[See also: Face-to-Face Trial, Training Video]
Office of the Chief Justice
FROM THE DESK OF:
ATTY. MA. LOURDES E.B. OLIVEROS
Chief Justice Staff Head
Office of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno
11 August 2014
ATTY. ENRIQUETA ESGUERRA-VIDAL
Clerk of Court
Dear Atty. Vidal:
Pursuant to the 18 March 2014 Resolution of the Court en banc in A.M. No. 14- 03-02-SC and the Memorandum of the Office of the Court Administrator dated 5 August 2014 providing a list of courts to pilot test Rules 22 and 24 of the proposed Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, we request for the “[p]ublication of Rules 22 and 24 of the proposed Revised Rules of Civil Procedure in a newspaper of general circulation at least 6 months before the start of their actual piloting in the selected stations,” as attached.
Thank you for your usual prompt attention.
cc: HON. JOSE MIDAS P. MARQUEZ
Office of the Court Administrator
Very truly yours,
MA. LOURDES E.B. OLIVEROS
ANNOUNCING THE PILOTING OF
A NEW SYSTEM FOR SPEEDY COURT TRIAL
The Supreme Court has approved by Resolution A.M. 14-03-02-SC dated March 8, 2014 the piloting of Rules 22 and 24 of the draft Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, reproduced below. These Rules shall, beginning February 16, 2015, apply to all civil actions in the following first and second level courts that have not yet undergone pre- trial:
a. Regional Trial Courts: Branches 77, 78, 81, 84, 89, 90, 92, 93, 97, 100, 218 and 225
b. Metropolitan Trial Courts: Branches 31, 36, 38 and 42
a. Regional Trial Courts: Branches 57, 58, 60, 62, 133, 134, 136, 137, 142 and 149
b. Metropolitan Trial Courts: Branches 61 and 67
a. Regional Trial Courts: Branches 56 and 57
b. Metropolitan Trial Courts: Branch 2
a. Regional Trial Courts: Branches 27, 28, 29, 37 and 39
b. Metropolitan Trial Courts: Branches 6, 8 and 10
a. Regional Trial Courts: Branches 10, 12 and 16
b. Metropolitan Trial Courts: Branches 1 and 4
a. Regional Trial Courts: Branches 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 22 and 24
b. Metropolitan Trial Courts: Branches 6 and 7
SECTION 22.1. Policy of the Rule. — It is the policy of this Rule in relation to the Rule on Trial of issues to:
(a) Require the parties to make a full disclosure of the known facts of the case early in the proceedings and submit to the court the affidavits and documents that prove their claims, for the purpose of enabling the court to accurately identify the issues between the parties and facilitate the process of settling their disputes amicably or, if this is not possible, to considerably limit the scope of trial;
(b) Treat litigations not as a contest pitting the resources and skills of the parties in building up their cases and destroying those of the others, but as a collective effort of all to search for the truth and to render justice to all;
(c) Empower the judge to take a direct role in examining the witnesses during the trial and elicit from them the answers needed for rendering a just judgment;
(d) Make maximum use of the court’s time and shorten trial without sacrificing the quality of hearing and adjudication;
(e) Require the parties and their counsels to assist the court in doing work they can properly perform to enable the judge to do his judicial duties with greater dispatch and efficiency; and
(f) Raise the level of professionalism of judges and counsels in terms of promptness in starting court proceedings and meeting deadlines.
SEC. 22.2. Mandatory disclosure of evidence. — If the parties do not settle their disputes during the JDR [Judicial Dispute Resolution stage], the case shall be raffled to a different branch for further proceedings. The parties may, however, instead file a joint written motion or manifestation requesting the court that concluded the JDR to continue with the case. In either case, the parties shall then submit to the court and disclose to each other the evidence in the case that are known and available to them in the following manner:
(a) The court shall, motu proprio or on motion, give notice to the parties to simultaneously submit to the court within thirty (30) days from notice and serve upon each other, the following:
1. The judicial affidavits of their witnesses in support of their allegations, which shall take the place of such witnesses’ direct testimonies; and
2. The parties’ documentary or object evidence, if any, which shall be attached to the judicial affidavits, identified and marked as Exhibits P, P-1, P-2, and so on in the case of the plaintiff or petitioner, Exhibits C, C-1, C-2, and so on in the case of the complainant, Exhibits D, D-1, D-2, and so on in the case of the defendant, Exhibits R, R-1, R-2, and so on in the case of the respondent, and duly identified and authenticated by the proper witness or witnesses.
