SC disbars lawyer in a per curiam ruling

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The Supreme Court disbarred a lawyer for his refusal to remit the settlement proceeds to his client despite the latter’s repeated demands in violation of Rules 1.01, 16.01, and 16.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In an eight-page per curiam decision, the SC also ordered the name of Atty. Jude Francis V. Zambrano stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys. It further directed Zambrano to immediately remit to complainant Diwei “Bryan” Huang the full amount of P250,000 with six percent interest from finality of the decision until full payment and to submit to it proof of payment within 10 days from said payment.

Rule 1.01 of the CPR provided that, “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.” Also, Rule 16.01 stated that, “A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client,” while Rule 16.03 provided that, “A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand….”

The Court held that Zambrano’s ignoring of “consecutive follow-ups and demands from the client without any acceptable reason corrodes the client’s trust and stains the legal profession.”

Huang, a Singaporean, engaged Zambrano’s services for P50,000 to file a criminal case for estafa against several individuals before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City.

As Huang was often out of the country, he communicated with Zambrano through email or Facebook chat messages. On or about the first week of January 2015, Atty. Zambrano informed Huang that the respondents in the estafa case were willing to pay Huang P250,000 settlement.

Huang then suggested that respondents either directly deposit the settlement money to his account or for Zambrano to give the money after the latter collected the same from the respondents to his (Huang’s) friend Ang Kevin Kar Wai.

Despite the respondents having already given Zambrano the settlement money, the latter did not turn over the money to Huang, telling the latter that the estafa case had not yet been formally dismissed and citing his Zambarano’s) busy schedule as well as personal and family issues.

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