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Digests for cases 36-40 for midterms said Secretary of Public Works and Communication, petition Exhibit

B asking for the reduction of toll charges over the eleven (11) bridges
Prepared by Raphael Andrada
in Occidental Negros. The Insular authorities readily saw the justice
Notes: of the transportation companies' petition and urged the provincial
board of Occidental Negros to act favorably. The provincial board,
Underlined – important parts. Kahit ito lang siguro isulat nyo. however, declined to follow the suggestion. As a result of this
Detailed kasi ako magdigest so mej mahaba gawa ko, sorry. reduction of tolls, the respondents have been benefited with an
Italized – Procedures. economy of P78,448 for every eighteen months. (Exhibit V.) The
various incidental questions raised by the petitioner revolves around
[G.R. No. 46396. September 30, 1939.] the reasonable compensation to which he is entitled, and we pass on
ALEJANDRO DE GUZMAN, petitioner, vs. VISAYAN RAPID TRANSIT to the consideration of this point.
CO., INC., NEGROS TRANSPORTATION CO., INC., and NICOLAS Issue:
CONCEPCION, respondents.
W/N the petitioner is entitled to compensation
Facts:
How much is the petitioner entitled to (see syllabus)
The Visayan Rapid Transit Co. and the Negros Transportation Co.,
Inc., during the time the legal services are claimed to have been Held:
rendered by the petitioner, were operating automobile lines in the 1. Yes; the Supreme Court held that although the professional
Province of Occidental Negros. The respondent, Nicolas Concepcion, services rendered by the petitioner are purely administrative
was at the time the president, general manager, and controlling and did not require a high degree of professional skill and
stockholder of these two transportation companies. In January, 1933, experience, the fact remains that these services were
Concepcion engaged the professional services of the petitioner, who rendered and were productive of substantial beneficial
was then a law practitioner in the City of Manila. The employment results to his clients. It is clear that for these services the
was for the purpose of obtaining the suppression, reduction and petitioner is entitled to compensation.
refund of certain toll rates on various bridges along the line operated
by the respondent transportation companies. The herein petitioner SYLLABUS:
accordingly took steps to obtain first the suppression, and later the 1. ATTORNEY AND CLIENT; ATTORNEY'S FEES; SERVICES OF
reduction of toll rates on said bridges and also the refund of P50,000 ADMINISTRATIVE NATURE. — Although the professional
of toll charges already collected by the Province of Occidental services rendered by the petitioner are purely administrative
Negros. Believing that the suppression of tolls on the Bago and and did not require a high degree of professional skill and
Malogo bridges could not be effected, the petitioner filed with the experience, the fact remains that these services were
rendered and were productive of substantial beneficial the lawyer to which they are related, acquire an
results to his clients. It is clear that for these services the unquestionable value. That is why even the time employed is
petitioner is entitled to compensation. not in itself an appropriate basis for fixing the compensation.
(Haussermann vs. Rahmeyer, 12 Phil., 350; Bachrach vs. Teal
2. ID.; ID.; CIRCUMSTANCES DETERMINING ATTORNEY'S and Teal Motor Co., 53 Phil., 631, 634.)
FEES. — The following are the circumstances to be considered
in determining the compensation of an attorney: the amount 4. ID.; ID.; ID. — "It is elementary that an attorney is entitled
and character of the services rendered; the labor, time, and to have and receive the just and reasonable compensation for
trouble involved; the nature and importance of the litigation services performed at the special instance and request of his
or business in which the services were rendered; the client. . . That is to say, as long as the plaintiff was honestly
responsibility imposed; the amount of money or the value of and in good faith trying to serve and represent the interest of
the property affected by the controversy, or involved in the the client, he should have a reasonable compensation for his
employment, the skill and experience called for in the services. . . (Wolfson vs. Anderson, 48 Phil., 672, 675.)
performance of the services; the professional character and
social standing of the attorney; the results secured; and 5. ID.; ID.; ID. — The amount of the professional fees to be
whether or not the fee is absolute or contingent, it being a paid to the petitioner had not been fixed, but the intention
recognized rule that an attorney may properly charge a much and promise to pay him is evidently shown by the records in
larger fee when it is to be contingent than when it is not. The this case. And in any case, whether there is an agreement or
financial ability of the defendant may also be considered net not, the courts can fix a reasonable compensation which
to enhance the amount above a reasonable compensation, lawyers should receive for their professional services. (Panis
but to determine whether or not he is able to pay a fair and vs. Yangco, 52 Phil., 499, 502.) No hard and fast rule can be
just compensation for the services rendered, or as an incident stated which will serve even as a guide in determining what
in ascertaining the importance and gravity of the interests is or what is not a reasonable fee. That must be determined
involved in the litigation. (Delgado vs. De la Rama, 43 Phil., from the face in each case. (2 Thornton on Attorney at Law,
419; Panis vs. Yangco, 52 Phil., 499.) p. 783.)

