legal knowledge base

Popular Posts

Jul 21, 2008

G.R. No. 138231, Feb. 21, 2002

  • Doctrine of adherence to judicial precedents (stare decisis)


RP filed with the Sandiganbayan a complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages against several persons, one of which is Gregorio Castillo. The latter was accused of having acted as dummy, nominee and/or agent of the Marcoses, et al. in establishing Hotel Properties, Inc., in order to acquire beneficial interest and control, and conceal ownership, of Silahis International Hotel.

Castillo later died, therefore, a motion to dismiss was subsequently filed on the ground that the action did not survive the death of petitioner. Sandiganbayan denied the motion, stating that the case is not only one for recovery of money, debt or interest thereon, but one for recovery of real and personal property and that the cause of action being inclusive of claim for damages for tortuous misconduct.

In another motion to dismiss, petitioner contended that the complaint filed against Castillo is violative of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege (since Castillo is attorney-in-fact). But Sandiganbayan ruled that Castillo is sued as principal defendant for being in conspiracy with other defendants in the commission of the acts complained of.

Hence this petition.


  • Whether or not Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion
  • Whether or not the suit is violative of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege


The suit is violative of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege and must be dismissed pursuant to the Court’s decision in Regala vs. Sandiganbayan.


The ruling in Regala does not apply because in said case, there was a clear finding that the ACCRA lawyers were impleaded by the PCGG as co-defendants to force them to disclose the identity of their clients as shown by the PCGG’s willingness to cut a deal with the ACCRA lawyers – the names of their clients in exchange for exclusion from the complaint. In the present case, petitioner is being sued as principal defendant for being in conspiracy with the other defendants in the commission of the act complained of, and he is not being required to name his clients.

The claim that petitioner merely acted in his professional capacity as counsel with neither participation in nor knowledge is a mere allegation not yet proven.


SC found for the petitioner.

The Court adopted its own ruling in the Regala case, viz: “an argument is advanced that the invocation by petitioner of the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality at this state of the proceedings is premature and that they should wait until they are called to testify and examine as witnesses as to matters learned in confidence before they can raise their objection. But petitioners are not mere witnesses. They are co-principals in the case for recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth. They have made their position clear from the very beginning that they are not willing to testify and they cannot be compelled to testify in view of their constitutional right against self-incrimination and of their fundamental legal right to maintain inviolate the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality.”

The doctrine of adherence to judicial precedents or stare decisis, provided in Art. 8, C.C., enjoins adherence to judicial precedents. It required courts in a country to follow the rule established in a decision of the Supreme Court thereof. That decision becomes a judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all courts in the land. The doctrine of stare decisis is based on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.

“WHEREFORE, the Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan dated November 24, 1998 and February 18, 1999 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Sandiganbayan is further ordered to exclude petitioner Gregorio R. Castillo as party-defendant in SB Civil Case NO. 0014 entitled Republic of the Philippines vs. Modesto Enriquez, et al.



Copyright © Scire Licet | Powered by Blogger
Design by Duan Zhiyan | Blogger Theme by