Why SC wants to prohibit lawyers from dating clients

January 19, 2023 - 8:23 PM
Photo shows the facade of the Supreme Court and a couple holding hands (Philstar.com/ Erwin Cagadas; Pexels via Pixabay; Artwork by Interaksyon/James Patrick Cruz)

The Supreme Court suggested a code prohibiting lawyers from dating or having romantic or sexual relations with their clients. 

These types of relationships are only allowed if they started prior to the professional lawyer-client relationship. 

Section 15 of the proposed amended Code of Professional Responsibility reads:

“A lawyer shall not have dating, romantic, or sexual relations with a client during the engagement unless the consensual relationship existed between them before the lawyer-client relationship commenced.”

Given this provision, Associate Justice Maria Filomena Singh highlighted the importance of defining the relationship between a lawyer and a client. 

“We want to be very clear that the lawyer-client relationship can clearly define what are your duties and what are your responsibilities. We don’t want any dating or romantic factor to blur these lines because trust and confidence is very, very important,” Singh told ANC on Monday, January 16. 

Singh also said that they have “encountered enough cases—administrative cases involving such situations.”

In 2019, the government’s official news agency reported that a lawyer who had a romantic relationship with a client while he was still married and later failed to support his child from the illicit affair has been ordered disbarred by the Supreme Court. 

The justice also noted that this proposal will protect both the lawyer and client from possible abuse. 

This proposal is part of the project to amend the Code of Professional Responsibility, which was promulgated in 1988. This code stipulates the rules and regulations on the conduct of Filipino lawyers.