Blog Lecture No. 35: How can a lawyer bind his client

Hello again class! With the news item the Lawyer Pedro Ferrer, the President’s lawyer for the impeachment, already admitted for his client that she was talking to the Commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano as a backdrop, let us discuss how a lawyer’s action can bind his client.

According to the Supreme Court, it is basic doctrine that the authority of an attorney to bind his client as to any admission of facts made by him is limited to matters of judicial procedure. An admission which operates as a waiver, surrender, or destruction of the client’s cause is beyond the scope of the attorney’s implied authority (People vs. Maceda, 73 Phil. 679 [1942], cited in People vs. Hernanes, G.R. No. 139416, 12 March 2002).

Section 23, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states:

Authority of attorneys to bind clients. — Attorneys have authority to bind their clients in any case by any agreement in relation thereto made in writing, and in taking appeals, and in all matters of ordinary judicial procedure. But they cannot, without special authority, compromise their client’s litigation, or receive anything in discharge of client’s claim but the full amount in case.

What does this mean?

An attorney can only bind his client in procedural matters. If the lawyer made a mistake as to miss a filing of a pleading, miss a deadline for an appeal, etc., a client is bound by it.

For example, if an attorney neglected to file an appeal on time, the client cannot say that since it was his lawyer’s fault, he should not suffer for it.

What are matters of a client’s cause?

They are matters relating to very merit of his/her cause of action (translation: the act of ommission by which one party violates the right of another) or defense.

These include admissions of crucial facts tending to incriminate or open someone to liability.

In such matters, can an attorney bind his client?

NO. As he can only bind a client in matters of procedure.

In matters of substance, and a client’s cause, however, a lawyer cannot, as stated above.

Is there an exception to this?

Of course. Every rule has an exception.

If the client has specificially authorized his/her client to make such an admission, the lawyers admission would then bind the client.

So what does Pedro Ferrer’s apparent admission mean?

Nothing…

Anything else to add?

Just this, according to Rule 138:

Sec. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. – An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him to appear in court for his client, but the presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney wilfully appearing in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions.

Sec. 22. Attorney who appears in lower court presumed to represent client on appeal. – An attorney who appears de parte in a case before a lower court shall be presumed to continue representing his client on appeal, unless he files a formal petition withdrawing his appearance in the appellate court.

What does this mean?

Normally an attorney is pressumed to represent his client when he enters his appearance in court and need not present his authority to appear as such, except when there are reasonable grounds to believe otherwise.

Also, an attorney representing a client in a lower court is likewise pressumed to represent his/her in appellate procedings (translation: any type of appeal) unless he formally withdraws.

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