Monday, May 10, 2010

Legal Procedures 01: Jurisdiction of trial courts (MTC, RTC)

Free PDF legal procedures jurisdiction of trial courts(Note: Please surf to the complete list of available PDFs on legal procedures in criminal and civil cases.)

Beginning today, I will be posting PDFs on various legal procedures in civil and criminal cases for the use of the general public, law students, and bar candidates. You can freely download these PDF materials (surf to the complete list of available PDFs) and use them for your own reference, or print and distribute them to your friends or colleagues. But you must not edit these materials or use them commercially.

I designed these materials in 2003 and have not been able to make major revisions. Please check the Supreme Court website for any change in the legal procedures.

The use of graphics or cartoons to illustrate these PDF materials is in keeping with the theory of Jerry Lucas, renowned memory expert and one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players of all time. He said that people tend to remember words, things, or ideas better and faster when they are associated with funny, fantastic, or outlandish images. The use of these graphics also lessens the intimidation felt by people (non-lawyers and non-law students) when studying legal topics.

The other PDFs to be posted later on are printed one topic per letter-sized paper. You can cut the PDFs along the dashed lines and then compile them into a hard bound or ring bound album. Or you can place related pages side by side on 8.5 by 13 sized paper (like the PDF above) and then compile them into an album.

Jurisdiction of the trial courts

The term “jurisdiction” simply means that cases must be filed with the proper court. For example, so-called “ejectment” cases, which include forcible entry or unlawful detainer (non-payment of rentals), must always be filed with the MTC. The abbreviation “MTC” stands for Municipal Trial Court (for towns), or Metropolitan Trial Court (for cities). We also have the MTCC which stands for Municipal trial Court in Cities, and the Municipal Circuit Trial Court. An unlawful detainer case, no matter how much back rentals are involved, must always be filed with the MTC. If filed with the RTC (Regional Trial Court), the case will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

If the penalty is six years imprisonment below, MTC has jurisdiction

In terms of criminal cases, MTCs have jurisdiction over cases where the prescribed penalty is below six years imprisonment. (BP 22 or bouncing checks cases are handled by the MTC.) The RTC has jurisdiction over cases where the penalty is above six years.

If principal amount involved is below Php 400,000.00, MTC has jurisdiction

In civil cases, MTCs have jurisdiction over cases where the principal amount involved is below Php 400,000. Above this amount, the RTCs have jurisdiction.

Intra-corporate disputes, which were formerly tried by the Securities and Exchange Commission, are now under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court branches that are specifically designated as commercial courts.

Jurisdiction and venue

The case must not only be filed with the court with proper jurisdiction, it must also be filed with the court of proper venue.

In criminal cases, the Philippines follows the rule on territoriality, that is, the criminal complaint must be filed in the place where the crime took place. For example, if the crime happened in Manila, the complaint or the case cannot be filed in Quezon City. In certain meritorious cases (like the Maguindanao Massacre and the Subic rape case), the Supreme Court can order that the case be tried in a different place.

In civil cases, the complainant has the option of either filing the case in his or her residence, or in the residence of the defendant.

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