Rule – 111 Prosecution of civil Action

Casupanan vs. Laroya (GR: 145391)

Justice Carpio:

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Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, the independent civil action in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code is not deemed instituted with the criminal action but may be filed separately by the offended party even without reservation. The commencement of the criminal action does not suspend the prosecution of the independent civil action under these articles of the Civil Code. The suspension in Section 2 of the present Rule 111 refers only to the civil action arising from the crime, if such civil action is reserved or filed before the commencement of the criminal action.

Thus, the offended party can file two separate suits for the same act or omission. The first a criminal case where the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is deemed instituted, and the other a civil case for quasi-delict – without violating the rule on non-forum shopping. The two cases can proceed simultaneously and independently of each other. The commencement or prosecution of the criminal action will not suspend the civil action for quasi-delict. The only limitation is that the offended party cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant. In most cases, the offended party will have no reason to file a second civil action since he cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the accused. In some instances, the accused may be insolvent, necessitating the filing of another case against his employer or guardians.

San Ildefonso Lines vs. CA (GR:119771)

Justice Martinez:

The two (2) crucial issues to be resolved, as posited by petitioners, are:

1) If a criminal case was filed, can an independent civil action based on quasi-delict under Article 2176 of the Civil Code be filed if no reservation was made in the said criminal case?

2) Can a subrogee of an offended party maintain an independent civil action during the pendency of a criminal action when no reservation of the right to file an independent civil action was made in the criminal action and despite the fact that the private complainant is actively participating through a private prosecutor in the aforementioned criminal case?

We rule for petitioners.

On the chief issue of “reservation”, at the fore is Section 3, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court which reads:

“Sec. 3. When civil action may proceed independently. — In the cases provided for in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the independent civil action which has been reserved may be brought by the offended party, shall proceed independently of the criminal action, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.”

There is no dispute that these so-called “independent civil actions” based on the aforementioned Civil Code articles are the exceptions to the primacy of the criminal action over the civil action as set forth in Section 2 of Rule 111. However, it is easily deducible from the present wording of Section 3 as brought about by the 1988 amendments to the Rules on Criminal Procedure — particularly the phrase ” which has been reserved” — that the “independent” character of these civil actions does not do away with the reservation requirement. In other words, prior reservation is a condition sine qua non before any of these independent civil actions can be instituted and thereafter have a continuous determination apart from or simultaneous with the criminal action. That this should now be the controlling procedural rule is confirmed by no less than retired Justice Jose Y. Feria, remedial law expert and a member of the committee which drafted the 1988 amendments, whose learned explanation on the matter was aptly pointed out by petitioners.

Simon vs. Chan, CA (GR: 157547)

Justice Bersamin:

There is no independent civil action to recover the civil liability arising from the issuance of an unfunded check prohibited and punished under Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 (BP 22).

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The lone issue is whether or not Chan’s civil action to recover the amount of the unfunded check (Civil Case No. 915-00) was an independent civil action.

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Supreme Court Circular 57-97 states:

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  1. The criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 shall be deemed to necessarily include the corresponding civil action, and no reservation to file such civil action separately shall be allowed or recognized.

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The CA’s reliance on DMPI Employees Credit Association v. Velez to give due course to the civil action of Chan independently and separately of Criminal Case No. 275381 was unwarranted. DMPI Employees, which involved a prosecution for estafa, is not on all fours with this case, which is a prosecution for a violation of BP 22. Although the Court has ruled that the issuance of a bouncing check may result in two separate and distinct crimes of estafa and violation of BP 22, the procedures for the recovery of the civil liabilities arising from these two distinct crimes are different and non-interchangeable. In prosecutions of estafa, the offended party may opt to reserve his right to file a separate civil action, or may institute an independent action based on fraud pursuant to Article 33 of the Civil Code, as DMPI Employees has allowed. In prosecutions of violations of BP 22, however, the Court has adopted a policy to prohibit the reservation or institution of a separate civil action to claim the civil liability arising from the issuance of the bouncing check upon the reasons delineated in (the case of) Hyatt Industrial Manufacturing Corporation.

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