Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices Image Article - Drastic Changes in the Jurisdiction of Courts in Civil Cases

Changes in the Jurisdiction of the Philippine Courts

The jurisdiction of the various courts in civil cases have significantly been altered by the recently enacted Republic Act No. 11576, otherwise known as “An Act Further Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court.

Previous to this law, it was a rule of thumb that for civil cases involving personal actions, where the amount involved in the controversy does not exceed Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P400,000.00), the civil court with jurisdiction was the Metropolitan Trial Court. In the same vein, where the amount involved in the controversy does not exceed Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00), the civil court with jurisdiction was the Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts. For personal actions where the claim involved exceeds Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P400,000.00), jurisdiction would be vested with the Regional Trial Court.

Also, regarding real actions, or actions affecting title to real property or any interest in real estate, the threshold amounts were Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), both referring to the assessed value of the property involved in the litigation, with the lower threshold applicable to civil actions involving real property outside Metro Manila, and the latter applicable to real properties in Metro Manila. If these thresholds were exceeded, even by just One Peso (P1.00), jurisdiction would be vested with the Regional Trial Courts.

These are now things of the past, and probably, for the better.

Probable Basis for Changes in Court Jurisdiction

With inflation and depreciation of the Philippine Peso, these amounts which were basis for the trial courts to exercise jurisdiction, may not have made sense anymore.

With the passage of Republic Act No. 11576 into law, we see a rectification of values, which appear to be attuned to the times.

The rule of thumb now, is that for civil cases involving personal actions, where the amount involved in the controversy does not exceed Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00), the civil court with jurisdiction will now be the appropriate Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court. For personal actions where the claim involved exceeds Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00), jurisdiction would be vested with the Regional Trial Court.

This means that the threshold amount to consider is now Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00). A Peso more would vest jurisdiction over the Regional Trial Courts, and a Peso less would authorize the Municipal or Metropolitan Trial Courts to hear the cases.

This increased threshold applies to admiralty and maritime claims, probate, both testate and intestate, and any other civil actions where the demand, exclusive of interest, damages, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs or the value of the personal property involved, either exceeds or is below the new threshold.

As for civil cases involving real property or any title or interest over real estate, the new threshold amount is a singular figure of Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P400,000.00), which represents the assessed value of the land, condominium or other real estate involved in the controversy. Thus, if the assessed value of the real estate subject of the controversy is below this threshold, the civil court with jurisdiction will now be the appropriate Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court. If the assessed value of the real property involved in the controversy exceeds Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P400,000.00), jurisdiction would be vested with the Regional Trial Court.

Significance of the New Law

Why is this important?

This is important because a case filed with the wrong court will only end up in the trash bin. Worse, filing fees for cases that are dismissed do not get refunded.

Lawyers have been accustomed to the P300,000.00 – P400,000.00 thresholds for personal actions, and P20,000.00 – P50,000.00 thresholds for real actions, such that reminders are often called for, faced with the possible dismissal and forfeiture of cases.

Also, in our firm, we encourage clients to be involved in their cases. An occasional reminder here and there, by the client and to the lawyer, will certainly not hurt. The dismissal of the case, and losing court filing fees due to a case filed in a court without jurisdiction – now these hurt a lot.

About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices

If you need assistance in any civil or criminal law-related issues or court litigation,  we can help you. Nicolas and de Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines.  You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.  You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at info@ndvlaw.com. Visit our website https://ndvlaw.com.

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