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