• Collection suit for unpaid fee can be filed in court

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am a practicing professional and I want to know how I can collect my professional fee from the relatives of my client, who is a child. They kept on promising me that they will pay my professional fee. It’s been almost nine months and they have been ignoring the calls of my secretary. Is there a way that a case can be filed against them? Salamat po and more power.
    Doc

    Dear Doc,
    You may file an action for collection of sum of money against your or his concerned relatives, who owe you money in relation to the rendition of your professional service. The continuous refusal of the relatives of your client to settle his/her obligation to you gives you the right to seek redress from the courts in order to collect what is due you. However, it would be more prudent on your part to first make a formal written demand on the guardian or relatives of your patient for the payment of your professional fee. If this remains unheeded, you may then file a collection suit before the courts.

    Under the law, obligations arise from law, contracts, quasi-contracts, acts or omissions punished by law and quasi-delict (Article 1157, Civil Code of the Philippines [CCP]). Your client’s obligation to pay your professional fee arose from contract. Contract is defined under the law as “a meeting of the minds between two persons whereby one binds himself, with respect to the other, to give something or to render some service” (Article 1305, CCP). It is not necessary that the agreement be reduced into writing, save in the instances required by law, to be enforceable.

    Furthermore, Article 1170 of the abovementioned law likewise provides that “(t)hose who in the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence, or delay, and those who in any manner contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages.” Therefore, if any of these circumstances is present in the performance of the obligation, you may also claim for damages in addition to claiming for the sum the patient actually owed you. You are also hereby advised to get a private lawyer of your own choice to do the necessary action to protect your rights and interest.

    Finally, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we have fully addressed your query regarding this matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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