DECODING THE 2016 REVISED RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR SMALL CLAIMS CASES

small-claimOn March 18, 2010, Administrative Matter No. 08-8-7-SC otherwise known as the Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases was promulgated and made effective to all first level courts nationwide. The Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases had been found by the Supreme Court to be an effective tool in providing a simplified and inexpensive recourse for litigants to assert and collect their monetary claims.

For years, the Rules had served its purpose effectively and efficiently just like how the Supreme Court of the Philippines had envisioned it to be. However, progress and development in all aspects of human life had been so swift in the recent years. The cost of living was catapulted to a record high level  as the value of peso vis-à-vis the value of dollar continues to decline. Now, the mode by which Filipinos execute and perfect their transactions, and the way by which they comply with the terms and conditions thereof had been greatly modified by the advent of internet-fueled e-commerce. Consequently, the Supreme Court had determined the need to revisit the Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases and brush it up in order to make it in keeping and still effective despite the changes that progress and development had brought to the contemporary lives of Filipinos.

On August 11, 2015, the Special Committee on Small Claims Cases was created under Memorandum Order No. 32-2015. The Committee was tasked to review the existing Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases in order to ensure that the Judiciary’s objectives of expediting trial and resolving cases effectively and efficiently will be continuously attained . Thus, the Revised Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases was completed and made effective on February 01, 2016.

This written endeavor seeks to discuss the salient changes introduced by the Revised Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases. Thus:

I. OBJECTIVES:

  • To protect and advance the constitutional right of persons to a speedy disposition of their cases;
  • To provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the disposition of small claims cases; and,
  • To introduce innovations and best practices for the benefit of the underprivileged.

 II. SCOPE:

The Rule shall govern the procedure in actions before the Metropolitan Trial Courts (MeTCs), Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCCs), Municipal Trial Courts (MTCs) and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts (MCTCs) for payment of money where the VALUE OF THE CLAIM does not exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00) exclusive of interest and costs.

NOTE: Under the old Rule, the amount of the claim should not exceed One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) exclusive of interest and cost.

III. APPLICABILITY:

The Rule shall apply in all actions that are purely civil in nature and where the claim or relief prayed for by the plaintiff is solely for payment or reimbursement of sum of money.

The CLAIM or DEMAND may be:

  • For money owed under any of the following:
    • Contract of Lease;
    • Contract of Loan;
    • Contract of Services;
    • Contract of Sale; or
    • Contract of Mortgage;
  • For liquidated damages arising from contracts;
  • The enforcement of a barangay amicable settlement or an arbitration award involving a money claim covered by this Rule pursuant to Sec. 417 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as The Local Government Code of 1991

NOTE: Before, the Rules on Small Claim Cases could be applied only on the following cases:

  1. Purely civil in nature where the claim or relief prayed for by the plaintiff is solely for payment or reimbursement of sum of money;

These claims or demands may be:

(a) For money owed under any of the following:

  •  Contract of Lease;
  • Contract of Loan;
  • Contract of Services;
  • Contract of Sale; or
  • Contract of Mortgage;

(b) For damages arising from any of the following:

  • Fault or negligence;
  • Quasi-contract; or
  • Contract;

 NOTE: The Revised Rules applies only to liquidated damages.

2. The enforcement of a barangay amicable settlement or an arbitration award involving a money claim covered by this Rule pursuant to Sec. 417

3. The civil aspect of criminal actions, either filed before the institution of the criminal action, or reserved upon the filing of the criminal action in court.

*NOTE: The Revised Rules did not include civil aspect of criminal actions in the enumeration of its  applicability.

IV. COMMENCEMENT OF SMALL CLAIMS ACTION

The new Rule requires that the plaintiff must state in the Statement of Claim if he/she/ is engaged in the business of lending, banking and similar activities, and the number of small claims cases filed within the calendar year regardless of judicial station. This was not required under the old Rule.

