Inside Page | Fernan A. Gianan:

Unavoidable fees for legal services

The recent difficulty experienced by islanders who wanted their legal documents notarized is attributed to the Regional Trial Court’s strict implementation of the Notarial Law or Public Act No. 2103.

The change in the Court’s previously lax policy was occasioned by the recent influx of new lawyers, especially those who passed the “give-away” bar exams during the pandemic, it is claimed.

Executive Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada wanted to set things straight, especially with regards to the requirement under the Supreme Court’s 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice that a “certified copy of each month’s entries in the notarial register and a duplicate original copy of any instrument acknowledged before the notary public shall, within the first ten (10) days of the month following, be forwarded to the Clerk of Court…”

Many local lawyers, especially those who have been practicing for decades, were reportedly behind in their court submissions of the list of monthly entries and copies of the instruments.

Non-compliance with the requirement is a ground for revocation of the notary public’s notarial commission.

There is also the requirement that the notarial seals being used by local lawyers come from vendors or manufacturers duly authorized by the Executive Judge in their places of business.

As there are no such vendors or manufacturers in Catanduanes, the attorneys were forced to secure the seals in the mainland or in Metro Manila.

As a result, there was a time early this year that there were only two attorneys with notarial commissions on the island, one in Virac and the other in Pandan.

A frequent client said one had to choose between paying the Virac notary public P200 per page of the document or commuting to the northern town for a cheaper rate.

Now that the situation has somewhat normalized, with just two of them still undergoing the renewal of their notarial commissions, clients desiring to have their documents acknowledged before a notary public can choose from several notary publics with differing rates ranging from P50 for simple affidavits to as high as P1,000 for an SPA.

Now, a thousand pesos may seem exorbitant for a legal document that one could have an attorney-friend notarized for just P75 or a hundred.

But that is just exactly what the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has set as a minimum for the service.

For the enlightenment of everyone, excepting lawyers, the IBP’s minimum rates sets a minimum fee of P1,000 per hour plus an additional P500 per hour for plain consultation.

Consultation with written advice sets you back P2,500, the same cost as an attorney’s letter, while getting him or her on a retainer basis means P3,000 a month.

Here’s the minimum fees for documentation and notarial fees: Subscribing of Simple Affidavits, P200; Preparation and Subscribing of Simple Affidavits, P500; Authentication of Documents, P500; Preparation and Acknowledgment of SPA, P1,000; Preparation and/or Notarization of Deeds of Conveyances, P2,000 minimum or 3% of Fair Market Value or consideration, whichever is higher; and, Preparation of Judicial Affidavit, P2,500.

It is in acceptance fees in proceedings before the Office of the Prosecutor or the Courts that the lawyer will rake it in, especially if he has achieved a measure of success in actual practice.

The IBP sets P20,000 as the minimum fee during preliminary investigation representing the respondent, plus 50% of the acceptance fee if the case is dismissed.

In civil and criminal cases and Special Proceedings, the minimum acceptance fee could range from P50,000 to P100,000, depending on the court level.

One lawyer here reportedly charges between P200,000 to P300,000 as acceptance fee in illegal drugs cases at the RTC, most likely not including the back-and-forth air fare.

Getting embroiled in a legal dispute not only guarantees a permanent headache but also a seemingly endless drain of one’s financial resources.

Before filing a civil case, for example, one has to carefully look at the pros and cons if the benefit far outweighs the costs.

This is why going to the courts is not for those who have less in life, even if the government says they should have more in law.


THE LORD’S MIRACLE. An Irish priest is driving home from a night at his favorite bar. A police officer notices a car swerving all over the road and proceeds to pursue. The Irishman pulls over and the cop makes his way to the driver.

Checking the vehicle and noticing bottles all over the floorboard, the policeman asks, “Have you been drinking?”

“I don’t know what you’re on about, officer. I had just only left church after giving praise to the lord for his many blessings and miracles,” said the priest.

The policeman frowned, “Well then, what’s in the bottles?”

“Water”, the priest replied.

The policeman reached in and grabbing a bottle, opened the top and was quickly overcame with the smell. “This is wine!”

The priest then promptly shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD, HE’S DONE IT AGAIN!”

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