Dean Riano Lectures on Remedial Laws, Part II
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Transcribed Baste Lectures Part II
A. Jurisdiction over the parties
1. How jurisdiction over the plaintiff is acquired
An original plaintiff may sometimes become a defendant in the same case. And an original defendant may become a plaintiff in the same case. For example, OP filed a claim against OD. Then OD filed a counterclaim against OP. OD becomes a plaintiff in the counterclaim and OP becomes a defendant.
The filing of the complaint by the plaintiff vests upon the court jurisdiction upon his person.
2. How jurisdiction over the defendant is acquired?
A true defendant is whom relief is directly sought against. A defendant in name only is the not a true defendant. Therefore, you do not need jurisdiction over the person of every defendant in all cases. You only need the jurisdiction over the person of the defendant when the action is in personam. And this is mandatory. We did not say personal action, it is different from action in personam.
In actions in rem and quasi in rem, technically there are no defendants although some persons may be named. You only need jurisdiction over the thing or res, which is either a thing or a status of a person.
An action in rem is an action against the whole world addressed to no one in particular. For example, in a probate proceeding the heirs are mentioned because they have interests in the estate but the court needs jurisdiction over the estate only. It is an action in rem.
An annulment of marriage or declaration of nullity is also an action in rem. The parties are only incidental to the action. A cadastral case is also an action in rem.
An injunction and an action for unlawful detainer and for forcible entry are actions in personam.
An action involving the status of an individual is an action in rem. But there is an action about the status of an individual which is not an action in rem but in personam- an action for compulsory recognition of a child.
There are other actions called quasi in rem. There is a specific individual who is interested in a property but it’s actually the property which is the focal point of the suit. For instance, foreclosure of a mortgage, an action quasi in rem. A proceeding for preliminary attachment is a proceeding quasi in rem. Accounting of funds is also quasi in rem.
These are jurisprudential examples coming from the Bar exams.
So when talking about jurisdiction over the person of the defendant, we are talking only of actions in personam where such jurisdiction is mandatory.
When there is voluntary appearance, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is acquired even without service of summons or upon a summons invalidly served. It is found in Sec. 20 Rule 14. Master this!
Sec. 20 – The defendant’s voluntary appearance in the action shall be equivalent to service of summons. The inclusion in a motion to dismiss of other grounds aside from lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant shall not be deemed a voluntary appearance.
Voluntary appearance is equivalent to service of summons (1st sentence of Sec. 20).
What is the defendant’s 1st opportunity to question the court’s jurisdiction over his person? Motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over his person. Adding other grounds to the motion to dismiss is not considered voluntary appearance as opposed to the old rule. You can add as many defenses.
B. Jurisdiction over the subject matter
1. Meaning of jurisdiction over the subject matter
The subject matter refers to the class to which the case belongs. For example, forcible entry and unlawful detainer; actions of incapable of pecuniary estimation; admiralty cases; these are classes.
The Filing of a complaint vests jurisdiction upon the court with respect to the person of the plaintiff.
Bar: the plaintiff was abroad, his counsel filed the complaint. The defendant moved to dismiss on the ground that the court has no jurisdiction over the complainant because the is not in the Philippines. Defendant is wrong: jurisdiction is not acquired through his personal presence in court to file the complaint. Jurisdiction on his person is acquired by the filing of the complaint in his name and under his authority. Jurisdiction was acquired by virtue of the complaint filed in court.
2. Jurisdiction versus the exercise of jurisdiction
When the question speaks about jurisdiction vs. the exercise of jurisdiction, it means jurisdiction over the subject matter.
Jurisdiction is the power or authority belonging to the court. When the court acts according to such authority, that action in accordance with such authority is an exercise of jurisdiction. A court has jurisdiction over an UD case; when it receives the complaint and acts in accordance with such authority to take cognizance over such UD case, its action falls under the concept of exercise of jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction is static, the exercise is active. To be valid, the exercise of jurisdiction must be based on jurisdiction. An exercise of jurisdiction without jurisdiction is not a valid act. The court is acting without jurisdiction.
3. Error of jurisdiction as distinguished from error of judgment
When the court is exercising jurisdiction without jurisdiction, there is an error called error of jurisdiction. It is a grievous error; it strikes at the very action of the court. It is reviewable by certiorari (Rule 65).
When the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter, and the manner of the exercise of that jurisdiction has been found out to be erroneous, it is an error of judgment correctible by appeal (Rule 45). It involves errors in the appreciation of the facts and evidences. It could ripen into a valid judgment if not questioned in a proper proceeding like appeal because it is not a void judgment. It needs to be questioned. If there is a remedy of appeal, do not use certiorari.
4. How jurisdiction is conferred and determined
Jurisdiction is conferred by law. It cannot be conferred by the agreement of the parties or of the approval of the court. Good faith of the judge does not confer jurisdiction. Neither can estoppel confer jurisdiction; it will only prevent you from questioning jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint, not the title of the case. Sometimes the title of the complaint and the allegations are in conflict. The allegations prevail.
