Summary Procedure in Civil Cases

Victoria’s Milling co., inc vs. CA (GR168062)

Although it is alleged that there may be a technical error in connection with the service of summons, there is no showing of any substantive injustice that would be caused to IPI so as to call for the disregard of the clear and categorical prohibition of filing petitions for certiorari. It must be pointed out that the Rule on Summary Procedure, by way of exception, permits only a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over thesubject matter but it does not mention the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the person.

It is a settled rule of statutory construction that the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of all others. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. From this it can be gleaned that allegations on the matter of lack of jurisdiction over the person by reason of improper service of summons, by itself, without a convincing showing of any resulting substantive injustice, cannot be used to hinder or stop the proceedings before the MCTC in the ejectment suit. With more reason, such ground should not be used to justify the violation of an express prohibition in the rules prohibiting the petition for certiorari.

Gachon vs. Devera, Jr. (GR 116695)

May the Rule on Summary Procedure be interpreted liberally to allow the admission of an answer filed out of time due to alleged oversight?

Other than a plea for the liberal interpretation of the Rule on Summary Procedure, petitioners do not provide an adequate justification for the admission of their late answer. Oversight, which they candidly cite as the reason for their filing a motion for extension of time to file an answer, is not a justification. Oversight, at best, implies negligence; at worst, ignorance. The negligence displayed by petitioners is clearly inexcusable; ignorance of so basic a rule, on the other hand, can never be condoned. In either case, the directory application of the questioned provision is not warranted.

Soriente vs Estate of the late Concepcion (GR 160239)

The Court notes that the ejectment case filed by respondent against petitioner was docketed in the trial court as Civil Case No. 17973, the case against Alfredo Caballero was docketed as Civil Case No. 17974, while the case against Severina Sadol was docketed as Civil Case No. 17932. These cases were consolidated by the trial court.

Under Section 7 of the 1991 Revised Rules on Summary Procedure, if a sole defendant shall fail to appear in the preliminary conference, the plaintiff shall be entitled to judgment in accordance with Section 6 of the Rule, that is, the court shall render judgment as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the Complaint and limited to what is prayed for therein. However, [t]his Rule (Sec. 7) shall not apply where one of two or more defendants sued under a common cause of action, who had pleaded a common defense, shall appear at the preliminary conference. Petitioner claims that the preceding provision applies to her as a defendant, since the ejectment cases were consolidated by the trial court, and she and Caballero filed the same Answer to the Complaint; hence, the trial court should not have rendered judgment against her when she failed to appear in the preliminary conference.

The Court holds that the italicized provision above does not apply in the case of petitioner, since she and Caballero were not co-defendants in the same case. The ejectment case filed against petitioner was distinct from that of Caballero, even if the trial court consolidated the cases and, in the interest of justice, considered the Answer filed by Caballero in Civil Case No. 17974 as the Answer also of petitioner since she affixed her signature thereto.

Considering that petitioner was sued in a separate case for ejectment from that of Caballero and Sadol, petitioners failure to appear in the preliminary conference entitled respondent to the rendition of judgment by the trial court on the ejectment case filed against petitioner, docketed as Civil Case No. 17973, in accordance with Section 7 of the 1991 Revised Rules on Summary Procedure.

Macadangdang vs. Gaviola (GR 156809)

Jurisdiction over forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases falls on the Metropolitan Trial Courts, the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, the Municipal Trial Courts, and the Municipal Circuit Trial Courts. Since the case before the the MTCC was an unlawful detainer case, it was governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure. The purpose of the Rules on Summary Procedure is to prevent undue delays in the disposition of cases and to achieve this, the filing of certain pleadings is prohibited, including the filing of a motion for reconsideration.

However, the motion for reconsideration that petitioners allege to be a prohibited pleading was filed before the RTC acting as an appellate court. The appeal before the RTC is no longer covered by the Rules on Summary Procedure. The Rules on Summary Procedure apply before the appeal to the RTC. Hence, respondents motion for reconsideration filed with the RTC is not a prohibited pleading.

RP, Napocor vs Sunvar Realty (GR 194880)

Under the Rules on Summary Procedure, a certiorari petition under Rule 65 against an interlocutory order issued by the court in a summary proceeding is a prohibited pleading. The prohibition is plain enough, and its further exposition is unnecessary verbiage. The RTC should have dismissed outright respondent Sunvars Rule 65 Petition, considering that it is a prohibited pleading. Petitioners have already alerted the RTC of this legal bar and immediately prayed for the dismissal of the certiorari Petition. Yet, the RTC not only refused to dismiss the certiorari Petition, but even proceeded to hear the Rule 65 Petition on the merits.

