January 2014 Philippine Supreme Court Rulings on Remedial Law

Here are select January 2014 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Action to annul judgment or final order; jurisdiction. In 1981, the Legislature enacted Batas Pambansa Blg.129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980). Among several innovations of this legislative enactment was the formal establishment of the annulment of a judgment or final order as an action independent from the generic classification of litigations in which the subject matter was not capable of pecuniary estimation, and expressly vested the exclusive original jurisdiction over such action in the CA. The action in which the subject of the litigation was incapable of pecuniary estimation continued to be under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC, which replaced the CFI as the court of general jurisdiction. Since then, the RTC no longer had jurisdiction over an action to annul the judgment of the RTC, eliminating all concerns about judicial stability. To implement this change, the Court introduced a new  procedure to govern the action to annul the judgment of the RTC in the 1997 revision of the Rules of Court under Rule 47, directing in Section 2 thereof that “[t]he annulment may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.” Pinausukan Seafood House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now Bank of the Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

Action to annul judgment or final order; lack of jurisdiction; types. Lack of jurisdiction on the part of the trial court in rendering the judgment or final order is either lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action, or lack of jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner. The former is a matter of substantive law because statutory law defines the jurisdiction of the courts over the subject matter or nature of the action. The latter is a matter of procedural law, for it involves the service of summons or other process on the petitioner. A judgment or final order issued by the trial court without jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action is always void, and, in the words of Justice Street in Banco Español-Filipino v. Palanca (37 Phil 949 [1918]), “in this sense it may be said to be a lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits its head.” But the defect of lack of jurisdiction over the person, being a matter of procedural law, may be waived by the party concerned either expressly or impliedly. Pinausukan Seafood House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now Bank of the Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

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February 2013 Philippines Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are select February 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Actions; cause of action; elements; failure to state a cause of action is ground for dismissal. A complaint states a cause of action if it avers the existence of the three essential elements of a cause of action, namely:

(a)         The legal right of the plaintiff;

(b)         The correlative obligation of the defendant and

(c)         The act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right.

If the allegations in the complaint do not aver the concurrence of these elements, the complaint becomes vulnerable to a motion to dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of. A perusal of the Amended Complaint in the present case would show that there is, indeed, no allegation of any act or omission on the part of respondents which supposedly violated the legal rights of petitioners. Thus, the CA is correct in dismissing the complaint on the ground of failure to state a cause of action. Padilla Mercado, Zulueta Mercado, et al. v. Spouses Aguedo Espina and Lourdes Espina; G.R. No. 173987. February 25, 2013

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January 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are select January 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Annulment of Judgment; exception to final judgment rule; lack of due process as additional ground. A petition for Annulment of Judgment under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court is a remedy granted only under exceptional circumstances where a party, without fault on his part, has failed to avail of the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies. Said rule explicitly provides that it is not available as a substitute for a remedy which was lost due to the party’s own neglect in promptly availing of the same. “The underlying reason is traceable to the notion that annulling final judgments goes against the grain of finality of judgment, litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an affective administration of justice that once a judgment has become final, the issue or cause involved therein should be laid to rest.”

While under Section 2, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court a Petition for Annulment of Judgment may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, jurisprudence recognizes lack of due process as additional ground to annul a judgment. In Arcelona v. Court of Appeals, this Court declared that a final and executory judgment may still be set aside if, upon mere inspection thereof, its patent nullity can be shown for having been issued without jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law. Leticia Diona, represented by her Attorney-in-fact, Marcelina Diona v. Romeo Balangue, Sonny Balangue, Reynaldo Balangue, and Esteban Balangue, Jr.; G.R. No. 173559. January 7, 2013

Appeal; filing of motion for extension of time to file motion for reconsideration in CA does not toll fifteen-day period to appeal; rule suspended in exceptional cases to serve substantial justice. The assailed CA resolution upheld the general rule that the filing of a motion for reconsideration in the CA does not toll the fifteen-day period to appeal, citing Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japson. However, in previous cases we suspended this rule in order to serve substantial justice.

