On 11 April 2023, the Supreme Court (SC) approved the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (CPRA). The CPRA was officially launched on 13 April 2023 and published on newspapers of general circulation on 14 May 2023. It took effect on 29 May 2023, fifteen (15) days after its publication.

Section 12, Canon 2 of the CPRA mandates lawyers to “report any transaction or unlawful activity that is required to be reported under relevant laws, including covered and suspicious transactions under regulatory laws, such as those concerning anti-money laundering. When disclosing or reporting this information to the appropriate court, tribunal, or other government agency, the lawyer shall not be deemed to have violated the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality.” Additionally, Section 28, Canon 3 thereof underscores the lawyer's obligation to safeguard client confidences, except when required by law, such as anti-money laundering statutes or the Rules of Court.

The CPRA now emphasizes, more than ever, the responsibility of lawyers who provide covered services under Section 3 (a), [6] and [7] of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), as amended, to adhere to the said law as part of their obligations under the CPRA. This pertains to the three (3) primary obligations of: Customer Due Diligence, Record-Keeping, and Transaction Reporting; which includes the obligation to register with the AMLC. Registering with the AMLC enables covered individuals to electronically submit transaction reports.

In relation to the CPRA, the AMLA, as amended, also offers a "safe harbor" to covered individuals who fulfill their obligations under the law. Section 9 (c) of the AMLA specifies that when reporting covered and suspicious transactions to the AMLC, covered individuals, as well as its officers and employees, will not be considered to have breached RA No. 1405, as amended, RA No. 6426, as amended, RA No. 8791, and other relevant laws.

Posted: 27 July 2023

Back to Top