(b) A party may, if he or she so desires, submit reply judicial affidavits respecting matters not touched by his or her initial affidavits within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the adverse party’s judicial affidavits. No further judicial affidavit may be submitted without prior leave of court which shall be granted only on justifiable grounds.
(c) Should a party or a witness desire to retain possession of the original document or object evidence, he or she may, after it has been identified, marked as exhibit, and authenticated, warrant in his or her judicial affidavit that the copy, reproduction, or picture attached to such affidavit is a faithful copy, reproduction, or picture of the original. In addition, the party or witness shall bring to court the original document or object evidence to enable the adverse party to compare the original document with its copy or reproduction or the object evidence with its picture. The comparison shall be done by the adverse party before the branch clerk of court prior to the date of the preliminary conference. The comparison shall then be duly noted by the branch clerk of court on the attached copy, reproduction, or picture before the date of the preliminary conference. Unless the comparison is done or deemed waived by the non- appearance of the adverse party, the copy attached to the judicial affidavit shall not be admitted.
(d) If the requested witness, who is neither the witness of the adverse party nor a hostile witness, unjustifiably declines to execute a judicial affidavit or refuses without just cause to make the relevant books, documents, or other things under his or her control available for copying, authentication, and eventual production in court, the requesting party may avail himself or herself of a subpoena ad testificandum or duces tecum under the Rules of Court. The party requesting the issuance of a subpoena shall be responsible for ensuring its personal service upon the witness, and shall bear the cost of such personal service and the expenses of the witness in appearing before the lawyer who will prepare or supervise the preparation of his or her judicial affidavit.
(e) A party who fails to submit the required judicial affidavits and exhibits when they are due shall be deemed to have waived such submission and the right to present evidence in support of his or her case. Still, the court may, for good cause shown and not later than fifteen (15) days from receipt of the adverse party’s judicial affidavits and exhibits, allow but once the late submission of the requirements. It may also, if no good cause is shown, still allow such late submission but once, provided that the defaulting party or his or her counsels, whoever may appear at fault, pays a fine set by the court which shall not be less than P1,000.00 or more than P5,000.00.
(f) If a vital witness is (1) outside the Philippines, or (2) is shown to be under an exceptional or compelling predicament at the time his or her judicial affidavit is needed for submission, the counsel may, with leave of court, prepare such affidavit through video conferencing and submit it to the court with the counsel’s attestation regarding its authenticity, conditioned on the witness appearing at the hearing to sign it, affirm its truth, and submit to an examination by the court and the parties.
(g) The court may, on motion, allow a witness who, because of exceptional and compelling reasons, has been unable to execute a judicial affidavit to testify in court by way of a narration of what he or she needs to relate in relation to the case which shall be restricted to relevant facts, provided that the motion is filed within the period for submission of judicial affidavits and the movant states in the motion the substance of the testimony of such witness. This shall include government employees or officials who are unable to execute judicial affidavits by reason of the demands of their official work.
(h) In case a party submits judicial affidavits that do not conform to the content requirements, the court shall issue an order excluding such affidavits from the record. The court may, however, allow but once and for good cause shown the subsequent submission of the compliant replacement affidavits within ten days from receipt of the exclusion order. If no good cause is shown, the court may still allow such subsequent submission provided that the erring party or his or her counsels, whoever may appear responsible for their preparation and submission, pays a fine set by the court which shall not be less than P1,000.00 or more than P5,000.00.
(i) The direct testimony of a witness shall be deemed offered and admitted upon submission in court of his or her judicial affidavit, subject to motions for exclusion of inadmissible testimonies at the appropriate time and to the examination of such witness. The documents and object evidence that the parties previously marked as their exhibits shall also be deemed offered and admitted upon their submission in court as part of the testimony of the witness who testifies on their existence, execution, or functions for the purposes that such testimony indicates, whether expressly or impliedly, subject to motions for exclusion at the appropriate time and to the examination of the witness.