3. ID; ID.; ID. — The importance, merits and value of 6. ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — Facts and circumstances
professional services of a lawyer are measured not alone by considered, Held: That the reasonable compensation of the
his work taken separately, but by his work taken as a whole. petitioner is P7,000, deducting therefrom, however, the sum
There are services which, when taken separately, may not in of P1,280 which the petitioner had already received.
themselves have any noticeable special merit, but when
considered in connection with the other works and services of
[G.R. No. L-28899. May 30, 1974.] petitioner. At the said hearing Municipal Judge Saludares testified by
more or less reiterating the testimony he previously gave at the
ALFREDO C. TAJAN, petitioner, vs. HON. VICENTE N. CUSI, JR., Judge,
hearing of the petition for relief from the order in Misc. Case No. 2968
Court of First Instance of Davao, respondent.
allowing the issuance of an owner's duplicate of title. The
Facts: continuation of the hearing was set for April 26, 1968. On April 15,
1968, petitioner filed the present petition, and on April 17, 1968, this
In this original action of prohibition petitioner Alfredo C. Tajan Court gave due course thereto and ordered the issuance of a writ of
challenges the authority of respondent Judge of the Court of First preliminary injunction upon petitioner's posting of a bond.
Instance of Davao to hear Administrative Case No. 59 of said court Petitioner's thesis is that respondent Judge has no authority on his
involving a disciplinary action initiated against petitioner as a own motion to hear and determine proceedings for disbarment or
member of the Philippine Bar. In a letter dated December 5, 1967 suspension of attorneys because jurisdiction thereon is vested
addressed to petitioner Alfredo C. Tajan, he was required by exclusively and originally in the Supreme Court and not in courts of
respondent Judge to explain within 72 hours why he should not be first instance. Petitioner also contends that assuming arguendo that
removed or suspended from the practice of law for preparing, or courts of first instance have such authority, the procedure outlined
causing to be prepared, a petition in court containing factual in Rule 139 of the Revised Rules of Court should govern the filing and
averments which petitioner knew were false. Petitioner, in answer investigation of the complaint.
thereto, wrote a letter to respondent Judge on December 7, 1967
denying the material averments of respondent Judge's letter and Issue:
explaining the circumstances under which he prepared the
W/N the Court of First Instance can hear and determine proceedings
aforementioned petition. Apparently not satisfied with petitioner's
for disbarment / suspension cases of attorneys.
answer, respondent Judge had his letter filed and docketed as Adm.
Case No. 59 against petitioner, and, together with Adm. Case No. 58 Held:
against Atty. Justo Cinco, gave due course thereto and set the same
Yes; The power to exclude unfit and unworthy members of
for hearing on January 24 and 25, 1968. At the hearing on January 24,
the legal profession stems from the inherent power of the Supreme
1968, petitioner questioned, among others, the propriety of the
Court to regulate the practice of law and the admission of persons to
proceedings, contending that since the case was one for disbarment,
engage in that practice. It is a necessary incident to the proper
respondent Judge had no jurisdiction over the person of petitioner as
administration of justice. An attorney-at-law is an officer of the court
well as the subject matter thereof. Petitioner orally moved that
in the administration of justice and as such he is continually
respondent Judge inhibit himself from hearing the administrative
accountable to the Court for the manner in which he exercises the
case in view of the latter's conflicting positions as prosecutor and
privilege which has been granted to him. His admission to the
judge at the same time. The oral motion was denied. On February 1,
practice of law is upon the implied condition that his continued
1968, respondent Judge proceeded to hear the evidence against
enjoyment of the right conferred, is dependent upon his remaining a
fit and safe person to exercise it. When it appears by acts of notice he fails to appear and answer the accusation, the court may
misconduct that he has become unfit to continue with the trust proceed to determine the matter ex parte."
