Sep 16, 2020 @ 8:28

SC suspends University of the Visayas civil law professor for failing to properly inform court of client’s death

The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended a University of the Visayas Gullas Law School civil law professor from the practice of law for one month for filing an appeal in behalf of a client whose death he failed to formally report.

In a recent 6-page resolution, the SC 2nd Division found Bayani Atup guilty of violating Canon 1 and Rule 10.03, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). It “sternly warned” him that a similar offense would be “dealt with more severely.”

The SC said it was undisputed that Atup only informally notified the Court of Appeals (CA) of the May 31, 2013 death of his client Gabriel Yap, Sr., in the motion for reconsideration (MR) itself.

Atup also stated in the MR itself that Yap was survived by his heirs, but failed to mention his widow or the appointment of any administrator or executor of his estate.

The proper way would have been to follow the notification procedure under Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, by informing the court within 30 days of the client’s death and giving the names and addresses of his legal representatives.

The SC stressed that “the substitution of a deceased litigant is not automatic” because the legal representatives would be required to first appear before the court.

Thus, Atup was found guilty of failing to “promote respect for law and legal processes” and “observe the rules of procedure.”

On the other hand, the SC dismissed the allegation that Atup falsified the special power of attorney (SPA) executed by Yap in 1999. It said the forgery should be established first in appropriate civil or criminal proceedings and not in a disciplinary case.

The sanction arose from the complaint filed in 2015 by Letecia Siao, the respondent in a land dispute case that Yap elevated before the CA.

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