SEC. 22.3. Use of certain discovery procedures. — A party who desires to avail himself or herself of the modes of discovery shall do so in accordance with Rules 27 to 31. Such party shall take steps to complete the process and submit the material portions of the record of the proceedings, previously undisclosed documents or facts, and the necessary judicial affidavits pertaining to the fruits of the discovery within sixty (60) days from the start of the discovery process.
SEC. 22.4. Preparation of the Terms of Reference. — The Court shall, taking into account the submissions of the parties and counsels, prepare the Terms of Reference of the case that will control the scope of trial.
(a) After the parties shall have submitted their respective judicial affidavits, documentary and object exhibits, and the results of the discovery procedures they have undertaken, the court shall issue an order requiring each party through their respective counsels as officers of the court, to simultaneously submit to it and serve on the other party within fifteen (15) days from notice a brief, concise, and fair draft of the Terms of Reference of the case, containing:
1. A summary of the admitted facts;
2. A statement that the documents attached to judicial affidavits or object evidence referred to are faithful copies, reproductions, or pictures of their originals if such be the case;
3. A summary of the totality of the facts that the plaintiff’s evidence appears to have established;
4. A summary of the totality of the facts that the defendant’s evidence appears to have established;
5. Based on the two summaries above, a statement of the factual issue or issues that the conflicting evidence of the parties present;
6. A list of the witnesses from either side who, based on their judicial affidavits and exhibits, are competent to testify on each of the factual issues or related factual issues in the case; and
7. A statement of the legal issues that the case presents once the factual issues and related factual issues have been resolved.
(b) An issue is factual when the contending parties cannot agree that a thing exists or has actually happened. An issue is legal when the contending parties assume a thing exists or has actually happened but disagree on its legal significance or effect on their rights or obligations.
(c) Only relevant and significant issues need be tried. An issue is relevant and significant when its resolution will help decide the case on its merits. Otherwise, it is irrelevant and need not be tried.
(d) Every factual issue should be adequately stated. The statement of an issue is adequate when it contains words describing the ultimate facts that the party bearing the burden of proving the affirmative of such issue must establish by his or her evidence.
(e) The facts alleged by the parties in their complaint, answer, and judicial affidavits, when not put in issue in the Terms of Reference, shall be deemed admitted or otherwise regarded as irrelevant to the resolution of the dispute.
(f) If a party’s counsel fails to submit his or her draft of the Terms of Reference, he or she shall be deemed to have waived the submission of such draft, without prejudice to appropriate sanctions for failure to comply with the order of the court.
(g) Within fifteen (15) days of its receipt of the drafts of the Terms of Reference, or after the lapse of the period to submit such drafts, the court shall prepare its final version, taking such drafts into account. (n)
SEC. 22.5. Notice of Preliminary Conference. — The branch clerk of court shall, through phone calls and electronic messages, consult the parties, through their counsels, on their availability before setting the case for preliminary conference. In addition, the branch clerk shall serve a written notice of such conference on the parties, through their counsels, requiring the parties and their counsels to appear before the court for a preliminary conference on the date and time that it has set. It shall be the duty of the counsels to promptly inform their clients regarding the setting and the need for them to be present as well. (n)
SEC. 22.6. Appearance of parties. — It shall be the duty of the parties and their counsels to appear at the preliminary conference. A party’s non-appearance may be excused only for valid cause shown or if he or she is represented by another person who is fully authorized to act on his behalf respecting all the matters subject of the conference. (n)
SEC. 22.7. Decision as in default against absentee. — In the event a party or his counsels fails to appear at the preliminary conference, the court shall, within thirty (30) days from the date of the scheduled preliminary conference, render a decision, adjudicating the other party’s claims, if warranted, after the court’s ex parte examination of such party’s witness or witnesses based on their judicial affidavits. (n)
SEC. 22.8. Decision as in default, when set aside. — The court may, however, set aside a judgment rendered under Section 22.7 if, within fifteen (15) days from notice of the decision, the party concerned files a motion with the court with prior notice to the adverse party that his or her failure to comply with what was required of him or her has been due to extrinsic fraud or unavoidable accident. Only when the ground is clearly meritorious will the court grant the motion. The court may at its discretion, however, where the ground is not clearly meritorious, still grant the motion, set aside the decision of default, and reschedule another preliminary conference for the last time, upon admission of error or neglect by the party or his or her counsel and after payment of a fine set by the court which shall not be less than P 1,000.00 or more than P 5,000.00. (n)
SEC. 22.9. Matters to be taken up at the preliminary conference. — The court shall take the following actions during the preliminary conference in the order listed below:
(a) The court shall determine, in consultation with the parties and their counsels, if there is a need to make changes in the contents or wordings of the Terms of Reference that it earlier prepared. If there is such a need, the court shall enter the changes on the document.
