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Dean Riano Lectures on Remedial Laws

Updated on April 10, 2012

The Review Center at Twilight

Transcribed Notes on Civil Precedures, Part I



I. General Principles

A. Concept of Remedial Law

The Rules of Court as a whole constitute the body of rules governing pleadings, practice and procedure. As they do not originate from the legislature, they cannot be called laws in the strict sense of the word. However, since they are promulgated by authority of law, they have the force and effect of law if not in conflict with a positive law. The Rules are subordinate to statute, and in case of conflict, the statute will prevail.

The concept of Remedial Law lies at the very core of procedural due process, which means a law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial, and contemplates an opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered.

Remedial Law is that branch of law which prescribes the method of enforcing the rights for obtaining redress for their invasion.

Remedial laws are implemented in our system of government through the pillars of the judicial system, including the prosecutory service, our courts of justice and quasi judicial agencies.

We cannot separate remedial law from substantive law. Remedial law does not establish a right. Substantive law establishes that right, but remedial law protects and enforces such right.

B. Substantive Law as Distinguished from Remedial Law

SUBSTANTIVE LAW is that part of the law which creates, defines and regulates rights concerning life, liberty, or property, or the powers of agencies or instrumentalities for the administration of public affairs. This is distinguished from REMEDIAL LAW which prescribes the method of enforcing those rights and obligations created by substantive law for obtaining redress for their invasion.

C. Rule-making Power of the Supreme Court

The SC has the constitutional power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure (Sec 5(5), Art. VIII, Constitution). But this is not an absolute power, it is subject to some limitations.

1. Limitations on the rule-making power of the Supreme Court

The following are imposed by the Constitution on the rule-making power of the SC:

a. The Rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases;

b. The Rules shall be uniform for courts of the same grade; and

c. The Rules shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights (Sec. 5(5), Art. VIII, Constitution). Only the legislature can do these acts, not the SC.

2. Power of the Supreme Court to amend and suspend procedural rules

The courts have the power to relax or suspend technical or procedural rules or to except a case from their operation when compelling reasons so warrant or when the purpose of justice requires it. What constitutes good and sufficient cause that would merit suspension of the rule is discretionary upon the courts.

When a rule promulgated by the SC is not applied by the SC to a particular case, it is not a situation where the SC violates its own rules. It is a situation where the SC has promulgated a rule on that particular case only pro hac vice. This is the power of the SC to suspend the rules in the interest of justice. The SC can even not apply a particular rule.

In a case where the action of the MTC was patently null and void, the SC took cognizance of a petition for certiorari without it having to pass the RTC. The SC in this particular case did not follow a rule. What is the justification of the court? Action has to be done immediately. Only the SC can do that.

The SC has also sustained appeals filed beyond the reglementary period shown to be meritorious and the failure to file on time was with a reason that will compel the court to recognize that reason. The rules are not intended to be applied with pedantic rigor. The rules and technicalities have to give way to the interest of substantial justice. So when there is a conflict between the interest of justice and technicalities, the latter have to give way in order to give way to justice.

Reasons which would warrant the suspension of the Rules:

1. Existence of special or compelling circumstances;

2. the merits of the case;

3. a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of rules;

4. lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory; and

5. the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.

Compliance with the rules is the general rule, and abandonment thereof should only be done in the most exceptional circumstances.

Power to amend the rules. The SC has the power to amend, repeal or even establish new rules for a more simplified and inexpensive process, and the speedy disposition of cases. The constitutional power of the SC to promulgate rules of practice and procedure and to amend or repeal the same necessarily carries with it the power to overturn judicial precedents on points of remedial law through the amendment of the ROC.

The ROC are to be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition of every action or proceeding.

D. Nature of Philippine Courts

Philippine courts are both courts of law and equity. Hence, both legal and equitable jurisdiction is dispensed with in the same tribunal.

1. Meaning of a court

Referred to here is the court as a public office, an office under the judiciary. It is tasked with the primary purpose of resolving controversies among individuals, and also tasked with enforcement of the procedures for defending the State against disorder like in criminal prosecution.

A court itself does not actually physically exist. The courtroom does. A court exists because of legal fiction.