reposed upon him, his right to continue in the enjoyment of that trust
These provisions were taken from Sections 22, 23 and 25,
and for the enjoyment of the professional privilege accorded to him
respectively, of the Code of Civil Procedure, which read:
may and ought to be forfeited. The law accords to the Court of
Appeals and the Court of First Instance the power to investigate and "SEC. 22. Suspension of lawyers. — Courts of First Instance may
suspend members of the bar. suspend a lawyer from the further practice of his profession for any
of the causes named in the last preceding section, and after such
The following provisions of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court are
suspension such lawyer will not be privileged to practice his
applicable:
profession in any of the courts of the Islands until further action of
"SEC. 28. Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court the Supreme Court in the premises.
of First Instance. — Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance may
"SEC. 23. Proceedings upon suspension. — Upon such suspension the
suspend an attorney from practice for any of the causes named in the
judge of the Court of First Instance ordering the suspension shall
last preceding section, and after such suspension such attorney shall
forthwith transmit to the Supreme Court a certified copy of the order
not practice his profession until further action of the Supreme Court
of suspension and a full statement of the facts upon which the same
in the premises.
was based. Upon the receipt of such certified copy and statement,
"SEC. 29. Upon suspension by Court of Appeals or Court of First the Supreme Court shall make full investigation of the facts involved
Instance, further proceedings in Supreme Court. Upon such and make such order revoking or extending the suspension, or
suspension, the Court of Appeals or the Court of First Instance shall removing the lawyer permanently from the roll as it shall find the
forthwith transmit to the Supreme Court a certified copy of the order facts to warrant.
of suspension and a full statement of the facts upon which the same
"SEC. 25. Hearing of charges. — No lawyer shall be removed from the
was based. Upon the receipt of such certified copy and statement,
roll or be suspended from the performance of his profession until he
the Supreme Court shall make full investigation of the facts involved
has had full opportunity to answer the charges against him, and to
and make such order revoking or extending the suspension, or
produce witnesses in his own behalf and to be heard by himself and
removing the attorney from his office as such, as the facts warrant.
counsel, if he so desires, upon reasonable notice. But if upon
"SEC. 30. Attorney to be heard before removal or suspension. — No reasonable notice the accused fails to appear and answer the
attorney shall be removed or suspended from the practice of his accusation, the court may proceed to determine the matter ex
profession, until he has had full opportunity upon reasonable notice parte."
to answer the charges against him, to produce witnesses in his own
behalf, and to be heard by himself or counsel. But if upon reasonable
[A.C. No. 620 . March 21, 1974.] for a number of years. On April 19, 1963, respondent Atty. de Vera
received a copy of the decision but he failed to inform his clients of
JOSE ALCALA and AVELINA IMPERIAL, petitioners, vs. HONESTO DE
the judgment against them. On July 17, 1963, a sheriff came to
VERA, respondent.
complainants' house to serve a writ of execution issued in said case.
Facts: Totally caught by surprise, Jose Alcala immediately wrote to the trial
court and inquired for the status of case 2478. The deputy Clerk of
On May 19, 1964, Jose Alcala (now deceased) and his wife, Avelina Court, in his reply dated July 22, 1963, informed Alcala that the case
Imperial, filed this present petition for disbarment against was decided on April 17, 1963, that a copy of the decision was
respondent Honesto de Vera, a practicing attorney of Locsin, Albay, received by respondent attorney on April 19, 1963, and that since no
who was retained by them as their counsel in civil case 2478 of the appeal was taken, a writ of execution was issued by the trial court on
Court of First Instance of Albay, entitled: "Ray Semenchuk vs. Jose motion of the plaintiff Semenchuk. On September 12, 1963, spouses
Alcala". Complainants charge Atty. Honesto de Vera with gross Alcala instituted civil case 2723 for damages against Atty. Honesto de
negligence and malpractice: 1) for having maliciously and Vera for having failed to inform them of the decision in case 2478 as
deliberately omitted to notify them of the decision in civil case 2478 a result of which they lost their right to appeal from said decision. The
resulting in the deprivation of their right to appeal from the adverse trial court that heard case 2723 found for a fact that respondent did
judgment rendered against them; and 2) for respondent's not inform his clients of the decision rendered in case 2478; however,
indifference, disloyalty and lack of interest in petitioners' cause it denied damages for lack of proof that the spouses Alcala suffered
resulting to their damage and prejudice. Civil case 2478 was an action any damage as a result of respondent's failure to notify them of the
for annulment of a sale of two parcels of land (lots Nos. 1880 and aforesaid decision. The judgment in case 2723 was appealed to the
1883 covered by TCT Nos. T-12392 and 12393 respectively) filed by Court of Appeals 1 by respondent herein but the same was affirmed
the vendee, Ray Semenchuk, against the vendors, spouses Alcala, on by said appellate court. Not content with having filed case 2723,
the ground that lot 1880 "could not be located or did not exist", and complainants instituted this complaint for disbarment against their
for the recovery of damages and attorney's fees. Respondent former counsel.
