I had a lawyer in a case I filed against a bank that had foreclosed my property. I used to have a mini-grocery standing on a land that I inherited from my father. I mortgaged this land to a bank. When it was about to be foreclosed, I hired a lawyer to stop the bank from taking over my property. This lawyer, however, failed to timely oppose its sale and eventually the land was foreclosed. I was never informed by my lawyer of what happened. It took me two years to discover what happened. May I have the case reopened and have the judgment annuled because of extrinsic fraud?
The Supreme Court, speaking through Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, discussed “extrinsic fraud” in a case that may be applicable to your situation. The case of Pinausukan Seafood House v. FEBTC/BPI (G.R. No. 159926, 20 January 2014) described extrinsic fraud as:
“Extrinsic fraud, as a ground for the annulment of a judgment, must emanate from an act of the adverse party, and the fraud must be of such nature as to have deprived the petitioner of his day in court. The fraud is not extrinsic if the act was committed by the petitioner’s own counsel.”
In this case, the lawyer of the petitioners failed to inform them of the foreclosure of their property and that he also failed to submit affidavits necessary for their cause. The Supreme Court, however, did not look upon these neglects of the petitioners’ lawyer to be “extrinsic fraud,” that would allow the annulment of judgment against the petitioners.
In sum, the case stated:
“By its very nature, extrinsic fraud relates to a cause that is collateral in character, i.e., it relates to any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in litigation which is committed outside of the trial of the case, where the defeated party has been prevented from presenting fully his side of the cause, by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent. Even in the presence of fraud, annulment will not lie unless the fraud is committed by the adverse party, not by one’s own lawyer. In the latter case, the remedy of the client is to proceed against his own lawyer and not to re-litigate the case where judgment had been rendered.”
Consequently, since the act of your lawyer is not an act of fraud constituted by the other party, the same does not amount to a kind of an extrinsic fraud, which may be a ground to annul a judgment rendered against you. At most, you should deal with the neglect on the part of your lawyer through a different remedy.
Again, 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 were able to enlighten you on the matter.
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