Basic Q&A on the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases

The Supreme Court approved, through A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC dated 9 September 2008, the proposed “The Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases” (see full text). Here’s the basic primer or discussion on the new procedure.

What is the scope and applicabilty of the Rule?

It covers cases at the MTC where the value of the claim does not exceed P100,000.00, exclusive of interest and costs. It applies in all actions which are: (a) purely civil in nature where the claim or relief prayed for by the plaintiff is solely for payment or reimbursement of sum of money, and (b) 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. These claims or demands may be:

  1. For money owed under any of the following contracts: Lease, Loan, Services, Sale, or Mortgage.
  2. For damages arising from: Fault or negligence, Quasi-contract, or Contract
  3. 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.

Am I required to pay filing fees?

Unless allowed to litigate as an indigent, you have to pay the regular filing fees. In any case, even when declared an indigent, you MUST pay the P1,000.00 fee for service of summons and processes in civil cases.

How to I apply as an indigent litigant?

The proper motion must be filed (click here for the requirements). If the motion is denied, you have 5 days within which to pay the docket fees, otherwise the case will be dismissed.

Are lawyers allowed to appear?

No attorney shall appear in behalf of or represent a party at the hearing, unless the attorney is the plaintiff or defendant.

What is the general flow of the procedure?

1. Commencement. A small claims action is commenced by filing with the court an accomplished and verified Statement of Claim in duplicate, accompanied by a Certification of Non-forum Shopping, and 2 duly certified photocopies of the actionable document/s subject of the claim, as well as the affidavits of witnesses and other evidence to support the claim. When requested, the Clerk of Court or other court personnel shall provide assistance regarding the availability of forms and other information about the coverage, requirements as well as procedure for small claims cases.

2. Examination by the court. 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. If no ground for dismissal is found, the court shall issue: (a) Summons on the day of receipt of the Statement of Claim, directing the defendant to submit a verified Response; and (b) Notice to both parties, directing them to appear before it on a specific date and time for hearing, with a warning that no unjustified postponement shall be allowed.

3. Response. The defendant shall file with the court and serve on the plaintiff a duly accomplished and verified Response (affidavits of witnesses and other evidence in its support) within a non-extendible period of 10 days from receipt of summons. In case of faulure to file a Response, the court by itself shall render judgment as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the Statement of Claim limited to what is prayed for.

4. Hearing. The parties or their duly-appointed representatives shall appear at the designated date of hearing. Failure of the plaintiff to appear shall be cause for the dismissal of the claim without prejudice and the award of permissive counterclaims in favor of the defendant who is present. Failure of the defendant to appear has the same effect as the failure to file a Response.

5. Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR). At the hearing, the judge shall conduct JDR through mediation, conciliation, early neutral evaluation, or any other mode of JDR. If JDR fails and the parties agree in writing that the hearing of the case shall be presided over by the judge who conducted the JDR, the hearing shall so proceed in an informal and expeditious manner and terminated within 1 day. Absent such agreement, the case shall, on the same day, be referred to the pairing judge for hearing and decision within 5 working days from referral.

6. Decision. After the hearing, the court shall render its decision on the same day. The decision shall be final and unappealable.

What is the date of effectivity of this Rule?

The Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases took effect on October 1, 2008 for the pilot courts designated to apply the procedure for small claims cases following its publication in two newspapers of general circulation.

7 thoughts on “Basic Q&A on the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases

  1. chinoy

    Dear Atty. Fred,

    On the applicability of Rule of Procedure for Small Claims, is it retroactive or prospective? Do existing claims prior to October 2008 apply to the said procedure?, If not, what is the legal recourse of a ‘defendant’ being harassed by collecting agents?

    Thanks and best regards.