(b) If a party asks the court to try an excluded issue, the court shall include it for trial provided that such party makes a deposit for court costs amounting to not less than P 10,000.00 but not more than P 50,000.00, at the discretion of the court. Should the trial court or, on appeal, a higher court find the additional issue a sham, it shall order the deposit forfeited to the court; otherwise it shall have the same refunded to the party concerned.
(c) The court may adjourn the preliminary conference once if there is a chance of settlement and the parties need time to consider the matter; otherwise, the court shall proceed with the conference.
(d) The court shall, in consultation with the parties:
1. Fix the order in which the issues are to be tried;
2. Identify the witnesses who need to be present to testify on each of the issues;
3. Set the specific dates for reception of evidence on each issue or related issues;
4. Determine whether the circumstances warrant an alternate or face-to-face trial of issues and in the latter case, whether it shall be a simple or regular trial of issues as provided below, and determine who among the witnesses are exempt from face-to-face examination;
5. Determine the need to refer certain issues to trial by commissioners; and
6. Summarize the foregoing arrangements towards the end of the preliminary conference and issue an Order of Trial, copy furnished the parties, which shall reflect such arrangements.
(e) The court may, as a result of the preliminary conference or in the course of it when the circumstances warrant, render judgment or dismiss the action. If evidence is required for adjudicating a ground for dismissal, the court shall set the case for reception of such evidence and then dismiss the action if warranted.
xxx xxx xxx
TRIAL OF ISSUES
SECTION 24.1. Alternate trial. — An alternate trial is one where parties take turns in presenting their witnesses respecting the first factual issue or related issues stated in the order of trial. The party who bears the burden of proving the affirmative of the issue under consideration shall be the first to present a witness.
SEC. 24.2. Face-to-face trial. — A face-to-face trial is one wherein witnesses from the contending sides appear together before the court, sit face-to-face around a table in a non-adversarial environment, and answer questions from the court as well as the parties’ counsels respecting the factual issue under consideration.
SEC. 24.3. Options for trying the issues. — The court shall have the option to try the issues embodied in the Terms of Reference either by alternate or face-to-face trial. In the latter case, the court may conduct either simple or regular face-to-face trial, whichever it considers more suitable. The parties may by unanimous agreement, however, choose to have an alternate trial in lieu of a face-to-face trial.
SEC. 24.4. Common rules. — The following common rules shall govern both alternate and face-to-face trials:
(a) Each factual issue shall be tried strictly in the sequence provided in the Order of Trial although two or more closely related issues may be simultaneously tried.
(b) A party may move on proper ground to disqualify a witness before he or she is examined and strike out his judicial affidavit or exclude any of the answers found in it on ground of inadmissibility. This motion shall be resolved in accordance with Sections 24.8 and 24.9 below.
(c) A party may also move to exclude any of the exhibits attached to the judicial affidavit of a witness on ground of inadmissibility. This motion shall be resolved also in accordance with Sections 24.8 and 24.9 below. The objecting party shall make his motion in writing before the trial if the exhibits are voluminous to facilitate its resolution. The rulings of the court respecting the exclusion of testimonies and exhibits based on public policy grounds shall be without prejudice to a tender of excluded evidence under the appropriate rule.