Pay and vacate -> unlawful detainer (MTC)
Pay or vacate -> action for a sum of money (depends upon the amount)
Comply with the conditions of the lease and to vacate -> UD (MTC)
Comply or vacate -> specific performance (RTC)
UD: there is a need to demand to vacate
FE: no such need
Can the parties to a case agree for their convenience and for the convenience of the court that the RTC will try a forcible entry case? No.
The court will not rely on the title of the complaint. It has to read the complaint and determine the allegations on the complaint.
It is the plaintiff, in effect, that determines jurisdiction thru his allegations. The allegations of the defendant will not determine jurisdiction.
If the amount of the claim is 1 million, jurisdiction will go to the RTC and the court cannot dismiss it if in the course of the trial it was convincingly established that only 100,000 is due to the plaintiff. In this case, the court will render judgment only for 100,000 in favor of the plaintiff, but the court should not dismiss the complaint.
5. Doctrine of primary jurisdiction
There are cases which the court will not handle at first because jurisdiction belongs to an administrative or quasi judicial agency. For example tenancy (DARAB), agrarian reform case (DAR), rates for electricity (Energy Dept.)
6. Doctrine of adherence of jurisdiction (the doctrine of continuity of jurisdiction)
Once the court acquires jurisdiction by virtue of a valid complaint, that jurisdiction shall continue up to the end of the case. Intervening facts will not deprive the courts of jurisdiction.
Suppose an action for a sum of money, 1 million, was filed in the RTC. During the trial of the case it was convincingly established that the liability of the defendant was only 100, 000 cognizable at first instance by the MTC. Can the defendant move to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction? No, the court already acquired jurisdiction by virtue of the allegations of a valid complaint. Its jurisdiction will not be ousted by contrary evidence. The court should continue with the case and render judgment for 100, 000. This is adherence of jurisdiction doctrine.
Even the existence of a new law will not divest the court of jurisdiction already acquired unless the law itself orders that such court be divested of jurisdiction.
There was this official of the government with a salary range of grade 27, he was sued in the Sandiganbayan, and while the case was pending he resigned from office and said that the SB no longer had jurisdiction over him in lieu of his resignation. He was wrong. Jurisdiction has already attached and once attached it shall continue until the end of the proceedings by virtue of the doctrine of adherence.
7. Objections to jurisdiction over the subject matter
The court may on its own initiative object to an erroneous jurisdiction and may ex mero motu take cognizance of lack of jurisdiction at any point in the case and has a clearly recognized right to determine its own jurisdiction. The court’s authority however is only to dismiss the complaint and not to make any other order like forwarding the case to the proper court.
8. Effect of estoppel on objections to jurisdiction
Estoppel does not confer jurisdiction. It will only prevent you from questioning the lack of jurisdiction. The ancient case of Tijam vs. Sibunghanoy is the perfect example of estoppel by latches, as used in that case. One litigant in that case knew that the court has no jurisdiction over the case beforehand; when the case was dragging 15 years and he realized he was losing the case only then did he question the court’s jurisdiction. The SC said he was gambling on the results of the litigation; estoppel by latches was born and he was precluded from questioning the jurisdiction of the court. The jurisdiction of the court was left untouched. But estoppel is not the GR, it should be applied only in cases strictly analogous to Tijam vs. Sibunghanoy. The rule still is: the lack of jurisdiction can be questioned in any stage of the proceeding even for the first time on appeal. This is the general rule established in Calimlim vs. Ramirez.
C. Jurisdiction over the issues
When is an issue created? 1. When a material allegation is specifically denied an issue is created. Then the court has a reason for trial to determine which interpretation is right, to determine who is telling the truth. A material allegation not specifically denied is deemed admitted and there is no issue.
If the issue on a case is possession, the court has no jurisdiction to render judgment on ownership. If the only issue is ownership without the parties talking about possession, the court cannot motu proprio include possession in its judgment. To rule on possession would be to do so without jurisdiction on the issue.
To have an issue, a denial must be specific. Memorize Sec. 10 of Rule 8.
A defendant must specify each material allegation of fact the truth of which he does not admit and, whenever practicable, shall set forth the substance of the matters upon which he relies to support his denial. Where a defendant desires to deny only a part of an averment, he shall specify so much of it as is true and material and shall deny only the remainder. Where a defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of a material averment made in the complaint, he shall so state, and this shall have the effect of a denial.
If the provisions above are not followed, you are making a general denial even if you are denying and what is the effect of a general denial? It is an admission. Failure to follow the denials mandated in Sec. 10 would render it no longer specific but general. There are 3 types of denials specified.
Blanket denial or general denial where the defendant denies all the allegations of all the paragraphs in the complaint; it is deemed an admission.
When you deny, deny every paragraph, every allegation of the complaint or of the pleading.
