CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IN THE PHILIPPINES
This article will provide guidance on the Code of Civil Procedure in the Philippines. The Philippines is a unitary presidential constitutional republic, with the President of the Philippines acting as both the head of state and the head of government. The legal system of the Philippines is based on the civil law system, which is heavily influenced by Spanish and American law. The country has a written constitution providing a presidential form of government with three branches: the executive, legislative, and judiciary. English and Filipino are the official languages of the country.
Understanding local customs and practices can be critical when serving legal documents in the Philippines. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal, with experience in the region, knows how papers should be served in accordance with the rules of the courts. We can ensure that your documents are served in an appropriate manner that will not jeopardize the safety of your documents. This can help to avoid misunderstandings or delays in the legal process.
The court system of the Philippines relies on Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts within cities, Municipal Trial Courts within municipalities, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts within regions consisting of municipalities that are grouped. The Supreme Court is the highest in the land, and its fifteen justices may either hear cases together (en banc) or split into three groups (each with five members) to rule on specific cases. It can examine decisions by subordinate courts and government agencies to determine whether discretion was seriously abused.
Depending on the case's complexity, the number of witnesses, and any other exigencies, a trial could last anywhere from six months to three years. The main stages of civil proceedings are filing the complaint, issuing summons, and exchanging other operative pleadings, which typically take three to six months. Then, the trial proceeds to referral to two-stage mediation, pre-trial, and discovery, which could take six months to one year, followed by the trial proper, which could take anywhere from six months to one year.
PRE-ACTION PROCEDURES IN THE PHILIPPINES
No special procedures must be followed before a party may begin legal action. However, the judicial affidavits of the parties' witnesses and any documentary or object evidence must be submitted to the court and served on the other party no later than five days before the planned date of the pre-trial or preliminary conference under the Judicial Affidavit Regulation. The judge will issue a pre-trial order when the pre-trial meeting is over. If a trial is to be held, the pre-trial order will specify the scope of the case, the parties involved, and the matters to be decided.
The Rules of Court in the Philippines set out specific rules and procedures for the service of legal documents. These rules vary depending on the type of document being served and the location of the parties involved. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal, aware of service requirements in the Philippines, can provide valuable assistance in ensuring that your documents are served in compliance with the Rules of the Court, which can help avoid delays or complications in your case.
INITIATING LEGAL PROCEEDINGS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Filing a complaint or petition in a civil action initiates the process in the court with jurisdiction over the alleged wrongdoing. After the first complaint has been filed, the court will review it to see whether it may be thrown out prima facie. If the case is not dismissed following this review, the court will issue a summons within five days, giving the opposite side thirty days to respond with an appropriate pleading or response.
The complaint must include the names and addresses of the parties involved and the final facts that give rise to the plaintiff's cause of action. Furthermore, the plaintiff must swear on an affidavit that they have read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct to their knowledge or based on authentic records, that the pleading is not intended to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation, and that the factual allegations in the complaint have evidentiary support. In addition, it must include a ‘Certification against Forum Shopping,’ in which the plaintiff swears under oath that he hasn't started a similar case or filed a similar claim in any other court or tribunal. A secretary's certificate or special power of attorney authorizing the affiant to act on behalf of the plaintiff should also be included with the complaint.
The content of any instrument or document upon which the action is founded must be made out in the pleading, and the original or a copy thereof should be attached to the pleading as an exhibit. Attaching a copy of the instrument or document to the pleading is also possible. At Undisputed Legal, we ensure your documents are up-to-date with local and international legislation's appropriate due diligence requirements.
SERVICE OF LEGAL PAPERS IN THE PHILIPPINES
In civil matters, the court will issue a summons to the defendant or respondent upon filing the complaint, which must be served on the defendant or respondent to put them on notice of the action being taken against them. The summons and the complaint must be served on the defendant if it is a domestic company. One of the most common mistakes that can occur when serving legal documents is serving the wrong person or entity. This can happen for various reasons, including outdated or incorrect contact information, language barriers, or incorrect recipient identification. An international private process service agency like Undisputed Legal can help verify recipient information's accuracy, ensuring that the documents are served to the correct party.