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March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected March 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

CIVIL PROCEDURE 

Contempt; contempt proceedings distinguished from suspension proceedings.  Contempt and suspension proceedings are supposed to be separate and distinct.  They have different objects and purposes for which different procedures have been established.  Judge Blancaflor should have conducted separate proceedings.  As held in the case of People v. Godoy, thus:

 A contempt proceeding for misbehavior in court is designed to vindicate the authority of the court; on the other hand, the object of a disciplinary proceeding is to deal with the fitness of the court’s officer to continue in that office, to preserve and protect the court and the public from the official ministrations of persons unfit or unworthy to hold such office.  The principal purpose of the exercise of the power to cite for contempt is to safeguard the functions of the court and should thus be used sparingly on a preservative and not, on the vindictive principle.  The principal purpose of the exercise of disciplinary authority by the Supreme Court is to assure respect for orders of such court by attorneys who, as much as judges, are responsible for the orderly administration of justice.

x x x.  It has likewise been the rule that a notice to a lawyer to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt cannot be considered as a notice to show cause why he should not be suspended from the practice of law, considering that they have distinct objects and for each of them a different procedure is established. Contempt of court is governed by the procedures laid down under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, whereas disciplinary actions in the practice of law are governed by Rules 138 and 139 thereof.

Thus, it was grossly improper for Judge Blancaflor to consider his July 30, 2009 Order on the contempt charge as the notice required in the disciplinary proceedings suspending petitioners from the practice of law.  Alen Ross Rodriguez and Regidor Tulali vs. The Hon. Bienvenido Blancaflor, etc. and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 190171, March 14, 2011.

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November 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected November 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Appeal; argument raised for first time on appeal. As a last ditch effort, petitioner asserts that the property is a road right of way; thus, it cannot be subject of a writ of execution.  The argument must be rejected because it was raised for the first time in this petition.  In the trial court and the CA, petitioner’s arguments zeroed in on the alleged conjugal nature of the property.  It is well settled that issues raised for the first time on appeal and not raised in the proceedings in the lower court are barred by estoppel. Points of law, theories, issues, and arguments not brought to the attention of the trial court ought not to be considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.  To consider the alleged facts and arguments raised belatedly would amount to trampling on the basic principles of fair play, justice, and due process.  Evangeline D. Imani vs. Metroplitan Bank and Trust Company, G.R. No. 187023, November 17, 2010.

Appeal; argument raised for first time on appeal. The petitioners now claim that the Motion for Reconsideration, filed by the respondent on May 18, 1993 from the September 18, 1992 Order of the RTC, was filed out of time.  The petitioners make this claim to justify their contention that the subsequent rulings of the RTC, including the June 2, 1993 and October 1, 1993 Orders, are barred by res judicata.

We reject this belated claim as the petitioners raised this only for the first time on appeal, particularly, in their Memorandum.  In fact, the petitioners never raised this issue in the proceedings before the court a quo or in the present petition for review.

As a rule, a party who deliberately adopts a certain theory upon which the case is tried and decided by the lower court will not be permitted to change the theory on appeal.  Points of law, theories, issues and arguments not brought to the attention of the lower court need not be, and ordinarily will not be, considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time at such late stage. It would be unfair to the adverse party who would have no opportunity to present further evidence material to the new theory, which it could have done had it been aware of it at the time of the hearing before the trial court.  Thus, to permit the petitioners in this case to change their theory on appeal would thus be unfair to the respondent and offend the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process.  Spouses Ernesto and Vicenta Topacio vs. Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank, G.R. No. 157644, November 17, 2010.

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October 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law (Part III)

Counterclaims; tests to determine if compulsory.  Going now to the first assigned error, petitioner submits that its counterclaim for the rentals collected by Fernando from the CMTC is in the nature of a compulsory counterclaim in the original action of Fernando against petitioner for annulment of bid award, deed of absolute sale and TCT No. 76183. Respondents, on the other hand, alleged that petitioner’s counterclaim is permissive and its failure to pay the prescribed docket fees results into the dismissal of its claim.

To determine whether a counterclaim is compulsory or not, the Court has devised the following tests: (a) Are the issues of fact and law raised by the claim and by the counterclaim largely the same? (b) Would res judicata bar a subsequent suit on defendant’s claims, absent the compulsory counterclaim rule? (c) Will substantially the same evidence support or refute plaintiff’s claim as well as the defendant’s counterclaim? and (d) Is there any logical relation between the claim and the counterclaim? A positive answer to all four questions would indicate that the counterclaim is compulsory.