Suppose that par(4) of the complaint alleged that the defendant borrowed 1 million from the plaintiff. The first way of denying it is mentioning the paragraph where it is alleged. Deny it by saying that you never borrowed money from the plaintiff. The truth of the matter being that it was a donation. It is an absolute denial of the allegation. Another way is saying that “I admit I borrowed 1 million but the due date is till 5 years from now so it is not yet due.” You admit it but by way of avoidance you say something by way of a defense. The third way is to say that you have no sufficient knowledge of the debt. This is a disavowal that must be done in good faith because it is equivalent to admission if done in bad faith as a penalty for such bad faith. Memorize this concept. Be familiar with the words and the meanings of the words.
The pleadings actually will tell us the issues of the case. They will tell the controverted matters meaning those which are denied. 2. When the opposing counsel offers evidence not within the issue of the case, you object. You cannot object if you do not know the issues of the case. But sometimes there are issues being created not because of the pleading but because evidence on a matter was offered in court that was not objected to, it is as if an issue was created by the consent of the parties even if it is not in the pleadings. Sec. 5 of Rule 10. If an issue was tried with the express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings. This has been the subject of many bar exams.
Suppose an evidence for ownership was presented in a case for possession. If it is not objected to, the court will treat the same as if raised in the pleadings and the court may now rule on the issue of ownership as well. This is the concept of implied amendment of the pleading.
Bar: There was an action to collect a sum of money. The plaintiff in the complaint did not even state that he made a prior demand for payment. If there is no prior demand, there is a failure to state a cause of action because as a rule no demand, no delay unless the exceptions of 1169 apply. During the trial of the case, the plaintiff presented in evidence exhibit A, a written extrajudicial demand to pay. The defendant did not object to that. Can the court admit exhibit A in evidence? Yes. There was no objection, it is as if the issue of a demand has been tried by the parties impliedly and it is as if the pleadings included a demand. What can the other party do? He can move to amend the pleading to incorporate the evidence in the pleading. Suppose the party did not do so, can the court still try to include the admission of exhibit A? Yes, as if it is raised in the pleading.
Bar: An action for ejectment did not mention a demand to vacate. During the trial there was offer of evidence of a demand to vacate. Can the pleading be amended to conform to the evidence? Yes. There was no objection from the defendant. Dean is of the opinion that the question was wrong as there is no trial in an ejectment case the same being a summary procedure.
The question should be this was. The demand was for a debt of 2 million. If the plaintiff offers evidence for 3 million, which the defendant did not object to, then the evidence was admitted. Can the court admit the evidence? Yes because the court cannot motu proprio object in behalf of the defendant. Inadmissible evidence will be admitted because of waiver and that waiver is because of the failure to object. Inadmissibility can be waived by the failure to object. Can the court consider the 3 million? Yes, it is as if it was raised in the pleading which is deemed amended. So, as the counsel for defendant, object as to the excess of 2 million because the issue is only 2 million. Remember this concept!
Advice: offer evidence not in issue in the pleadings because the adverse party may not object to it and so such evidence may be admitted by the court. This doctrine however is not applicable to a criminal proceeding. This rule has been incorporated in the rules of criminal procedure effective December 2000, Sections 8 and 9 in Rule 110. The life and liberty of an accused is not made to depend upon the skill of his counsel to object.
Sometimes issues could be created not because of the pleadings or on the failure to object. 3. It could be created by stipulations like in the pre-trial conference where parties limit the issues. And sometimes even during the trial the parties could already agree on the issues to be tried. Agreement could also create issues.
Sec. 6 of Art. 30 – The parties to any action may agree, in writing, upon the facts involved in the litigation, and submit the case for judgment on the facts agreed upon, without the introduction of evidence.
If the parties agree only on some of the facts in issue, the trial shall be held as to the disputed facts in such order as the court shall prescribe.
In sum, jurisdiction over the issue can be obtained thru specific denial, failure to object to new evidence, and by agreement of the parties.
D. Jurisdiction over the res or property in litigation
This jurisdiction is mandatory in actions in rem and quasi in rem because the object of these actions is the thing which could either be a property or the status of the parties. The court acquires jurisdiction upon the thing or the res depending on the nature of the case. For instance, in an action for a sum of money there is yet no jurisdiction over the property, but if you apply for a writ of preliminary attachment and such writ is issued by the court, the court now acquires jurisdiction over the property of the defendant which is now in custodia legis. The court acquires jurisdiction over the res. But there are cases where jurisdiction over the res is acquired by simply filing of the proper complaint. For instance, when you file an action to foreclose a real estate mortgage with the proper allegations in the complaint, then the court will acquire jurisdiction over that thing. Now if it is a foreclosure of a chattel mortgage, then the court will acquire jurisdiction over the property if replevin or attachment of the property is made.
So jurisdiction over the res or the property is mandatory and very important in an accion in rem and in quasi in rem. While jurisdiction over the defendant is mandatory in an action in personam. Do not forget this because this is very relevant when we talk about summons.