attorney, whose legal services were engaged by complainants, filed
an answer denying the material allegations of the above-mentioned Issue:
complaint and setting up a counterclaim for the balance of the
Is respondent's failure to notify his clients of the decision sufficient
purchase price of the lots sold, the expenses of notarials, internal
cause for his disbarment?
revenue, registration, etc. plus damages and attorney's fees. On April
17, 1963, the trial court rendered judgment rescinding the contract of Held:
sale on the ground that the vendee Semenchuk was not able to take
No; We concur with the above-quoted observations (Solicitor
material possession of lot 1880 it being in the possession of a certain
General Report) and add that the correctness of the decision in case
Ruperto Ludovice and his brothers who have been occupying the land
2478 is no ground for exonerating respondent of the charge but at
most will serve only to mitigate his liability. While there is no finding some controlling power, some discretion, ought to reside in the
of malice, deceit, or deliberate intent to cause damage to his clients, Court. This discretion ought to be exercised with great moderation
there is, nonetheless, proof of negligence, inattention, and and judgment: but it must be exercised. (Ex parte Burr. 9 Wheat 529:
carelessness on the part of respondent in his failure to give timely Martin, Legal & Judicial Ethics 1972 Ed. p. 213.)
notice of the decision in question. Fortunately for respondent, his
Although respondent's negligence does not warrant disbarment or
negligence did not result in any material or pecuniary damage to the
suspension under the circumstances of the case, nonetheless it
herein complainants and for this reason We are not disposed to
cannot escape a rebuke from Us as we hereby rebuke and censure
impose upon him what may be considered in a lawyer's career as the
him, considering that his failure to notify his clients of the decision in
extreme penalty of disbarment. As stated in the very early case of In
question manifests a lack of total dedication or devotion to their
Re Macdougall:
interest expected of him under his lawyer's oath and the Canons of
"The disbarment of an attorney is not intended as a punishment, but Professional Ethics. Respondent's inaction merits a severe censure
is rather intended to protect the administration of justice by from the Court.
requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be
WHEREFORE, on the basis of the evidence, the report and
competent, honorable, and reliable: men in whom courts and clients
recommendation of the Solicitor General, and the fact that this
may repose confidence. This purpose should be borne in mind in the
appears to be the first misconduct of respondent in the exercise of his
exercise of disbarment, and the power should be exercised with that
legal profession, We hereby hold said respondent GUILTY only of
caution which the serious consequences of the action involves.
simple negligence in the performance of his duties as a lawyer of
"The profession of an attorney is acquired after long and laborious complainants, and We hereby SEVERELY CENSURE him. Let this
study. It is a lifetime profession. By years of patience, zeal, and ability, decision be noted in respondent's record — as a member of the Bar
the attorney may have acquired a fixed means of support for himself — in this Court.
and family, of great pecuniary value, and the deprivation of which
[G.R. Nos. L-51813-14. November 29, 1983.]
would result in irreparable injury." (3 Phil. 70, 77-78)
ROMULO CANTIMBUHAN, NELSON B. MALANA, and ROBERT V.