Five Star Marketing company vs. Booc (GR 143331)

The record reveals that both the respondent and his counsel failed to appear at the preliminary conference scheduled on August 3, 1999. The only explanation offered to justify their non-appearance was the counsels unpostponable personal engagement in Manila, without specification as to the details thereof. Assuming that the counsels justification is acceptable, the same should be applied only as an explanation for the his non-appearance. However, no explanation at all was offered with respect to the respondents failure to appear. At the very least, the respondent should have attended the preliminary conference notwithstanding the absence of his counsel. Absent any clear justification for the party and counsels non-appearance, the defiance of the lawful order of the court as well as the well-entrenched rule laid down by the rules of procedure on the effect of non-appearance, cannot be allowed.

Bongato vs. Malvar (GR 141614)

Petitioner further argues that a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter is not a prohibited pleading, but is allowed under Sec. 19(a) of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. We agree.

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Pursuant to Section 36 of BP 129, the Court on June 16, 1983, promulgated the Rule on Summary Procedure in Special Cases. Under this Rule, a motion to dismiss or quash is a prohibited pleading. Under the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, however, a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter is an exception to the rule on prohibited pleadings.

Atty. Enriquez vs. Judge Camarista (A.M. no. MTJ-97-1123)

The rules require courts to decide cases submitted for decision generally within three (3) months from the date of such submission. With respect to cases falling under the Rule on Summary Procedure, however, first level courts are only allowed thirty (30) days following the receipt of the last affidavit and position paper, or the expiration of the period for filing the same, within which to render judgment. The Rule on Summary Procedure was precisely enacted to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases. While the procedural requirement is directory it subjects the defaulting judge to administrative sanction for failure to observe the rule.

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What to know about Court Summons

Philamlife vs. Hon. Augusto Breva (GR 147937)

We agree with the CA. It is not pertinent whether the summons is designated as an original or an alias summons as long as it has adequately served its purpose. What is essential is that the summons complies with the requirements under the Rules of Court and it has been duly served on the defendant together with the prevailing complaint. In this case, the alias summons satisfies the requirements under the Rules, both as to its content and the manner of service. It contains all the information required under the rules, and it was served on the persons authorized to receive the summons on behalf of the petitioner at its principal office in Manila. Moreover, the second summons was technically not an alias summons but more of a new summons on the amended complaint. It was not a continuation of the first summons considering that it particularly referred to the amended complaint and not to the original complaint.

Pascual vs. Pascual (GR 171916)

Petitioner further states that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions must be applied to the present case. He expounds on the fact that as between the process server’s return of substituted service, which carries with it the presumption of regularity and the respondent’s self-serving assertion that she only came to know of the case against her when she received a copy of the petitioner’s motion to declare her in default, the process server’s return is undoubtedly more deserving of credit. The said argument, however, is only meritorious, provided that there was a strict compliance with the procedure for serving a summons. In the absence of even the barest compliance with the procedure for a substituted service of summons outlined in the Rules of Court, the presumption of regularity in the performance of public functions does not apply.

Applying the above disquisitions, the jurisdiction over the person of the respondent was never vested with the RTC, because the manner of substituted service by the process server was apparently invalid and ineffective. As such, there was a violation of due process. Jurisdiction over the defendant is acquired either upon a valid service of summons or the defendants voluntary appearance in court. When the defendant does not voluntarily submit to the courts jurisdiction or when there is no valid service of summons, any judgment of the court which has no jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is null and void.

Palma vs. Hon. Galvez (GR 165273)

In Montefalcon v. Vasquez, we said that because Section 16 of Rule 14 uses the words may and also, it is not mandatory. Other methods of service of summons allowed under the Rules may also be availed of by the serving officer on a defendant-resident who is temporarily out of the Philippines. Thus, if a resident defendant is temporarily out of the country, any of the following modes of service may be resorted to: (1) substituted service set forth in section 7 ( formerly Section 8), Rule 14; (2) personal service outside the country, with leave of court; (3) service by publication, also with leave of court; or (4) in any other manner the court may deem sufficient.