(d) The court and the counsels of the parties shall examine the witnesses and determine the truthfulness of the judicial affidavits that constitute their direct testimonies in the case.
(e) A witness may testify on one or more issues.
SEC. 24.5. Rules governing alternate trial. — In an alternate trial:
(a) The parties shall take turns in presenting their witnesses respecting the first factual issue or related issues stated in the Order of Trial.
(b) The party who bears the burden of proving the affirmative of the issue under consideration shall be the first to present a witness. If the party has more than one witness, the witnesses will be presented successively respecting such issue. The opposing party shall afterwards present the witness or witnesses for that issue.
(c) The court shall be the first to examine each of the witnesses thus presented. The parties shall then take their turns to conduct the cross, re-direct, and re-cross of the particular witness. This is without prejudice to the right of the court to ask additional questions of the same witness.
(d) The examination by the court and by the parties shall entirely focus on the issue or issues at hand and not dwell on matters outside of and totally unrelated to such issue or issues.
(e) After all the witnesses from both sides have been examined respecting the issue or related issues under consideration, the trial shall move on to the next issue or related issue in the Order of Trial until all the issues shall have been tried.
SEC. 24.6. Ground rules governing a face-to-face trial. — In a face-to-face trial:
(a) The witnesses from the contending sides shall appear together before the court and simultaneously swear to the truth of their respective testimonies.
(b) The witnesses shall sit face-to-face around the table in a non-adversarial environment and answer questions from the court and the parties’ counsels respecting the factual issue under consideration;
(c) Only one person at a time shall speak during the face-to-face trial and always with prior permission from the court which shall take steps to ensure that the person who speaks is identified for the record;
(d) The witnesses shall address their answers to the examining judge or counsels; and
(e) The witnesses shall not pose questions to the other witnesses relating to their testimonies but shall be given equal opportunity to respond to the questions.
SEC. 24.7. Two-phase examination of witnesses in a face-to-face trial. — The examination of the witnesses from the contending sides in the face-to-face trial shall consist of two phases: the first phase shall be by the court and the second phase by the parties’ respective counsels.
(a) In the first phase, the court shall examine the witnesses regarding the issue or related issues at hand in no particular sequence and may also direct its questions to one or more of the witnesses from the contending sides.
(b) When the questions from the court are directed to a specific witness, the other witnesses from the same side may seek permission to supplement, clarify, or qualify the answers that the first witness has given.
(c) In turn, the court shall give the witnesses from the other side equal time and opportunity to reply.
(d) The court may allow the witnesses from the contending sides to continue their divergent exchanges provided new facts or new arguments are introduced and the testimonies have not become repetitive.
(e) The court may also stop the exchanges if the answers from the contending sides have sufficiently clarified their positions and the points of their disagreement.
(f) The court may, before moving the examination of the witnesses from first phase to second phase, summarize its own understanding of the positions of the parties and the testimonies of their witnesses on the issue or related issues at hand.
(g) In the second phase, the court shall allow counsels from the contending sides to cross-examine, re-direct, and re-cross the witnesses based on their judicial affidavits, the attached exhibits, the answers the witnesses gave during the court’s first-phase examination, or their testimonies. This second phase examination shall be without prejudice to the court’s further examination of the witnesses already examined by counsels.
(h) Where there are multiple parties involved (the plaintiff, the defendant, the third, fourth, or fifth-party plaintiffs or defendants, or the intervenors) the court shall fix the order of cross, re-direct, and re-cross examination by the various counsels involved, making sure that a party is able to examine the witness whose testimony is adverse. A party may adopt a favorable testimony.
(i) After the counsels have concluded their examinations of the witnesses, the court shall terminate the second phase respecting the particular issue or related issues and move to the examination of the witnesses respecting the next issue or related issues if such examination is likewise in the agenda of the court for that day’s setting. The reception of evidence for the next issue or related issues may be scheduled on another setting in accordance with the Order of Trial.
