Strike two! Abogada suspended anew for neglecting client’s annulment case

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The Supreme Court has suspended abogada Grace Buri for two years for failing to file her client’s annulment petition, her second disciplinary sanction in under a year.

In a recent 7-page en banc decision, the SC found Buri guilty of violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, Canon 15, Rules 16.01 and 16.03 of Canon 16, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The SC ordered Buri to return the P188,000 legal fees to the complainant Pia Marie Go within 90 days from the finality of the decision. Otherwise, she may face a more severe penalty.

It also slapped Buri with a P5,000 fine for failure to comply with the directive to appear before the proceedings of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).

According to Go, she engaged Buri’s services to handle her annulment case in September 2012 and paid P150,000. Although Go was informed that the petition was filed before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC), she was not furnished a copy.

Go in February 2013 requested Buri to “hold” her case as she had to deal with personal problems, and the lawyer said she would “withdraw” the petition.

When Go decided to push through with the case in February 2015, Buri demanded an additional P38,000 purportedly for the refiling of the case. Yet, she again failed to furnish copies and issue receipts.

Growing suspicious, Go went to the court and discovered that the annulment petition was never filed.

The SC said Buri committed “inexcusable negligence” when she failed to take care of the legal matter entrusted to her by Go. It added that she “fell short” of the high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing required of lawyers.

“Respondent’s acts are not. only unacceptable, disgraceful, and dishonorable to the legal profession; they also reveal basic moral flaws that make her unfit to practice law,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

The SC also called out Buri’s failure to return the fees upon demand by Go.

Buri was already placed under one-year suspension in a March 19, 2018 decision for failing to pay her friend the P200,000 balance for the purchase of a condominium unit and then having the nerve to file an estafa complaint against the said friend.

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