Regner vs. Logarta (GR 168747)

Being an action in personam, the general rule requires the personal service of summons on Cynthia within the Philippines, but this is not possible in the present case because Cynthia is a non-resident and is not found within the Philippines.

As Cynthia is a nonresident who is not found in the Philippines, service of summons on her must be in accordance with Section 15, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. Such service, to be effective outside the Philippines, must be made either (1) by personal service; (2) by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such places and for such time as the court may order, in which case a copy of the summons and order of the court should be sent by registered mail to the last known address of the defendant; or (3) in any other manner which the court may deem sufficient. The third mode, like the first two, must be made outside the Philippines, such as through the Philippine Embassy in the foreign country where Cynthia resides.

Since in the case at bar, the service of summons upon Cynthia was not done by any of the authorized modes, the trial court was correct in dismissing petitioners complaint.

Pacaa-Gonzales vs. CA (GR 150908)

Petitioners appeal for liberality in the application of the rules, technicalities not being permitted to sway the broader interest of justice, does not lie. Modes of service of summons must be strictly followed in order that the court may acquire jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. The purpose of this is to afford the defendant an opportunity to be heard on the claim against him. The summons intended for Phua being invalid, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over him and could not as it did not render a valid judgment against him.

Robinson vs. Miralles (GR 163584)

Petitioner contends that the service of summons upon the subdivision security guard is not in compliance with Section 7, Rule 14 since he is not related to her or staying at her residence. Moreover, he is not duly authorized to receive summons for the residents of the village. Hence, the substituted service of summons is not valid and that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over her person.

We have ruled that the statutory requirements of substituted service must be followed strictly, faithfully, and fully and any substituted service other than that authorized by the Rules is considered ineffective. However, we frown upon an overly strict application of the Rules. It is the spirit, rather than the letter of the procedural rules, that governs.

In his Return, Sheriff Potente declared that he was refused entry by the security guard in Alabang Hills twice. The latter informed him that petitioner prohibits him from allowing anybody to proceed to her residence whenever she is out. Obviously, it was impossible for the sheriff to effect personal or substituted service of summons upon petitioner. We note that she failed to controvert the sheriffs declaration. Nor did she deny having received the summons through the security guard.

Considering her strict instruction to the security guard, she must bear its consequences. Thus, we agree with the trial court that summons has been properly served upon petitioner and that it has acquired jurisdiction over her.

Manotoc vs. CA (GR 130974)

Due to non-compliance with the prerequisites for valid substituted service, the proceedings held before the trial court perforce must be annulled.

The court a quo heavily relied on the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty. It reasons out that [t]he certificate of service by the proper officer is prima facie evidence of the facts set out herein, and to overcome the presumption arising from said certificate, the evidence must be clear and convincing.

The Court acknowledges that this ruling is still a valid doctrine. However, for the presumption to apply, the Sheriffs Return must show that serious efforts or attempts were exerted to personally serve the summons and that said efforts failed. These facts must be specifically narrated in the Return. To reiterate, it must clearly show that the substituted service must be made on a person of suitable age and discretion living in the dwelling or residence of defendant. Otherwise, the Return is flawed and the presumption cannot be availed of. As previously explained, the Return of Sheriff Caelas did not comply with the stringent requirements of Rule 14, Section 8 on substituted service.

Bill of Particulars

Heide M. Estandarte (GR156851-55)

While the Bill of Particulars is not allowed under the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman and therefore should not be the basis for determining what specific criminal charges should be filed against herein petitioner, it behooves the Ombudsman to accord the petitioner her basic rights to due process in the conduct of the preliminary investigation.

Virata vs. Sandiganbayan (114331)

A bill of particulars is a complementary procedural document consisting of an amplification or more particularized outline of a pleading, and being in the nature of a more specific allegation of the facts recited in the pleading. It is the office of the bill of particulars to inform the opposite party and the court of the precise nature and character of the cause of action or defense which the pleader has attempted to set forth and thereby to guide his adversary in his preparations for trial, and reasonably to protect him against surprise at the trial.

Domondon vs. Sandiganbayan (GR 166606)

While the Speedy Trial Act of 1998 sets the time limit for the arraignment and trial of a case, these however do not preclude justifiable postponements and delay when so warranted by the situation. Section 2 of SC Circular 38-98 provides that the period of the pendency of a motion to quash, or for a bill of particulars, or other causes justifying suspension of arraignment, shall be excluded.