    Chinoy

    Reply
  2. safrabay

    This site is very relevant to cooperatives like us. Now my question, Attorney: The CoC of MCTC in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur is charging us additional P500.00 for each individual we submit for “small claims cases (aside from P1,000.00 fee for service of summons and processes in civil cases + P200.00 they said for the server’s expenses). P1,200.00 is ok with us, it doesn’t matter. We have already submitted 1 case and that was decided instantly, thanks to our efficient judge here (we paid P1,200.00). But when we submit another 5 cases this early we were asked by the court’s CoC that we pay an additional P500.00 each for Mediation Fund? Is this new?

    Thanks.

    safrabay

    Reply
  3. huertasromeo

    Dear Atty. Fred,

    My query is relative to Chinoy’s response/comment posted last Aug. 19th, 2009 at 2:24 a.m.. My accoutn for collection as per RCBC, through the DOMINGO & MOLAER Law Offices is P106,645.26. Which I believe already includes, the penalties, interests, other charges which would make my account just hovering a little less of P20,000.00 considering that payment was stopped around late nineties or early 2000.
    Is my case considered as A Small Claim Case? And can my wife be a mandatory party-defendant in the Sum of Money Case pursuant to Rule 3, Sec. 4 of the New Rules of Court as cited by the collecting agent?
    Whew, I thought, this was solved already after I wrote a letter for compassion and understanding to Amb. Alfredo Yuchengco of RCBC last 2004 or 2005. And after how many years, here comes another collecting agent.

    Reply
  4. plaintiff

    How will the court decide on cases wherein the defendant chooses not to appear or respond to summons? How will the plaintiff get his claims then?

    Reply
  5. curiouscase

    Hi Atty,

    If there is already a scheduled court hearing, can the defendant still pay for the required amount/money owed even prior to going to the hearing and request for the case to be dropped?

    Please advise.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  6. Len

    Hi Atty.,

    We had a client who did not pay his balance.
    He signed a document from us that he will pay for it.
    We were still able to reach him over the phone for a follow up, after he signed the document until one day his number is no longer active.

    We sent him several letters (SOA – Statement of Account) and it was always delivered back to our office.

    We already visited his house to personally check on him and to collect the balance, but he’s no longer there and his neighbor said he’s already overseas.

    Hope to hear an advice from you, as we are planning to file a case against him.

    More power and God bless!

    Len

    Reply
  7. Perlita

    Ako po ay umattend ng hearing 30 minutes earliear, subalit hindi po lumalabas ang judge at ang mga mga representative po ng aking pinagkakautangan ay nakikipagcompromise sa ibang may pagkakautang, pinili ko pong mag antay na lumabas ang judge dahil gusto kong pakiusap dahil hindi ko kaya ang gustong compromise ng akin pinagkakautangan, after 30 minutes po ako po ay lumabas para bumuli ng tubig sa kadahilanang nagdidilim na ang aking paningin at hindi parin po lumalabas ang judge na nakaassigned sa amin, subalit pagbalik ko at nagtanong kung hindi pa po ba lalabas ang judge at sinabihan ako na tapos na at naisulat na sa minutes na hindi ako dumating, ipinaliwanag ko na maaga akong dumating at nag aantay na lumabas ang judge at mag umpisa, sinabihan po ako na dapat ay lumapit ako para pumirma na naroroon ako. nakiusap ako na pipirma ako ngunit ang pinalagay ay oras kung saan tapos na ang hearing at sinabihan na kausapin ko nalang ang aking pinagkakautangan, sinubukan kong makiusap sa pinagkakautangan ko subalit sinabihan ako na aantayin nalang nila ang desisyon ng korte pabor sa kanila dahilan sa hindi ko pagdating sa hearing. kinabukasan ako po ay tumawag at muling nakiusap sa korte at sinabihan ako na gumawa ako ng liham para sa nangyari nung araw na yun. kasalukuyan ko pong inaantay ang magiging resulta sa aking ginawang liham. Ano po ang dapat kong gawin? tuluyan po bang maaaward sa pinagkakautangan ko ang kaso? tulungan nyo po sana ako. Maraming salamat po.

    Reply

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