V. VENUE

The regular rules on venue shall apply. However, if the plaintiff is engaged in the business of lending, banking and similar activities, and has a branch within the municipality or city where the defendant resides, the Statement of Claim/s shall be filed where that branch is located.

It bears stressing that the old Rule did not expressly provide what rule on venue will be applied. Nevertheless, during its effectivity, courts had consistently applied the rules on venue for regular cases which is provided under the Rules of Court.

 

VI. PAYMENT OF FILING FEES:

 The plaintiff shall pay the docket and other legal fees prescribed under Rule 141 of the Revised Rules of Court, unless allowed to litigate as an indigent.

If more than five (5) small claims are filed by one party within the calendar year, regardless of the judicial station, an additional filing fee of 500.00 shall be paid for every claim filed after the fifth (5th) claim.

Additional 100.00 or a total of 600.00 for every claim filed after the tenth (10th) claim, and another 100.00 or a total of 700 for every claim filed after the fifteenth (15th) claim, progressively and cumulatively.

Exemption from the payment of filing fees shall be granted only by the Supreme Court.

NOTE: The old rule merely states that —The plaintiff shall pay the docket and other legal fees prescribed under Rule 141 of the Revised Rules of Court, unless allowed to litigate as an indigent.

VII. DISMISSAL OF THE CLAIM

The Court may from an examination of the allegations of the Statement of Claim/s and such evidence attached thereto, by itself, dismiss the case outright on any of the grounds for the dismissal of the case. The order of dismissal shall state if it is with or without prejudice.

If during the hearing, the court is able to determine that there exists a ground for dismissal of the Statement of Claim/s, the court may, by itself, dismiss the case even if such ground is not pleaded in the defendant’s Response.

If plaintiff misrepresents that he/she/ it is not engaged in the business of banking, lending or similar activities when in fact he/she/it is so engaged, the Statement of Claim/s shall be dismissed with prejudice and plaintiff shall be meted the appropriate sanctions, such as direct contempt.

However, if the case does not fall under this Rule, but falls under summary or regular procedure, the case shall NOT be dismissed. Instead, the case shall be RE-DOCKETED under the appropriate procedure, and RETURNED to the court where it was assigned, subject to payment of any deficiency in the applicable regular rate of filing fees. If a case is filed under the regular or summary procedure, but actually falls under this Rule, the case shall be referred to the Executive Judge for appropriate assignment.

 NOTE: Under the old rule, only the following was provided –The Court may, from an examination of the allegations of the Statement of Claim and such evidence attached thereto, by itself, dismiss the case outright on any of the grounds apparent from the Claim for the dismissal of a civil action.

VIII. SUMMONS AND NOTICE OF HEARING

 A Notice of Hearing shall accompany the Summons and shall contain:

  1. the date of the hearing, which shall not be more than thirty (30) days from the filing of the Statement of Claim/s; and
  2. the express prohibition against the filing of a motion to dismiss or any other motion under Section 16 of this Rule.

If Summons is returned without being served on any or all of the defendants, the court shall order the plaintiff to cause the service of summons and shall inform the court within thirty (30) days from notice if said summons was served or not; otherwise, the Statement of Claim/ s shall be dismissed without prejudice as to those who were not served with summons

NOTE: Under the old Rule, courts seems to have the entire discretion in setting the date of hearing. The old rule is silent as to when the initial hearing will be set unlike the new Rule which expressly provides that the  date of the hearing shall not be more than thirty (30) days from the filing of  the Statement of Claim.

IX. CERTIFICATION OF DOCUMENTS

All documents attached to the Statement of Claim/s or Response that are required to be certified, except public or official documents, shall be certified by the signature of the plaintiff or defendant concerned.

X. NON-APPLICABILITY OF JDR

 The rules on mediation/judicial dispute resolution shall not apply, inasmuch as the parties may enter into compromise at any stage of the proceedings.

XI. EFFECTIVITY

The Rule shall govern all cases filed after its effectivity, and also all pending proceedings, except to the extent that in the opinion of the court, their application would not be feasible or would work injustice, in which case the procedure under which the cases were filed shall govern.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s