Substitute service may be used in lieu of personal service if necessary. Filing a complaint or petition in a court with jurisdiction over the underlying civil action is the first step in starting a civil claim case. After the defendant has filed an answer, the claimant or petitioner may submit a reply to address any new arguments or evidence raised in the defendant's response. The court will enable the claimant to respond to the request to dismiss within the allotted time frame.
An order setting a pre-trial conference must be issued within thirty days of the day the court obtains jurisdiction over the person of the accused unless a shorter term is allowed for in special legislation or circulars of the Supreme Court. A copy must be personally delivered to the defendant or provided to them if they refuse to accept it. If personal service cannot be made, substituted service may be made by [A.] leaving copies of the summons at the defendant's residence with a person of at least eighteen years of age and of sufficient discretion residing there; [B.] leaving copies of the summons at the defendant's office or regular place of business with a competent person in charge thereof or [C.] leaving copies of the summons, if refused entry, with any officers of the homeowner's association or condominium corporation, or the chief manager of the building.
The plaintiff may move to declare the defendant in default if the defendant fails to respond to the complaint. If the motion is granted, the court may enter judgment giving the plaintiff whatever their pleadings warrant relief unless the court orders the plaintiff to present more evidence.
When you need legal papers to be served in the Philippines quickly, go no further than Undisputed Legal. When serving legal papers, time is paramount, and delays may be expensive. You may prevent missed deadlines and other case concerns with our assurance that we will expeditiously deliver your papers.
ENFORCEMENT OF A FOREIGN JUDGEMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES
For the purpose of enforcing a domestic judgment, a motion for execution must be filed in the court that issued the judgment after it has become final and executable. The Regional Trial Court is where to go to have a foreign judgment recognized. Evidence of lack of jurisdiction, lack of notice to the party, conspiracy, fraud, or obvious error in determining the law or the facts may be used to set aside the foreign judgment. Hence, the foreign judgment will be enforced based on the decision of the RTC or the appellate court affirming the foreign verdict.
In the Philippines, most legal disputes are settled via adversarial court proceedings. To have a foreign decision enforced in our nation, an action must be filed with the relevant local court. Petitioning the court to enforce a foreign decision follows the same procedures as other local proceedings. Both in rem and personam proceedings are subject to challenges in the domestic courts on the grounds of improper jurisdiction, insufficient service of process, fraud, or manifest error of fact or law.
While there is no treaty or convention requirement requiring the Philippines to recognize foreign judgments or establish a method for their enforcement, the incorporation clause of the 1987 Constitution makes commonly recognized concepts of international law part of the country's laws. The Constitution of the Philippines recognizes and affirms the general right to seek recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. The Constitution also affirms the right to defend against such enforcement because of lack of jurisdiction, lack of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
For this reason, a foreign judgment or order may only be recognized and enforced by the domestic courts after a definitive and binding determination.
SERVICE OF FOREIGN PAPERS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Extraterritorial service allows for service on a non-resident of the Philippines. This is only permissible if the action affects the plaintiff's status, relates to or is the subject of property within the Philippines to which the defendant claims an interest, or involves the defendant's property that has been attached. Personal service, publication in a newspaper of general circulation with a copy mailed to the defendant's last known address, service in accordance with international conventions to which the Philippines is a party, and any other means the court deems adequate may all be used for extraterritorial service. Personal service is almost always preferable. Proper documentation and authentication are critical when serving legal documents in the Philippines. To make sure your legal papers follow local laws and regulations, Undisputed Legal is available to advise you on the unique requirements for documentation and authentication.
The courts' subject-matter jurisdiction is granted by statute and the Constitution and cannot be waived by the parties agreement. When a lawsuit is filed in a Filipino court, and that court possesses subject matter, party, and res judicata jurisdiction, it may proceed to trial even if the norms of conflict of laws, the convenience of the parties, or the applicable contractual stipulation indicate to a foreign venue.
