Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence

Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1926 > February 1926 Decisions > G.R. No. 24510 February 13, 1926 - J. A. WOLFSON v. WM. H. ANDERSON

048 Phil 672:



[G.R. No. 24510. February 13, 1926. ]

J. A. WOLFSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. WM. H. ANDERSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Fisher, DeWitt, Perkins & Brady, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Paredes, Buencamino & Yulo, for Defendant-Appellant.


1. WHEN ATTORNEY IS ENTITLED TO A REASONABLE COMPENSATION FOR HIS SERVICES. — Where in the absence of a specific contract, and at the special instance and request of his client, an attorney honestly and in good faith seeks to serve and protect the interest of his client, he is entitled to a reasonable compensation for his services, regardless of an error or mistake of judgment, and in such a case, his compensation should be measured by the actual value of the services rendered.


In his first cause of action, plaintiff seeks to recover from the defendant P15,000 for and on account of legal services alleged to have been performed by himself and his firm in an effort to recover from the Collector of Internal Revenue back income taxes, which the defendant was required to pay, amounting to P114,758.93, plus the penalty of 100 per cent, which later, through the efforts of the plaintiff and his firm, was reduced to P84,550.55, which was the total amount of all back income taxes in question, and all of the penalties levied thereon. This latter amount was then paid under protest.

As a second cause of action, it is alleged that after such payments were made under protest, the defendant engaged the plaintiff to obtaining a refund of the penalties, amounting to P42,542.13, with the understanding and agreement that plaintiff’s fee for such services would be 60 per centum of any amount refunded. Plaintiff contends that the obtaining of the refund was complicated, intricate and delicate, required much study and exhaustive research, the exercise of great care, and occupied much time. That on March 2, 1923, without notice to the plaintiff, defendant employed other attorneys to represent him in the matter, and dispensed with his services. That the value of the services rendered by him in connection with the obtaining of the refund of the 100 per cent penalties paid by the defendant accomplished the desired result, and is reasonably worth the agreed fee of 60 per centum of P42,452.13, or P25,525.28, while the services rendered by plaintiff in connection with the new and additional taxes and penalties referred to in the preceding paragraph are reasonably worth P2,000, making a total of P27,525.28, which the plaintiff seeks to recover in his second cause of action.

Plaintiff asks for a corresponding judgment, with legal interest on the P15,000 from January 6, 1921, and with like interest on the P27,525.28 from March 2, 1923, with costs and general relief.

For answer, the defendant made a specific denial of each and all of the material allegations alleged in the complaint.

The lower court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff on the first cause of action for P7,500, and for P1,000 on the second cause of action, with legal interest on both amounts, from which the plaintiff appeals, assigning the following

"The lower court erred in only allowing plaintiff P7,500 instead of P15,000 on the first cause of action, and P1,000 instead of P27,525.28 on the second cause of action, with interest from the filing of the complaint instead of from date of demand."cralaw virtua1aw library

And the defendant appeals, assigning the following

"I. The lower court erred in awarding plaintiff the sum of seven thousand five hundred pesos for the services alleged in the first cause of action.

"II. The lower court erred in not holding that the subsequent assessment of one hundred eleven thousand five hundred thirty-five pesos and seventy-two centavos, imposed on defendant in addition to the eighty-four thousand five hundred fifty pesos and fifty-five centavos, already paid, was due to acts of the plaintiff, and should be taken into consideration in determining the just value of plaintiff’s services.

"III. The lower court erred in holding plaintiff entitled to compensation for his unsuccessful efforts to obtain the refund of the penalties imposed on his client, and in awarding him one thousand pesos as compensation therefor.

"IV. The lower court erred in denying defendant’s motion for a new trial."



The only real question involved in the first cause of action is as to the amount which the plaintiff should receive for his services, the defendant contending that the assessment of P111,537.72, which was later imposed on him, in addition to the P84,550.55, which he had previously paid, was the direct result of the actions and conduct of the plain- tiff. In other words, after the original reduction was obtained, for which plaintiff claims compensation, by reason of the actions and conduct of the plaintiff and his hostile attitude and manner of doing business, the Collector of Internal Revenue made another assessment against the defendant, in which he required him to pay the further sum of P111,537.72. Upon that point, the trial court found as a fact that the plaintiff was not responsible for, and should not be charged with, the last assessment of P111,537.72.

It is elementary that an attorney is entitled to have and receive a just and reasonable compensation for services performed at the special instance and request of his client. That is true even though he may make mistakes in the discharge of his duties, unless such mistakes are the result of his own carelessness and negligence. That is to say, as long as the plaintiff was honestly and in good faith trying to serve and represent the interests of the client, he should have a reasonable compensation for his services. That was the theory of the trial court, and it was upon that basis that it allowed plaintiff P7,500 on his first cause of action.

All things considered, we are not disposed to disturb that finding.

As to the second cause of action, the record shows that the plaintiff did perform some service. That the defendant was not satisfied with the policies and methods which were pursued by the plaintiff, and, as a result thereof, defendant employed other attorneys, and in legal effect discharged the plaintiff.

For his alleged services, the lower court allowed the plaintiff P1,000 on the second cause of action.

All things considered, we are not disposed to disturb that finding. Much could be said about the facts of this case, but it would not serve any useful purpose.

We agree with the trial court. Judgment is affirmed. Neither party to recover costs. So ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Street, Malcolm, Villamor, Romualdez and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

Johnson, J., did not take part.

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