Cases about Court Jurisdiction part 2

Hilario vs. Salvador (GR 160384)

The jurisdiction of the court over an action involving title to or possession of land is now determined by the assessed value of the said property and not the market value thereof. The assessed value of real property is the fair market value of the real property multiplied by the assessment level. It is synonymous to taxable value. The fair market value is the price at which a property may be sold by a seller, who is not compelled to sell, and bought by a buyer, who is not compelled to buy.

Heirs of Sps Teofilo and Elisa Reterta vs. Sps. Lorenzo More and Virginia Lopez (GR 159941)

The original and exclusive jurisdiction over a complaint for quieting of title and reconveyance involving friar land belongs to either the Regional Trial Court (RTC) or the Municipal Trial Court (MTC). Hence, the dismissal of such a complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction due to the land in litis being friar land under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Land Management Bureau (LMB) amounts to manifest grave abuse of discretion that can be corrected through certiorari.

Radio communications of the Phils. vs CA (GR 136109)

It is settled that a breach of contract is a cause of action either for specific performance or rescission of contracts. In Manufacturers Distributors, Inc. v. Siu Liong, the Court held that actions for specific performance are incapable of pecuniary estimation and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court. Here, the averments in the complaint reveal that the suit filed by private respondent was primarily one for specific performance as it was aimed to enforce their three-year lease contract which would incidentally entitle him to monetary awards if the court should find that the subject contract of lease was breached. As alleged therein, petitioners failure to pay rentals due for the period from January to March 1997, constituted a violation of their contract which had the effect of accelerating the payment of monthly rentals for the years 1997 and 1998.

The same complaint likewise implied a premature and unilateral termination of the term of the lease with the closure of and removal all communication equipment in the leased premises. Under the circumstances, the court has to scrutinize the facts and the applicable laws in order to determine whether there was indeed a violation of their lease agreement that would justify the award of rentals and damages. The prayer, therefore, for the payment of unpaid rentals in the amount of P84,000.00 plus damages consequent to the breach is merely incidental to the main action for specific performance.

Mendoza vs. Teh (GR 122646)

An action for reconveyance, which involves title title to property worth millions of pesos, such as the lots subject of this case, is cognizable by the RTC. Likewise falling within its jurisdiction are actions incapable of pecuniary estimation, such as the appointment of an administratrix for an estate. Even the Rules on venue of estate proceedings (Section 1 of Rule 73) impliedly recognizes the jurisdiction of the RTC over petitions for granting of letters of administration.

On the other hand, probate proceedings for the settlement of estate are within the ambit of either the RTC or MTC depending on the net worth of the estate. By arguing that the allegation seeking such appointment as administratrix ousted the RTC of its jurisdiction, both public and private respondents confuses jurisdiction with venue. Section 2 of Rule 4 as revised by Circular 13-95 provides that actions involving title to property shall be tried in the province where the property is located, in this case, – Batangas. The mere fact that petitioners deceased husband resides in Quezon City at the time of his death affects only the venue but not the jurisdiction of the Court.

Irene Sante and Reynaldo Sante vs. Hon. Judge Clavarall GR 173915)

In the instant case, the complaint filed in Civil Case No. 5794-R is for the recovery of damages for the alleged malicious acts of petitioners. The complaint principally sought an award of moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorneys fees and litigation expenses, for the alleged shame and injury suffered by respondent by reason of petitioners utterance while they were at a police station in Pangasinan. It is settled that jurisdiction is conferred by law based on the facts alleged in the complaint since the latter comprises a concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiffs causes of action. It is clear, based on the allegations of the complaint, that respondents main action is for damages. Hence, the other forms of damages being claimed by respondent, e.g., exemplary damages, attorneys fees and litigation expenses, are not merely incidental to or consequences of the main action but constitute the primary relief prayed for in the complaint.

In Mendoza v. Soriano, it was held that in cases where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of the causes of action, the amount of such claim shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of the court. In the said case, the respondents claim of P929,000.06 in damages and P25,000 attorneys fees plus P500 per court appearance was held to represent the monetary equivalent for compensation of the alleged injury. The Court therein held that the total amount of monetary claims including the claims for damages was the basis to determine the jurisdictional amount.

Office of the Ombudsman vs. Rodriguez (GR 172700)

The facts in the present case are analogous to those in Laxina, Sr. v. Ombudsman, which likewise involved identical administrative complaints filed in both the Ombudsman and the sangguniang panlungsod against a punong barangay for grave misconduct. The Court held therein that the rule against forum shopping applied only to judicial cases or proceedings, not to administrative cases. Thus, even if complainants filed in the Ombudsman and the sangguniang bayan identical complaints against private respondent, they did not violate the rule against forum shopping because their complaint was in the nature of an administrative case.