The serving of process or pleadings to a party in the Philippines in connection with proceedings pending in other jurisdictions is not governed by any specific statute or rule of procedure. The Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Cases, 1965 (HCCH Convention) does not include the Philippines as a signatory (Hague Service Convention). Service of process in the Philippines may be accomplished by mail, via an agent such as a local attorney, or by letters rogatory. The foreign state's department or minister of foreign affairs will receive the summons from the foreign country's court. The embassy of the foreign state in the Philippines will be served with the summons by the foreign state's department or ministry of foreign affairs.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for sending the defendant's summons to the trial court with jurisdiction over them. When the trial court's process server has served the summons, the defendant must complete and file a proof of service. To complete the process, the Department of Foreign Affairs receives the evidence of service and then delivers it to the corresponding embassy of the foreign state in the Philippines. Proof of service is sent from the foreign state's embassy in the Philippines to the foreign state's department or ministry of foreign affairs, which then sends it to the court that issued the summons. Identifying the appropriate authority and the required compliance can often be dizzying, so Undisputed Legal aims to provide unimpeachable service.
Undisputed Legal can also provide professional translation services to ensure that your documents are properly translated into Filipino, the official language of the Philippines. This can help to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations that can lead to errors in the serving of documents.
Although the Philippines is not a signatory to the Hague Evidence Convention, Filipino authorities have informed the US Embassy that depositions of willing witnesses in civil and commercial actions may be conducted before US consular personnel in the Philippines. If the witness is willing, the deposition may occur in the Philippines regardless of nationality. US consular personnel or private US or Filipino lawyers may take depositions orally or in writing at the US Embassy or another place (such as a hotel or office) on notice or under a commission. Comity and reciprocity suggest that the same approach be used to obtain willing witnesses' depositions in civil and commercial actions against other foreign nations.
While many potential mistakes can occur when serving legal documents in the Philippines, we at Undisputed Legal can help to mitigate these risks and ensure that your documents are served properly and efficiently. From verification of recipient information and proper documentation and authentication to translation services, we can provide valuable guidance and support throughout serving your legal documents in the Philippines.
Documents can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed to email@example.com, or uploaded on our website. We do require prepayment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.
Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist will receive all documents.
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1. By and large, MTCs hear civil matters with claims totaling less than php2,000,000.00. If the value of the real property or interest at stake in the civil action does not exceed php400,000.00, then the MTC has jurisdiction over the case.
2. Some matters are required to be brought to mediation before trial in accordance with the Consolidated and Revised Guidelines to Implement the Expanded Coverage of Court-Annexed Mediation (CAM) and Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR) (AM No. 11-1-6-SC-PHILJA). F
3. Bank of the Philippine Island v Hong, G.R. No. 161771, 15 February 2012
4. Moreover, the 2019 ROC changes mandate that the claimant's pleading include:
- the identity of the witnesses and a synopsis of their planned testimony;
- judicial affidavits of the witnesses; and
- Documentary and object evidence in support of the claims included in the pleading. Additional witnesses not mentioned in the claimant's pleading are not admissible unless there are compelling grounds to do so.
5. After receiving the complaint, the defendant/respondent has 15 days to submit a response under Rule 11 or a request to dismiss under Rule 16 of the Rules of Court.
6. Cases are always randomly assigned to the appropriate division within the MTC or RTC in an open session after proper notification to all parties involved. For example, family law cases and business lawsuits are randomly assigned to different departments.
7. Section 48, Rule 39, Rules of Court; Mijares v Ranada, G.R. No. 139325, 12 April 2005
8. Raytheon International, Inc v Rouzie, Jr., G.R. No. 162894, February 26, 2008
9. The embassy of the foreign state shall send the summons to the local DFA, especially Division IV - Service of Process and Litigation of the DFA's Office of Legal Affairs.
10. However, as was previously stated, the Service of Process and Litigation Division of the Office of Legal Affairs of the DFA states that a letter rogatory issued by a foreign court is required to take evidence from a witness in the Philippines, which will then be transmitted to the relevant embassy in the Philippines. The DFA, in turn, must deliver the letter to the court with jurisdiction over the possible witness's home.