value at P12,644,300.00 was not appealable since it did not constitute a new judgment but an implementation of a final one. Being an order of execution, it is not appealable. Consequently, Roxas’ remedy in contesting the RTC’s exercise of discretion in ascertaining what constitutes 20% of the value of the estate’s lands is a special civil action of certiorari.

Legal Ethics: Attorney’s fees

Second Issue:

Roxas asserts that Atty. Bermudo is not entitled to attorney’s fees but only to compensation as administrator in accordance with Section 7, Rule 85 of the Rules of Court. But Atty. Bermudo did not only serve as administrator of the estate. He also served as Roxas’ counsel in the suit that assailed her right as sole heir. Atty. Bermudo brought the contest all the way up to this Court to defend her rights to her uncle’s estate. Acting as counsel in that suit for Roxas was not part of his duties as administrator of the estate. Consequently, it was but just that he is paid his attorney’s fees.

The decision of CA is affirmed.

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