Thus in People v. Tee, we held that the right to a speedy trial is deemed violated only when: 1) the proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; 2) when unjustified postponements are asked for and secured; 3) when without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried.

Baritua vs Mercader (GR 136048)

Petitioners argue that the Court of Appeals erred when it passed sub silencio on the trial courts failure to rule frontally on their plea for a bill of particulars.

We are not impressed. It must be noted that petitioners counsel manifested in open court his desire to file a motion for a bill of particulars. The RTC gave him ten days from March 12, 1985 within which to do so. He, however, filed the aforesaid motion only on April 2, 1985 or eleven days past the deadline set by the trial court. Moreover, such motion was already moot and academic because, prior to its filing, petitioners had already filed their answer and several other pleadings to the amended Complaint.

 

Venue of Actions

Auction in Malinta, Inc. vs Lubayen (GR 173979)

The sole issue is whether the stipulation in the parties Bidders Application and Registration Bidding Agreement effectively limited the venue of the instant case exclusively to the proper court of Valenzuela City.

The Court rules in the negative.

The general rule on the venue of personal actions, as in the instant case for damages filed by respondent, is embodied in Section 2, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court. It provides:

Sec. 2. Venue of personal actions. All other actions may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a nonresident defendant, where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.

The afore-quoted rule, however, finds no application where the parties, before the filing of the action, have validly agreed in writing on an exclusive venue. But the mere stipulation on the venue of an action is not enough to preclude parties from bringing a case in other venues. It must be shown that such stipulation is exclusive. In the absence of qualifying or restrictive words, such as exclusively and waiving for this purpose any other venue, shall only preceding the designation of venue, to the exclusion of the other courts, or words of similar import, the stipulation should be deemed as merely an agreement on an additional forum, not as limiting venue to the specified place.

This has been the rule since the 1969 case of Polytrade Corporation v. Blanco. It was held therein that the clause [t]he parties agree to sue and be sued in the Courts of Manila, does not preclude the filing of suits in the court which has jurisdiction over the place of residence of the plaintiff or the defendant. The plain meaning of the said provision is that the parties merely consented to be sued in Manila considering that there are no qualifying or restrictive words which would indicate that Manila, and Manila alone, is the agreed venue. It simply is permissive and the parties did not waive their right to pursue remedy in the courts specifically mentioned in Section 2 of Rule 4 of the Rules of Court.

Paglaum Management and Development corp vs Union Bank (GR 179018)

The sole issue to be resolved is whether Makati City is the proper venue to assail the foreclosure of the subject real estate mortgage. This Court rules in the affirmative.

According to the Rules, real actions shall be commenced and tried in the court that has jurisdiction over the area where the property is situated. In this case, all the mortgaged properties are located in the Province of Cebu. Thus, following the general rule, PAGLAUM and HealthTech should have filed their case in Cebu, and not in Makati.

However, the Rules provide an exception, in that real actions can be commenced and tried in a court other than where the property is situated in instances where the parties have previously and validly agreed in writing on the exclusive venue thereof. In the case at bar, the parties claim that such an agreement exists. The only dispute is whether the venue that should be followed is that contained in the Real Estate Mortgages, as contended by Union Bank, or that in the Restructuring Agreement, as posited by PAGLAUM and HealthTech. This Court rules that the venue stipulation in the Restructuring Agreement should be controlling.

Union Bank vs. People of the Phils (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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Under the circumstances, Article 183 of the RPC is indeed the applicable provision; thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined on the basis of this article which penalizes one who make[s] an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires. The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit; thus, the criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is subscribed and sworn before a duly authorized person.

Baritua vs. CA (GR 100748)

It is fundamental that the situs for bringing real and personal civil actions is fixed by the rules to attain the greatest convenience possible to parties litigants and their witnesses by affording them maximum accessibility to the courts of justice. The choice of venue is given to the plaintiff but is not left to his caprice. It cannot unduly deprive a resident defendant of the rights conferred upon him by the Rules of Court.

When the complaint was filed in Rosales, Pangasinan, not one of the parties was a resident of the town. Private respondent was a resident of Los Angeles, California while his attorney-in-fact was a resident of Cubao, Quezon City. Petitioners business address according to private respondent is in Pasay City, although petitioner claims he resides in Gubat, Sorsogon. The venue in Rosales, Pangasinan was indeed improperly laid.