Thursday, May 29, 2014

Case Digest: Bobby Rose Frias vs. Atty. Carmelita Bautista-Lozada

A.C. No. 6656
(Formerly CBD-98-591)
May 4, 2006

FACTS: Respondent Atty. Carmelita Bautista-Lozada was formerly found guilty of violating Rules 15.03 and 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and of willfully disobeying a final and executory decision of the Court of Appeals.  She was suspended from the practice of law for two years.
 
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of the Court, contending that, pursuant to Rule VIII of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the complaint against her was already barred by prescription. She also asserts that her December 7, 1990 loan agreement with complainant complied with Rule 16.04 because the interest of complainant was fully protected.
 
ISSUES: a. Whether or not the administrative complaint is barred by prescription?
 
              b. Whether or not Rule VIII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the CBD-IBP is valid?
 
RULING: a. Rule VIII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the CBD-IBP provides:
 
SECTION 1. Prescription. A complaint for disbarment, suspension or discipline of attorneys prescribes in two (2) years from the date of the professional misconduct.
 
 
However, as early as 1967, the Court has held that the defense of prescription does not lie in administrative proceedings against lawyers. And in the 2004 case of Heck v. Santos, the Court declared that an administrative complaint against a member of the bar does not prescribe.
 
       Moreover, assuming that prescription is a valid defense, respondent raised it only at this late stage. We presume she was familiar with that rule yet she failed to invoke it at the earliest opportunity. Instead she opted to insist on her innocence.
     
b. Rule VIII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the CBD-IBP which provides for a prescriptive period for the filing of administrative complaints against lawyers runs afoul of the settled ruling of the Court. It should therefore be struck down as void and of no legal effect for being ultra vires.
 
 Rule VIII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is hereby declared null and void
 

sMiLe!!

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