Legal Ethics

Teodoro Borlongan vs Rafael Buenaventura

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G.R. No. 167234 – 483 SCRA 405 – Legal Ethics – Death terminates Attorney-Client Relationship – Dead Client 

In 2001, Teodoro Borlongan, president of Urban Bank Inc. filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against Rafael Buenaventura, the governor of the Banko Sentral, and one Norberto Nazareno, president of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation. The complaint was in relation to the closure of Urban Bank and the subsequent administering of the bank’ asset which is being questioned by Borlongan as it was alleged that it was improperly done.

In 2002, the Ombudsman dismissed the case against Buenaventura but found Nazareno guilty of misconduct. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court. On March 16, 2005, Borlongan’s lawyer filed in the SC a motion for extension of time to file a petition for review on certiorari.

On April 11, 2005, Borlongan died.

On April 18, 2005, Borlongan’s counsel filed the petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appeal was perfected.

HELD: No. There are two requirements for the perfection of an appeal by way of a petition for review. First is the payment of the docket and other fees which was complied with by Borlongan. However, he failed to satisfy the second requisite (i.e. the filing of the verified petition within 15 days from receipt of the assailed decision or within the extended period granted by the Court) because he died on April 11, 2005 before he could file the petition.  The petition filed and verified by Borlongan’s counsel is a mere scrap of paper because he no longer has the authority to represent his deceased client. The settled rule is that attorney-client relationship is terminated upon the client’s death. A dead client has no personality and cannot be represented by an attorney.

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