Tested against the above-mentioned criteria, this Court agrees with the CA’s view that petitioner’s counterclaim for the recovery of the amount representing rentals collected by Fernando from the CMTC is permissive. The evidence needed by Fernando to cause the annulment of the bid award, deed of absolute sale and TCT is different from that required to establish petitioner’s claim for the recovery of rentals.  The issue in the main action, i.e., the nullity or validity of the bid award, deed of absolute sale and TCT in favor of CMTC, is entirely different from the issue in the counterclaim, i.e., whether petitioner is entitled to receive the CMTC’s rent payments over the subject property when petitioner became the owner of the subject property by virtue of the consolidation of ownership of the property in its favor.  Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) vs. Heirs of Fernando P. Caballero, et al., G.R. No. 158090, October 4, 2010

Docket fees; GSIS not exempt from payment.  Petitioner [GSIS] further argues that assuming that its counterclaim is permissive, the trial court has jurisdiction to try and decide the same, considering petitioner’s exemption from all kinds of fees.

In In Re: Petition for Recognition of the Exemption of the Government Service Insurance System from Payment of Legal Fees, the Court ruled that the provision in the Charter of the GSIS, i.e., Section 39 of Republic Act No. 8291, which exempts it from “all taxes, assessments, fees, charges or duties of all kinds,” cannot operate to exempt it from the payment of legal fees. This was because, unlike the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, which empowered Congress to repeal, alter or supplement the rules of the Supreme Court concerning pleading, practice and procedure, the 1987 Constitution removed this power from Congress.  Hence, the Supreme Court now has the sole authority to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts.

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October 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law (Part II)

Certiorari; improper remedy.  A party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment, final order, or resolution of the CA, as in this case, may file before this Court a verified petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure within 15 days from notice of the judgment, final order, or resolution appealed from. Petitioners, instead of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, filed with this Court the instant petition for certiorari under Rule 65, an improper remedy. By availing of a wrong or inappropriate mode of appeal, the petition merits outright dismissal.  Esmeraldo C. Romullo, et al. v.. Samahang Magkakapitbahay ng Bayanihan Compound Homeowners Association, Inc. represented by its President, Paquito Quitalig, G.R. No. 180687, October 6, 2010

Certiorari; not available to set aside denial of motion to dismiss in absence of grave abuse of discretion.  An order denying a motion to dismiss is an interlocutory order which neither terminates nor finally disposes of a case as it leaves something to be done by the court before the case is finally decided on the merits. As such, the general rule is that the denial of a motion to dismiss cannot be questioned in a special civil action for certiorari which is a remedy designed to correct errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment. To justify the grant of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, the denial of the motion to dismiss must have been tainted with grave abuse of discretion. By “grave abuse of discretion” is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment that is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act all in contemplation of law. In the instant case, Global did not properly substantiate its claim of arbitrariness on the part of the trial court judge that issued the assailed orders denying the motion to dismiss. In a petition for certiorari, absent such showing of arbitrariness, capriciousness, or ill motive in the disposition of the trial judge in the case, we are constrained to uphold the court’s ruling, especially because its decision was upheld by the CA.  Global Business Holdings, Inc. vs. Surecomp Software B.V., [G.R. No. 173463. October 13, 2010]

Certiorari; period to file.  The petition before the CA was filed out of time. A perusal of the allegations in the subject petition reveals that though it sought the nullification of the February 2, 2004 Decision of the RTC, what it questioned was the RTC’s resolve to render a judgment before trial pursuant to Section 4, Rule 4 of the Interim Rules of Procedure for Intra-Corporate Controversies.  Said section provides,

Sec. 4. Judgment before pre-trial. – If, after submission of the pre-trial briefs, the court determines that, upon consideration of the pleadings, the affidavits and other evidence submitted by the parties, a judgment may be rendered, the court may order the parties to file simultaneously their respective memoranda within a non-extendible period of twenty (20) days from receipt of the order. Thereafter, the court shall render judgment, either full or otherwise, not later than ninety (90) days from the expiration of the period to file the memoranda.

As correctly pointed out by the Farmix Group, it is very clear that the issues raised in the subject petition pertained to previous orders of the RTC – the November 12 and December 3, 2003 Orders – submitting the case for decision.

The November 12, 2003 Order was received by WINCORP on November 13, 2003. It then filed a Manifestation and Motion adopting the UOB Group’s motion for reconsideration of said order and even raised additional arguments. Thereafter, the RTC issued the December 3, 2003 Order denying UOB Group’s motion for reconsideration but there was no mention of WINCORP’s manifestation and motion.

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