Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Legal Procedures 22: Filing of complaint and answer in civil cases

Supreme Court materials on the new system known as “Face-to-Face Trial” A.M. No. 14-03-02-SC, March 8, 2014 that’s meant to speed up the resolution of case (external link)

Free PDF legal procedures filing of complaint and answerNote: Please surf to the complete list of available PDFs on legal procedures in criminal and civil cases.

The usual way a civil case proceeds

1. The plaintiff files the complaint against the defendant and pays the filing fees with the Office of the Clerk of Court. The case is raffled off to a specific court branch.

2. The process server or the court sheriff serves the summons by handing it personally to the defendant, or if he refuses to receive and sign for it, by tendering it to him. In certain cases, summons may be published in a newspaper. (Please read Rule 14 - Summon.)

3. The summons is not served because:
(a) the plaintiff loses interest in pursuing the case by filing a notice of dismissal;

(b) the defendant cannot be located at the address stated in the complaint (the court may then issue an alias summons).
4. Jurisdiction over the defendant is acquired by his receipt of the summons. If it cannot be served, the court provisionally dismisses the case (that is, without prejudice to its revival once the defendant is located).

5. Defendant may file either (a) an answer or (b) a motion to dismiss. This must be submitted within fifteen days from receipt of the summons. The period to answer however may be extended by the court upon motion. (Please read Rule 11 - When to file responsive pleadings.)

6. If the court denies the motion to dismiss, the defendant must file his answer within the remaining time (which must not be less than five days from his receipt of the notice of denial). The practice of some judges is to require the defendant to file an answer and not a motion to dismiss. In such a case, the defendant must allege the grounds for dismissal as affirmative defenses in his answer.

Additional things to consider

(a) Before filing an answer, the defendant may file a “bill of particulars” pointing out defects in the complaint, the details desired, the vague allegations, etc. (Please read Rule 12 - Bill of particulars.)

(b) Husband and wife generally shall sue or be sued jointly since both are co-administrators of the community property or the conjugal partnership property. (Please read Rule 3 - Parties to civil actions.)

(c) The requirements for a class suit are common or general interest in the subject matter of the case, and the affected persons are so numerous that it is impracticable to join them all as parties.

(d) In case of transfer of interest, the action may be continued by or against the original party, unless the court directs the transferee to be substituted in the action or joined with the original party.

(e) The complaint must contain a certification against forum shopping. If there is none, the court will dismiss the complaint

(f) The venue of personal actions is the court of the place where the plaintiff (or any of the principal plaintiffs) resides, or where the defendant (or any of the principal defendants) resides, at the election of the plaintiff.

Forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, and those involving title or possession of real property with an assessed value of Php 50,000. (in Metro Manila) shall be tried in the MTC wherein the real property involved or a portion thereof is situated.

The rules on venue however shall not apply in cases where a specific rule or law applies, and when the parties have validly agreed in writing before the filing of the action on the exclusive venue thereof. (Please read Rule 4 - Venue of actions.)

(g) Venue: Where should the case be filed if there are several complainants?

The Supreme Court ruled in “Irene Marcos-Araneta, Daniel Rubio, Orlando G. Reslin, And Jose G. Reslin, Petitioners, vs. Court Of Appeals, Julita C. Benedicto, And Francisca Benedicto-Paulino, Respondents” that the case must be filed in the proper court of the residence of the principal complainant, as Sec. 2 of Rule 4 provides. The Court ruled:
Irene was a resident during the period material of Forbes Park, Makati City. She was not a resident of Brgy. Lacub, Batac, Ilocos Norte, although jurisprudence[44] has it that one can have several residences, if such were the established fact. The Court will not speculate on the reason why petitioner Irene, for all the inconvenience and expenses she and her adversaries would have to endure by a Batac trial, preferred that her case be heard and decided by the RTC in Batac. On the heels of the dismissal of the original complaints on the ground of improper venue, three new personalities were added to the complaint doubtless to insure, but in vain as it turned out, that the case stays with the RTC in Batac.

Litigants ought to bank on the righteousness of their causes, the superiority of their cases, and the persuasiveness of arguments to secure a favorable verdict. It is high time that courts, judges, and those who come to court for redress keep this ideal in mind.
(h) Difference between personal action and real action:
In a personal action, the plaintiff seeks the recovery of personal property, the enforcement of a contract, or the recovery of damages.

Real actions, on the other hand, are those affecting title to or possession of real property, or interest therein.

In accordance with the wordings of Sec. 1 of Rule 4, the venue of real actions shall be the proper court which has territorial jurisdiction over the area wherein the real property involved, or a portion thereof, is situated.

The venue of personal actions is the court 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 non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff. (Irene Marcos-Araneta vs. CA)
(i) Rules on indigent litigants (Spouses Algura v. The Local Government Unit of the City of Naga, et al. GR No. 150135, October 30, 2006)
Who is an indigent under Section 19 of Rule 141?

(1) The applicant’s gross income and that of the applicant's immediate family do not exceed an amount double the monthly minimum wage of an employee; and

(2) The applicant does not own real property with a fair market value of more than Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (PhP 300,000.00).

If the trial court finds that the applicant meets the income and property requirements, the authority to litigate as indigent litigant is automatically granted and the grant is a matter of right.

If the applicant for exemption meets the salary and property requirements under Sec. 19 of Rule 141, then the grant of the application is mandatory. On the other hand, when the application does not satisfy one or both requirements, then the applicant should not be denied outright; instead the court should apply the ‘indigency test’ under Section 21 of Rule 3 and use its sound discretion in determining the merits of the prayer for exemption.”
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 1 – General Provisions

Rule 2 – Cause of action

Rule 3 – Parties to civil actions

Rule 4 – Venue of actions

Rule 5 – Uniform procedure in trial courts

Rule 6 – Kinds of pleadings

Rule 7 – Parts of a pleading

Rule 8 – Manner of making allegations in pleadings

Rule 9 – Effect of failure to plead

Rule 10 – Amended and supplemental pleadings

Rule 11 – When to file responsive pleadings

Rule 12 – Bill of particulars

Rule 13 – Filing and service of pleadings, judgments and other papers

Rule 14 – Summons

Rule 15 – Motions

Rule 16 – Motion to dismiss