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G.R. No. L-12510 – 36 Phil 797 – Legal Ethics – Unauthorized Practice of Law
In 1914, a lawyer named Salvador Laguda filed a petition before the Iloilo CFI recommending that he is appointing Cesareo Durban as his procurador judicial (legal representative). The judge of the CFI approved the petition. The authority granted to Durban, a non-lawyer, is limited to the following: appear in matters signed and presented by Laguda with his own signature and when the latter should send Durban to attend to such matters; that Durban should have no authority to make contracts to represent any person in any justice court; that all contracts and appearances should be made by Laguda, and that the latter could send Durban to represent him in courts; and finally that Durban should not collect any sum for any service.
In one instance however, Durban agreed to represent one Eustaquia Montage in litigating her claim over a P20.00 worth parcel of land. Durban charged for appearance fees; he even won the case. Montage paid Durban a total of P50.00.
ISSUE: Whether or not Durban engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
HELD: Yes. Section 34 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 1919, says:
No person not duly authorized to practice law may engage in the occupation of appearing for or defending other persons in justice of the peace courts without being first authorized for that purpose by the judge of the Court of First Instance.
Durban acted beyond the authority granted him; he was likewise in violation of the provision above.