ATTY. JOSE B. JIMENEZ, JR.,
E S O L U T I O N
us is a complaint for disciplinary action against Atty. Jose
Jimenez, Jr. filed by Engr. Alex B. Cueto with the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP), Commission on Bar Discipline.
Alex Cueto alleged that sometime in October 1999 he engaged the
services of respondent as notary public, the latter being the father of
the owner of the building subject of the Construction Agreement to
be notarized. He was then accompanied by a certain Val Rivera,
the building administrator of respondent’s son Jose Jimenez III.
notarizing the agreement, respondent demanded P50,000 as notarial fee.
Despite his surprise as to the cost of the notarial service,
complainant informed respondent that he only had P30,000 in cash.
Respondent persuaded complainant to pay the P30,000 and to issue a
check for the remaining P20,000. Being unfamiliar with the cost
of notarial services, complainant paid all his cash and issued a Far
East Bank check dated December 28, 1999 for the balance.
the maturity date of the check, complainant requested respondent not to
deposit the same for lack of sufficient funds. He also informed
respondent that the latter’s son Jose Jimenez III had not yet paid his
services as general contractor. Still, respondent deposited the check
which was consequently dishonored for insufficient funds. Meanwhile,
the P2,500,000 check issued by respondent’s son to complainant as
initial payment pursuant to the Construction Agreement was itself
dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account.
Atty. Jimenez lodged a complaint for violation of BP 22 against Cueto
before the City Prosecutor’s Office in Angeles City. The criminal
case was tried in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Angeles City, Branch
meantime, Cueto filed his own administrative complaint against Jimenez
on November 16, 2001. He alleged that Jimenez violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility and Canons of Professional Ethics when he
filed the criminal case against Cueto so he could collect the balance
of his notarial fee.
to Rule 139-B, Section 6 of the Rules of Court, respondent Jimenez was
required to answer the complaint filed against him. Despite notice,
however, respondent failed to file his answer and to appear before the
IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. After hearing the case ex-parte, the
case was deemed submitted for resolution.
report dated April 21, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
found respondent guilty of violating Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and recommended that Atty. Jose B. Jimenez,
Jr. be reprimanded.
June 29, 2002, the Board of Governors passed a resolution adopting
and approving the report and recommendation of the Investigating
to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the
above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as
Annex “A”; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and in view of
respondent’s violation of Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, respondent is hereby reprimanded.
claim that respondent’s P50,000 notarial fee was exorbitant is
debatable. As confirmed by the IBP, it is a recognized legal
practice in real estate transactions and construction projects to base
the amount of notarial fees on the contract price. Based on the amount
demanded by respondent, the fee represented only 1% of the contract
price of P5,000,000. It cannot be said therefore that respondent
notary demanded more than a reasonable recompense for his service.
also convinced that the two contracting parties implicitly agreed on
the cost of Jimenez’s notarial service. It was Cueto’s
responsibility to first inquire how much he was going to be charged for
notarization. And once informed, he was free to accept or reject it, or
negotiate for a lower amount. In this case, complainant’s concern that
the other party to the construction agreement was the son of respondent
notary and that his non-availment of respondent’s service might
jeopardize the agreement, was purely speculative. There was no
compulsion to avail of respondent’s service. Moreover, his failure to
negotiate the amount of the fee was an implicit acquiescence to the
terms of the notarial service. His subsequent act of paying in cash and
in check all the more proved it.
we agree with the IBP that respondent’s conduct in filing a criminal
case for violation of BP 22 against complainant (when the check
representing the P20,000 balance was dishonored for insufficient funds)
was highly improper.
20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that
“[a] lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his
compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent
imposition, injustice or fraud.” Likewise, in Canon 14 of the
Canons of Professional Ethics it states that, “[c]ontroversies with
clients concerning compensation are to be avoided by the lawyer so far
as shall be compatible with his self-respect and with his right to
receive reasonable recompense for his service; and lawsuits with the
clients should be resorted to only to prevent injustice, imposition or
was clearly no imposition, injustice or fraud obtaining in this case to
justify the legal action taken by respondent. As borne out by the
records, complainant Cueto had already paid more than half of
respondent’s fee. To resort to a suit to recover the balance reveals a
certain kind of shameful conduct and inconsiderate behavior that
clearly undermines the tenet embodied in Canon 15 that “[A] lawyer
should observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and
transactions with his client.” And what can we say about the failure of
respondent’s son Jose III to pay his own obligation to complainant
Cueto? It in all probability explains why Cueto ran short of funds.
Respondent therefore should have been more tolerant of the delay
incurred by complainant Cueto.
cannot overstress the duty of a lawyer to uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession. He can do this by faithfully
performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his
clients. He should always remind himself that the legal profession is
imbued with public service. Remuneration is a mere incident.
we acknowledge that every lawyer must be paid what is due to him, he
must never resort to judicial action to recover his fees, in a manner
that detracts from the dignity of the profession.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Jose Jimenez, Jr.
is hereby SEVERELY REPRIMANDED
for violating Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio-Morales, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Records, pp. 1-3.
Id. at 9-15.
Id. at 4.
Id. at 5.
Id. at 7.
Id. at 18-20.
Id. at 17.
Commissioner Dennis B. Funa.
Reyes v. Javier, 426 Phil. 243 (2002).