In the words of former Chief Justice Marshall of the United States
LUCILA, petitioners, vs. HON. NICANOR J. CRUZ, JR., Presiding Judge
Court:
of the Municipal Court of Parañaque, Metro Manila, and FISCAL
"On one hand, the profession of an attorney is of great importance LEODEGARIO C. QUILATAN, respondents.
to an individual and the prosperity of his whole life may depend on
Facts:
its exercise. The right to exercise it ought not to be lightly or
capriciously taken from him. On the other, it is extremely desirable Appeal from the Order, dated August 16, 1979, of respondent Judge
that the respectability of the bar should be maintained and that its Nicanor J. Cruz, Jr., of the then Municipal Court of Parañaque, Metro
harmony with the bench should be preserved. For these objects, Manila, disallowing the appearances of petitioners Nelson B. Malana
and Robert V. Lucila as private prosecutors in Criminal Cases Nos. jurisdiction. Upon motion, the Court, on November 8, 1979, issued a
58549 and 58550, both for less serious physical injuries, filed against temporary restraining order "enjoining respondent judge and all
Pat. Danilo San Antonio and Pat. Rodolfo Diaz, respectively, as well as persons acting for and in his behalf from conducting any proceedings
the Order, dated September 4, 1979, denying the motion for in Criminal Cases Nos. 58549 (People of the Philippines vs. Danilo San
reconsideration holding, among others, that "the fiscal's claim that Antonio) and 58559 (People of the Philippines vs. Rodolfo Diaz) of the
appearances of friends of party-litigants should be allowed only in Municipal Court of Parañaque, Metro Manila on November 15, 1979
places where there is a scarcity of legal practitioner, to be well as scheduled or on any such dates as may be fixed by said respondent
founded. For, if we are to allow non-members of the bar to appear in judge."
court and prosecute cases or defend litigants in the guise of being
Issue:
friends of the litigants, then the requirement of membership in the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the additional requirement of W/N The petitioners (senior law students of UP) are allowed to
paying professional taxes for a lawyer to appear in court, would be appear in court
put to naught." (p. 25, Rollo)
Held:
Petitioners Nelson B. Malana and Robert V. Lucila, in 1979, were
senior law students of the U.P. College of Law where, as part of the Yes; Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, clearly provides that
curriculum of the university they were required to render legal in the municipal court a party may conduct his litigation in person
assistance to the needy clients in the Office of the Legal Aid. Thus, in with the aid of an agent appointed by him for the purpose. Thus, in
August 1979, petitioners Malana and Lucila filed their separate the case of Laput vs. Bernabe, 55 Phil. 621, a law student was allowed
appearances, as friends of complainant-petitioner Cantimbuhan. to represent the accused in a case pending before the then Municipal
Herein respondent Fiscal Leodegario C. Quilatan opposed the Court, the City Court of Manila, who was charged for damages to
appearances of said petitioners, and respondent judge, in an Order property through reckless imprudence. "It is accordingly our view
dated August 16, 1979, sustained the respondent fiscal and that error was committed in the municipal court in not allowing
disallowed the appearances of petitioners Malana and Lucila, as Crispiniano V. Laput to act as an agent or friend of Catalino Salas to
private prosecutors in said criminal cases. Likewise, on September 4, aid the latter in conducting his defense." The permission of the fiscal
1979, respondent Judge issued an order denying petitioners' motion is not necessary for one to enter his appearance as private
for reconsideration. prosecutor. In the first place, the law does not impose this condition.
What the fiscal can do, if he wants to handle the case personally is to
Hence, this petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition with disallow the private prosecutor's participation, whether he be a
prayers, among others, that the Orders of respondent judge, dated lawyer or not, in the trial of the case. On the other hand, if the fiscal
August 16, 1979 and September 4, 1979, be set aside as they are in desires the active participation of the private prosecutor, he can just
plain violation of Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and/or manifest to the court that the private prosecutor, with its approval,
were issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of will conduct the prosecution of the case under his supervision and
control. Further, We may add that if a non-lawyer can appear as IN THE PROSECUTION OF THE CIVIL ACTION IF NOT EXPRESSLY
defense counsel or as friend of the accused in a case before the WAIVED NOR RESERVATION TO INSTITUTE IT SEPARATELY IS MADE.
municipal trial court, with more reason should he be allowed to — In the two criminal cases, filed before the Municipal Court of
appear as private prosecutor under the supervision and control of the Parañaque, petitioner Cantimbuhan, as the offended party, did
trial fiscal. expressly waive the civil action nor reserve his right to institute it
separately and, therefore, the civil action is deemed impliedly
SYLLABUS
instituted in said criminal cases. Thus, said complainant Romulo
1. REMEDIAL LAW; LITIGATION BEFORE THE MUNICIPAL COURT; BY Cantimbuhan has personal interest in the success of the civil action
WHOM CONDUCTED. — Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, and, in the prosecution of the same, he cannot be deprived of his right
clearly provides that in the municipal court a party may conduct his to be assisted by a friend who is not a lawyer.