2. Court as distinguished from a judge

It is a court which has jurisdiction over cases. A judge has no jurisdiction. While a court is an office, the officer that presides over a court is called a judge. A judge is a physical actual being while a court is a creation of law. A judge may die but a court remains.

3. Classification of Philippine courts

4. Courts of original and appellate jurisdiction

Original jurisdiction is where a case is filed first.

The MTC has original jurisdiction. Does the CA also have original jurisdiction? Yes. There are cases which are filed in the CA for the first time. Does the SC also have original jurisdiction? Yes.

Appellate jurisdiction is the authority to review, revise, reverse or modify decisions of a lower court. The MTC has no appellate jurisdiction.

5. Courts of general and special jurisdiction

Courts normally have jurisdiction given to them by law. But there are some courts which even if not specifically given could be within the jurisdiction of that court.

The RTC is a court of general jurisdiction. If there is no law which confers jurisdiction over a subject matter to any particular court, it is now assumed automatically under BP 129 that it will go to the RTC because it is a court of general jurisdiction.

The MTC, CA, and SC are not courts of general jurisdiction. They exercise a special jurisdiction. They only exercise jurisdiction over subject matters conferred directly to them by law.

6. Constitutional and statutory courts

Statutory courts are courts created by law, by statute or other specific laws other then the fundamental law. Those laws are authorized by the Constitution. There is only 1 court created directly by the Constitution, the SC.

The Sandiganbayan is not constitutional court because it is not directly created by the constitution; it is a constitutionally-mandated court. As early as the 1973 Constitution directed an order to create the Sandiganbayan.

7. Courts of law and equity

Philippine courts exercise 2 general types of jurisdiction; the legal and the equity jurisdiction. That means that Philippine courts are not only courts of law but also courts of equity.

Courts of equity decide a case not in relation to a particular statutory provision. Courts of equity decide a case on the basis of the natural concept of what is just and what is fair because human beings have natural concepts of what is right and what is wrong even if we have not gone to school.

There is one principle we have to remember. The courts are not authorized to apply the rules or laws on equity if there is a specific statutory provision. Equity is not supposed to come in if there is a law applicable to certain state of facts. No matter how harsh the law is, if there is a law, the court will have to apply the law. If there is no law, that’s the time that courts go to the laws on equity.

Reyes vs. Lim, August 11, 2003: This was about an agreement to sell a land. Actually it was a conditional sale. The buyer gave a hefty down payment of P10 million because it involved a parcel of land with a prime location in Pasay City. He noticed that the seller really had no intention to go on with the sale. He filed alternatively an action to rescind or to annul the contract. During the pendency of the case, he asked the court to require the defendant seller to deposit in court the P10 million he already gave as down payment because he noticed that the seller is engaged in some activities which made him to believe that the guy was squandering the money he gave as earnest money. If the contract is annulled or rescinded, there is then an obligation for the obligee to make restitution, and the buyer fears that there will be no more money to return. The defendant said that the plaintiff in effect is asking for a provisional remedy that is not found in the rules. The SC said there is a vacuum in the law, and there is a need to protect the right of the plaintiff should he win. And so the court allowed a deposit as a provisional remedy pro hac vice only on that particular case using its equity jurisdiction.

8. Principle of Judicial Hierarchy

This principle arises in case of concurrent jurisdiction. Meaning there are cases cognizable by 1 court and another court or courts authorized by law; there are several courts authorized by law to take cognizance over a case. In petitions for a writ of amparo, there is concurrent jurisdiction between the RTC, CA, SC and even the Sandiganbayan.

Our courts follow the so-called ladderized procedure. If you could file it in the lowest court, then file it there first. You must have a compelling reason for filing it in a higher court than in a lower court. This is judicial hierarchy, a general rule which may be disregarded sometimes.

9. Doctrine of non-interference or doctrine of judicial stability

A court cannot issue an order against a co-equal court. An RTC cannot enjoin the acts of another RTC. This is to promote the doctrine of stability. This is also applied to certain quasi-judicial agencies. The RTC cannot enjoin the SEC because they have equal ranks. Go to the CA by way of Rule 43.


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