In administrative cases involving the concurrent jurisdiction of two or more disciplining authorities, the body in which the complaint is filed first, and which opts to take cognizance of the case, acquires jurisdiction to the exclusion of other tribunals exercising concurrent jurisdiction. In this case, since the complaint was filed first in the Ombudsman, and the Ombudsman opted to assume jurisdiction over the complaint, the Ombudsmans exercise of jurisdiction is to the exclusion of the sangguniang bayan exercising concurrent jurisdiction.

It is a hornbook rule that jurisdiction is a matter of law. Jurisdiction, once acquired, is not lost upon the instance of the parties but continues until the case is terminated. When herein complainants first filed the complaint in the Ombudsman, jurisdiction was already vested on the latter. Jurisdiction could no longer be transferred to the sangguniang bayan by virtue of a subsequent complaint filed by the same complainants.

Union Bank of the Phils. vs. PP (GR 192565)

The case presents to us the issue of what the proper venue of perjury under Article 183 of the RPC should be Makati City, where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the trial court.

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We hold that our ruling in Sy Tiong is more in accord with Article 183 of the RPC and Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. To reiterate for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench, the crime of perjury committed through the making of a false affidavit under Article 183 of the RPC is committed at the time the affiant subscribes and swears to his or her affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of perjury are executed. When the crime is committed through false testimony under oath in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, venue is at the place where the testimony under oath is given.

If in lieu of or as supplement to the actual testimony made in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, a written sworn statement is submitted, venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is submitted or where the oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the submission are both material ingredients of the crime committed. In all cases, determination of venue shall be based on the acts alleged in the Information to be constitutive of the crime committed.

Organo vs. Sandiganbayan (GR 136916)

Does the Respondent Court, the Honorable Sandiganbayan, have jurisdiction over a case of plunder when none of the accused occupy Salary Grade 27 or higher as provided under Republic Act No. 6758 ?

The Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over petitioners mother and the other accused in Criminal Case No. 24100 has been resolved by the Supreme Court in Lilia B. Organo v. Sandiganbayan. In that case, we ruled that the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the crime of plunder unless committed by public officials and employees occupying the positions with Salary Grade 27 or higher, under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758) in relation to their office.The Court explained that the crime of plunder defined in Republic Act No. 7080, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, was provisionally placed within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan until otherwise provided by law. Republic Act No. 8249, enacted on February 5, 1997, is the special law that provided for the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan otherwise than that prescribed in Republic Act No. 7080.

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The apparent intendment of these amendments is to ease the dockets of the Sandiganbayan and to allow the Anti-Graft Court to focus its efforts on the trial of those occupying higher positions in government, the proverbial big fish. Section 4, as amended, freed the Sandiganbayan from the task of trying cases involving lower-raking government officials, imposing such duty upon the regular courts instead. The present structure is also intended to benefit these officials of lower rank, especially those residing outside Metro Manila, charged with crimes related to their office, who can ill-afford the expenses of a trial in Metro Manila.

Ronilo Sorreda vs. Cambridge Electronics corp (GR172927)

This case rests on the issue of whether the labor arbiter had the jurisdiction.

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A labor arbiter may only take cognizance of a case and award damages where the claim for such damages arises out of an employer-employee relationship.

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While there was an employer-employee relationship between the parties under their five-month per-project contract of employment, the present dispute is neither rooted in the aforestated contract nor is it one inherently linked to it. Petitioner insists on a right to be employed again in respondent company and seeks a determination of the existence of a new and separate contract that established that right. As such, his case is within the jurisdiction not of the labor arbiter but of the regular courts. The NLRC and the CA were therefore correct in ruling that the labor arbiter erroneously took cognizance of the case.

Miranda vs. Tuliao (GR 158763)

Our pronouncement in Santiago shows a distinction between custody of the law and jurisdiction over the person. Custody of the law is required before the court can act upon the application for bail, but is not required for the adjudication of other reliefs sought by the defendant where the mere application therefor constitutes a waiver of the defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused.  Custody of the law is accomplished either by arrest or voluntary surrender, while jurisdiction over the person of the accused is acquired upon his arrest or voluntary appearance. One can be under the custody of the law but not yet subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, such as when a person arrested by virtue of a warrant files a motion before arraignment to quash the warrant. On the other hand, one can be subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, and yet not be in the custody of the law, such as when an accused escapes custody after his trial has commenced.  Being in the custody of the law signifies restraint on the person, who is thereby deprived of his own will and liberty, binding him to become obedient to the will of the law. Custody of the law is literally custody over the body of the accused. It includes, but is not limited to, detention.

 

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