SEC. 24.8. Exceptions to the court’s examination of the witnesses. — The counsel for any party may, in the course of the court’s examination of the witnesses, take exceptions to objectionable questions that it poses to one or some of them. The exceptions shall simply state the legal grounds for objection with no further explanation. The court shall act on the exceptions in the following manner:
(a) In case of exceptions as to form, such as when the questions from the court are perceived to be argumentative, leading, multiple, repetitive, vague, improper characterization, confusing, or unfair, the counsels shall state the ground for exception after the question has been answered. The court shall take note of the exception or, where warranted, strike out the answer and rephrase the question;
(b) Exceptions as to substance such as when the questions from the court are perceived to elicit answers that are inadmissible on public policy grounds including those relating to the rights against self-incrimination, privileged communication, disqualification, and to the Statute of Frauds, rape shield law, bank secrecy laws, Anti- Money Laundering Act, and other laws or rules that prohibit disclosure of information or data, may be made before the witness answers the questions. The counsels may also move to strike out any answer already given on the same grounds. In either case, the court shall promptly rule on such exceptions or motions.
(c) In case of exceptions to admissibility under the rules governing best evidence, parol evidence, conclusion or opinion evidence, hearsay evidence, irrelevant evidence, or character evidence, the counsels shall state the ground for exception after the question has been answered. The court shall take note of the exception and consider the same when deciding the case.
SEC. 24.9. Objections to the questions of counsels. — (a) It is the counsels’ duty to fairly elicit only admissible evidence from a witness, either by way of preparing the judicial affidavit constituting the direct examination or by way of cross, re-direct, or re- cross examination.
(b) The counsels for one side may move to exclude the whole or part of the testimony embodied in the judicial affidavit of a witness presented by the other side on ground of inadmissibility.
(c) Objections as to form in Section 24.8 (a) and admissibility in Section 24.8 (c) shall be made after the questions have been answered. Objections as to substance in Section 24.8 (b) may be raised before the questions are answered; if the answers have already been given, motions to strike out may be made.
(d) The court shall act on the motion or objection in the same manner it would act on exceptions from questions of the court as provided under Section 24.8 above.
SEC. 24.10. When face-to-face examination of witnesses shall not apply. — The face-to-face examination of witnesses shall not apply when one of the witnesses to the factual issue under consideration is either (a) a child covered by the Rule on Examination of a Child Witness, or (b) a person who is mentally, psychologically, or physically challenged, or has a similar condition that puts such witness at a disadvantage in a face- to-face confrontation. In such a case, the witnesses on that issue shall be examined separately. The face-to-face examination shall, however, proceed with respect to the other issues that do not involve the child or disadvantaged witness.
The face-to-face trial shall also not be required in: (a) special civil actions; (b) special proceedings; and (c) where the court perceives the danger of uncontrollable passion arising from deep animosity between the parties.
SEC. 24.11. Examination of Expert Witnesses in a face-to-face trial of issues. — The examination of expert witnesses in a face-to-face trial of issues shall follow the same procedure provided in Section 24.7 With leave of court, however, an expert witness may ask questions directed to the other party’s expert witness on any matter covered by the testimony of the latter on the issue or related issues at hand.
SEC. 24.12. Regular or summary face-to-face trial schedules. — The schedules for holding face-to-face trial of issues shall either be simple or regular based on the circumstances of each case.
(a) Where the issues are complex or numerous and the evidence from both sides consist of the testimonies of several witnesses or involve numerous pieces of evidence, the court shall hold a regular face-to-face trial, with the hearings spread over a period of time.
(b) Where the issues are simple and few, the court shall hold a simple one-time face-to-face trial, with an oral judgment rendered at the end of such trial. But if in the course of such trial, the court discovers that the issues are after all complex or numerous, it shall suspend the proceedings and direct the conduct of a regular trial in the succeeding settings.
SEC. 24.13. Memorandum, oral argument, and judgment. — The court may hear the parties argue their respective positions before rendering judgment in the case, as follows:
(a) In an alternate or regular face-to-face trial of issues:
1. The court shall, after all the issues in the case have been heard, direct the parties to simultaneously submit their respective memorandum or draft decision within thirty (30) days from the date the trial ended, accompanied by a softcopy of the document in a format acceptable to the court.
