Bill penalizing unauthorized practice of law filed

Published October 24, 2020, 12:03 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Saying that the legal profession is one of the “most commonly faked profession” in the country, lawmakers have batted for the passage of a bill seeking to prohibit and penalize the unauthorized practice of law. 

Bukidnon  Rep. Jonathan Keith Flores, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, and DUMPER PTDA partylist Rep. Claudine Diana Bautista have filed House Bill No. 7750 seeking to slap hefty penalties against unauthorized practice of law.

“This practice no doubt erodes the nobility of the legal profession. It undermines the administration of proper justice. Worse and most importantly, it makes the law as a tool by which to deceive and defraud the court and the public,” they said in filing HB No. 7750.

“Regrettably, the punishment for unauthorized practice of law does not afford deterrence for would-be transgressors,” they lamented. 

They explained that a person practicing law without authority is liable for indirect contempt under Section 3(e) Rule 71 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that a person assuming to be an attorney or an officer of the court, and acting as such without authority, is liable for indirect contempt of court. 

“Under Section 7 of the same rules, a respondent adjudged guilty of indirect contempt committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank “may be punished by a fine not exceeding P30,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both,” they said. 

If a respondent is adjudged guilty of contempt committed against a lower court, he may be punished by a fine not exceeding P5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one month, or both, they said, citing the Rules of Civil Procedure. 

“This is not enough. The Rules of Court is not comprehensive enough,” the lawmakers stressed. 

They noted that HB 7750 comprehensively enumerates instances of unauthorized practice of law and other related acts and provides for a fitting and substantial punishment for any violations. 

“With the passage of this bill, it is hoped that the instances of fraud, misrepresentation, and deceit in the name of the legal profession will be significantly be abated,” they said. 

HB 7750 provides that any person found guilty of the unauthorized practice of law shall be punished by imprisonment of prision correccional medium to prision correccional maximum or a fine of P100,000, or both, upon the discretion of the court. 

Under the measure, a person shall be considered to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law if such person, not being a member of the Philippine Bar, does any of the following acts: 

– Represent himself, or holds himself out to be, a member of the Philippine Bar, whether for profit or not, to any other person.

– Except only in the instances where the law or the Rules of Court allow a non-lawyer to appear in court, appears in, or filed any pleading, motion, entry of appearance, or any other paper, with any court, tribunal, or quasi-judicial body, or any agency or instrumentality of the government, thereby representing himself to be a member of the Philippine Bar.

– By means of signs, cards, advertisements, written or printed matter, through the radio, television, or any other means of publication, advertise or represent himself to be a member of the Philippine Bar, including, but not limited to, using the prefix “Attorney” or “Atty.” before his name, including his name as a partner, associate, or list of lawyers of a law firm, or otherwise publicizing or advertising himself in any other manner to be a member of the Philippine Bar.