Requesting Entity: Commission on Audit (COA) - Cordillera Administrative Region
Issues Concern: Legal Assistance and Indemnification of Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Members
Whether a private lawyer can bill the members of the BAC and the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE) individually, based on Sections 72 and 73 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 9184.
[T]he Guidelines for Legal Assistance and Indemnification of BAC Members and its Support Staff (Guidelines) x xx do not specify the terms of engagement of a private counsel.
x xx BAC members may engage the services of a private lawyer individually. It also provides that claimant(s) should file their respective claim(s) for legal assistance, which implies that reimbursements will be made to the BAC members individually. Thus, it is not necessary that the BAC members engage private legal service as a group since the option is clearly left to the discretion of the members.
On the other hand, the manner of billing by the private counsel is dependent on the arrangement with the clients, and is not controlled by the provisions of the Guidelines. It is common practice for private lawyers to charge their clients individually, although his services have been retained for the group. Thus, it is possible that although the lawyer represents the BAC as a group, separate agreements were made with each BAC member for the lawyer's engagement.
[T]he propriety of individually billing the BAC members and the HOPE is dependent on their agreement to this effect. Corollary to this, we find it necessary to point out that Sections 72 and 73 of the IRR and the Guidelines cover legal assistance and indemnification of public officials providing services in and for the BAC.