2. Furthermore, the court shall, within ten (10) days from receipt of such memorandum or draft decision, set the case for oral argument on a date and time the court and the parties may agree on.
3. The court shall render a written decision within ninety (90) days after hearing the parties on their oral argument. It may wholly or partially adopt or use the memorandum or draft decision of the winning party for its decision or prepare its own.
(b) In a simple face-to-face trial of issues:
1. The court may, immediately after all the witnesses have been examined, hear the parties briefly on oral argument and afterwards orally state its rulings on the issue or issues involved and announce the dispositive part of its judgment.
2. Such oral judgment shall be recorded in the minutes of the proceedings which, together with the resolution of each issue, shall be signed by the parties or their counsels as evidence of notification. If a party or his counsels refuses to sign, the refusal shall be reflected in the same minutes.
3. The court shall then direct the winning party to submit within thirty (30) days from the oral judgment a memorandum or draft of the decision based on the oral judgment then rendered, accompanied by softcopy of the document in a format acceptable to the court.
4. In place of oral judgment, the court shall have the option of requiring each party to submit a memorandum or draft decision within thirty (30) days from the date the face-to-face trial ended, accompanied by a softcopy of the document in a format acceptable to the court.
5. Whether or not the court adopts a party’s memorandum or draft decision, it shall promulgate its written decision in the case within sixty (60) days from the oral judgment, if any, or from the date the face-to-face trial ended.
6. The period to appeal from the judgment of the court in this case shall be reckoned from the date of receipt of written decision by the appealing party.
SEC. 24.14. Trials shall be intransferable. — (a) Because of the numerous
persons involved in, and the complex preparations required for, the conduct of trial, especially the face-to-face trial, the dates set for trials shall be intransferable except on grounds of fortuitous event or serious illness of a counsel or witness. The party seeking postponement or resetting of the hearing has the burden of proving with satisfactory evidence the ground invoked. Otherwise, such party shall be deemed to have waived the appearance of counsel and witnesses at the scheduled face-to-face trial.
(b) No motion for postponement or resetting shall be granted on ground of serious illness of a counsel or witness, unless the party concerned presents a medical certificate issued by a physician stating that the illness is of such gravity as to prevent the counsel or witness from attending the scheduled hearing. The judge may require the physician to appear before the court or order another physician either government-employed or retained by the adverse party, to verify the truth of the certification. If such certification turns out to be false, the certifying physician shall be held in contempt of court and punished accordingly.
(c) If the ground for postponement or resetting turns out to be false, the party or counsel who sought it shall also be subject to contempt of court.
SEC. 24.15. Consequences of failure to appear at the trial. —
(a) The failure of counsel to appear at the pre-agreed face-to-face trial without obtaining a prior postponement shall be considered a waiver of appearance and trial shall proceed without such counsel. The absent counsel’s witnesses, if present, shall be regarded as witnesses procured by the court concerning the case and shall be examined in the usual course.
(b) In the event of the failure of a witness to appear, the court shall order such witness’ judicial affidavit expunged, without prejudice to the adverse party using it as a judicial admission if the witness is also a party.
SEC. 24.16. Newly-discovered evidence; new issues evolving during trial. — A party may, in the course of trial, file a motion to admit newly-discovered evidence subject to the rule governing its admission. A party may, without amending the pleadings, also file a motion to amend the Order of Trial to include a new issue or issues that may have since arisen.
SEC. 24.17. Language used during trial. — The court shall require the witnesses in the trial of issues to testify either in English or Filipino, whichever language would enable such witnesses, the court, and the counsels to have fair exchanges. If any of the witnesses cannot take part in such exchanges because of language difficulty, the examination of the witness shall be conducted in the language or dialect known to such witness. In this case, the judge or examining counsels shall make use of an interpreter of their choosing who shall assist them in propounding questions to, and appreciating the answers of, the witness. Nevertheless, the recording of the actual answers given by the witness, not their English or Filipino translation, will constitute the official and binding testimony of the witness. When quoting in a pleading, motion, memorandum, petition, or other court submission, the text of questions and answers of a witness given in a local dialect, the counsels shall indicate the translations into English or Filipino in appropriate brackets.