litigation in person with the aid of an agent appointed by him for the
[G.R. No. 62909. April 18, 1989.]
purpose. Thus, in the case of Laput vs. Bernabe, 55 Phil. 621, a law
student was allowed to represent the accused in a case pending HYDRO RESOURCES CONTRACTORS CORPORATION, petitioner, vs.
before the then Municipal Court, the City Court of Manila, who was LABOR ARBITER ADRIAN N. PAGALILAUAN and the NATIONAL
charged for damages to property through reckless imprudence. LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, public respondents, and ROGELIO
A. ABAN, private respondent.
2. ID.; ID.; APPEARANCE OF PRIVATE PROSECUTOR; PERMISSION OF
FISCAL NOT REQUIRED. — The permission of the fiscal is not necessary Facts:
for one to enter his appearance as private prosecutor. In the first
This is a petition to review on certiorari the resolution of the
place, the law does not impose this condition. What the fiscal can do,
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which affirmed the
if he wants to handle the case personally is to disallow the private
labor arbiter's decision ordering herein petitioner, Hydro Resources
prosecutor's participation, whether he be a lawyer or not, in the trial
Contractors Corporation to reinstate Rogelio A. Aban to his former
of the case. On the other hand, if the fiscal desires the active
position without loss of seniority rights, to pay him 12 months
participation of the private prosecutor, he can just manifest to the
backwages in the amount of P18,000.00 and to pay attorney's fees in
court that the private prosecutor, with its approval, will conduct the
the amount of P1,800.00.
prosecution of the case: under his supervision and control. Further,
We may add that if a non-lawyer can appear as defense counsel or as On October 24, 1978, petitioner corporation hired the private
friend of the accused in a case before the municipal trial court, with respondent Aban as its "Legal Assistant." He received a basic monthly
more reason should he be allowed to appear as private prosecutor salary of P1,500.00 plus an initial living allowance of P50.00 which
under the supervision and control of the trial fiscal. gradually increased to P320.00.
3. ID.; ID.; PROSECUTION FOR LESS SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURIES; On September 4, 1980, Aban received a letter from the corporation
COMPLAINANT ENTITLED TO ASSISTANCE OF A NON-LAWYER FRIEND informing him that he would be considered terminated effective
October 4, 1980 because of his alleged failure to perform his duties nurses, dentists, public relations practitioners, and other
well. professionals. Aban was employed by the petitioner to be its Legal
Assistant as evidenced by his appointment paper (Exhibit "A"). The
On October 6, 1980, Aban filed a complaint against the petitioner for
petitioner paid him a basic salary plus living allowance. Thereafter,
illegal dismissal.
Aban was dismissed on his alleged failure to perform his duties well.
The labor arbiter ruled that Aban was illegally dismissed. This ruling (Exhibit "B"). Aban worked solely for the petitioner and dealt only
was affirmed by the NLRC on appeal. with legal matters involving the said corporation and its employees.
He also assisted the Personnel Officer in processing appointment
The petitioner contends that its relationship with Aban is that of a papers of employees. This latter duty is not an act of lawyer in the
client with his lawyer. It is its position that "(a) lawyer as long as he is exercise of his profession but rather a duty for the benefit of the
acting as such, as long as he is performing acts constituting practice corporation. The above-mentioned facts show that the petitioner
of law, can never be considered an employee. His relationship with paid Aban's wages, exercised its power to hire and fire the
those to whom he renders services, as such lawyer, can never be respondent employee and more important, exercised control over
governed by the labor laws. For a lawyer to so argue is not only Aban by defining the duties and functions of his work.
demeaning to himself (sic), but also his profession and to his brothers
in the profession." Thus, the petitioner argues that the labor arbiter SYLLABUS
and NLRC have no jurisdiction over the instant case.
