SC: 3-year suspension from practice due to lawyer's gross negligence, dishonesty

In administrative complaints against lawyers, the Supreme Court has exercised its discretion on what penalty to impose on the basis of the facts of the case. In case of  lawyer's failure to file a brief or other pleading, the Supreme Court had imposed penalties ranging from reprimand, warning with fine, suspension, and in aggravated cases, disbarment.[1]In Olvida v. Atty. Gonzales,[2] the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors imposed a four-month suspension from the practice of law on the respondent for his negligence in filing the required position paper. The established facts, however, show that the respondent was not only grossly negligent in the performance of his duties as the complainant's lawyer; he was also downright dishonest and unethical in his dealings with the complainant, an aspect of the case glossed over during the IBP investigation.

For the injury he caused to the complainant and his family because of his malpractice, the respondent must be made to suffer the commensurate penalty, despite the fact that there was no motion for reconsideration of the IBP resolution. In this light, the Supreme Court deemed a three-year suspension from the practice of law an appropriate penalty for the respondent's gross negligence and dishonesty in his handling of the complainant's tenancy case.

[1] Supra note 28, at 7-8, citing Vda. De Orbiana v. Gerio, A.C. No. 1582, February 28, 1979, 88 SCRA 586; Basas v. Icawat, A.C. No. 4282, August 24, 2000, 338 SCRA 648; Rabanal v. Tugade, A.C. No. 1372, June 27, 2002, 383 SCRA 484; and Mariveles v. Mallari, A.C. No. 3294, February 7, 1993.
[2] A.C. No. 5732, June 16, 2015.