The power to dismiss a complaint against a lawyer rests solely with the Supreme Court (SC) and cannot be delegated to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
The ruling came after the highest court of the land approved amendments to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court dealing with Disbarment and Discipline of Lawyers in Bar Matter No. 1645 on October 13, 2015.
The SC also ordered the IBP to revise its rules of procedure in accordance with the amendments to Rule 139-B.
Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 5(5) of the 1987 Constitution that confers upon the High Court the power to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law, the amendments were specifically on Sections 1 (How Instituted), 5 (Service or Dismissal), 12 (Review and Recommendation by the Board of Governors), 13 (Investigation of Complaints) and 15 (Suspension of Attorney by the Supreme Court) of Rule 139-B.
The amendments also include the clarification that the SC’s power to dismiss complaints against lawyers cannot be delegated to the IBP.
Prior to the ruling, any complaint may be dismissed by the IBP-Board of Governors (IBP-BOG) upon the recommendation of the investigator.
Section 5 of Bar Matter No. 1645 now only grants the IBP recommendatory powers, “[i]f the complaint does not merit action, or if the answer shows to the satisfaction of the investigator that the complaint is not meritorious, the investigator will recommend to the Board of Governors the dismissal of the complaint.”
The amendments also include the procedure that the IBP-BOG shall take if they recommend to the SC the dismissal of the complaint or the imposition of disciplinary action against the respondent-lawyer.
The amendments will take effect fifteen days after their publication in a newspaper of general circulation.