1. LABOR LAWS; EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP; LAWYER IN
Issue: THE EXERCISE OF PROFESSION DISTINGUISHED FROM LAWYER AS AN
EMPLOYEE. — A lawyer, like any other professional, may very well be
W/N there was an employer-employee relationship between the an employee of a private corporation or even of the government. It is
petitioner corporation and Aban not unusual for a big corporation to hire a staff of lawyers as its in-
Held: house counsel, pay them regular salaries, rank them in its table of
organization, and otherwise treat them like its other officers and
Yes; A lawyer, like any other professional, may very well be an employees. At the same time, it may also contract with a law firm to
employee of a private corporation or even of the government. It is act as outside counsel on a retainer basis. The two classes of lawyers
not unusual for a big corporation to hire a staff of lawyers as its in- often work closely together but one group is made up of employees
house counsel, pay them regular salaries, rank them in its table of while the other is not. A similar arrangement may exist as to doctors,
organization, and otherwise treat them like its other officers and nurses, dentists, public relations practitioners, and other
employees. At the same time, it may also contract with a law firm to professionals. Aban was employed by the petitioner to be its Legal
act as outside counsel on a retainer basis. The two classes of lawyers Assistant as evidenced by his appointment paper (Exhibit "A"). The
often work closely together but one group is made up of employees petitioner paid him a basic salary plus living allowance. Thereafter,
while the other is not. A similar arrangement may exist as to doctors, Aban was dismissed on his alleged failure to perform his duties well.
(Exhibit "B"). Aban worked solely for the petitioner and dealt only with him. The real issue was due process, not the specious argument raised
legal matters involving the said corporation and its employees. He in this petition.
also assisted the Personnel Officer in processing appointment papers
4. ID.; APPEAL; FINDINGS OF FACT OF LABOR ARBITER RESPECTED. —
of employees. This latter duty is not an act of lawyer in the exercise of
The findings of fact of the Labor Arbiter being supported by
his profession but rather a duty for the benefit of the corporation. The
substantial evidence are binding on this Court. (See Industrial Timber
above-mentioned facts show that the petitioner paid Aban's wages,
Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 83616,
exercised its power to hire and fire the respondent employee and
January 20, 1989).
more important, exercised control over Aban by defining the duties
and functions of his work. 5. ID.; EMPLOYMENT; ILLEGAL DISMISSAL; REINSTATEMENT AND
BACKWAGES WARRANTED IN CASE AT BAR. — Considering that the
2. ID.; ID.; TEST FOR EXISTENCE THEREOF; "RIGHT-OF-CONTROL"
private respondent was illegally dismissed from his employment in
TEST; DECISIVE FACTOR. — This Court is not without a guide in
1980, he is entitled to reinstatement to his former or similar position
deciding whether or not an employer-employee relation exists
without loss of seniority rights, if it is still feasible, to backwages
between the contending parties. As stated in the case of Tabas v.
without qualification or deduction for three years. (D.M. Consunji, Inc.
California Manufacturing Co., (G.R. No. 80680, January 26, 1989):
v. Pucan, 159 SCRA 107 (1988); Flores v. Nuestro, G.R. No. 66890,
"This Court has consistently ruled that the determination of whether
April 15, 1988), and to reasonable attorney's fees in the amount of
or not there is an employer-employee relation depends upon four
P5,000.00. Should reinstatement prove no longer feasible, the
standards: (1) the manner of selection and engagement of the
petitioner will pay him separation pay in lieu of reinstatement. (City
putative employee; (2) the mode of payment of wages; (3) the
Trust Finance Co; p. v. NLRC, 157 SCRA 87; Santos v. NLRC, 154 SCRA
presence or absence of a power of dismissal; and (4) the presence or
166; Metro Drug v. NLRC, et al., 143 SCRA 132; Luzon Brokerage v.
absence of a power to control the putative employee's conduct. Of
Luzon Labor Union, 7 SCRA 116). The amount of such separation pay
the four, the right-of-control test has been held to be the decisive
as may be provided by law or the collective bargaining agreement is
factor."
to be computed based on the period from 24 October 1978 (date of
3. ID.; ID.; DENIAL OF THE EXISTENCE THEREOF BARRED BY ESTOPPEL. first employment) to 4 October 1983 (three years after date illegal
— Estoppel lies against the petitioner. It may no longer question the dismissal). [Manila Midtown Commercial Corporation v. Nuwhrain,
jurisdiction of the labor arbiter and NLRC. The petitioner presented 159 SCRA 212 (1988)].
documents (Exhibits "2" to "19") before the Labor Arbiter to prove
that Aban was a managerial employee. Now, it is disclaiming that
Aban was ever its employee. The proper procedure was for the
petitioner to prove its allegations that Aban drank heavily, violated
company policies, spent company funds and properties for personal
ends, and otherwise led the employer to lose trust and confidence in