Sunday, February 28, 2010

Case Law and Court Structure by Kathleen Esteban

Case law in general

Case law is a general term for body of cases decided by the courts and other persons or bodies performing judicial functions. Commentators write that case law is distinguished from statute law in that the latter is a norm of conduct promulgated by the law-making authorties of a state while case law is the same norm proclaimed by judicial authorities.

Case law may be categorized into (1) conventional decision which cover all rulings by regularly or specially constituted courts of justice, and (2) subordinate decisions which include all rulings by administrative and legislative tribunals.

Hierarchy of the Courts

- Courts

I. Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts
Every municipality in the Philippines has its own Municipal Trial Court. It is referred to as such if it covers only one municipality; otherwise, it is called Municipal Circuit Trial Court if it covers two or more municipalities.

II. Metropolitan Trial Courts and Municipal Trial Courts in Cities Municipal Trial Courts in the towns and cities in the Metropolitan Manila area, as distinguished from the other political subdivisions in the Philippines, are referred to as Metropolitan Trial Courts. In cities outside Metropolitan Manila, the equivalent of the Municipal Trial Courts is referred to as Municipal Trial Courts in Cities.

III. Regional Trial Courts Regional Trial Courts were established among the thirteen regions in the Philippines consisting of Regions I to XII and the National Capital Region (NCR). There are as many Regional Trial Courts in each region as the law mandates.

IV. Shari'a Courts Equivalent to the Regional Trial Courts in rank is the Shari'a District Courts which were established in certain specified provinces in Mindanao where the Muslim Code on Personal Laws is being enforced. Equivalent to the Municipal Circuit Trial Courts are the Shari'a Circuit Courts which were established in certain municipalities in Mindanao. There are five Shari'a District Courts and fifty one Shari'a Circuit Courts in existence.

V. Court of Tax Appeals A special court, the Court of Tax Appeals, composed of a Presiding Judge and two Associate Judges, is vested with the exclusive appellate jurisdiction over appeals from the decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Commissioner of Customs on certain specific issues.

VI. Sandiganbayan A special court, the Sandiganbayan, composed of a Presiding Justice and eight Associate Justices, has exclusive jurisdiction over violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act [Republic Act No. 3019], the Unexplained Wealth Act [Republic Act No. 1379] and other crimes or felonies committed by public officials and employees in relation to their office, including those employees in government-owned or controlled corporations.

VII. Court of Appeals The Court of Appeals, composed of one Presiding Justice and sixty eight Associate Justices is vested with jurisdiction over appeals from the decisions of the Regional Trial Courts and certain quasi-judicial agencies, boards or commissions.

VIII. The Highest Court - Supreme Court The Supreme Court is the highest Court in the Philippines. There is only one Supreme Court composed of one Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It is the final arbiter of any and all judicial issues. When so deciding, it may sit en banc or in divisions of three, five or seven members.

— Quasi Judicial Bodies

A. Department of Finance
Bureau of Internal Revenue
Bureau of Customs
Insurance Commission
Central Board of Assessment Appeals
Fiscal Incentives Review Board
Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantees Corporation
Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation

B. Department of Justice
Land Registration Authority
Commission on Immigration and Deportation

C. Department of Agriculture
Sugar Regulatory Authority
National Irrigation Authority
National Meat Inspection Commission
National Food Authority
Quedans Guarantee Fund Board

D. Department of Public Works and Highways
Bureau of Research and Standards
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System
Local Water utilities Administration

E. Department of Labor and Employment
National Labor Relations Commission
Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration
National Manpower and Youth Council
National Maritime Polytechnic

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reliance on Foreign Legal Authorities by Jonathan Enriquez

Cu vs. Republic of the Philippines

It is a rule of statutory construction that a statute adopted from another state or country will be presumed to be adopted with the construction placed upon it by the courts of that state or country before its adoption. Such construction is regarded as of great weight, or at least persuasive, and will generally be followed if found reasonable, and in harmony with justice and public policy, and with other laws of the adopting jurisdiction on the subject.

Tamayo vs. Gsell

Generally speaking, when a statute has been adopted from another State or country and such statute has previously been construed by the courts of such State or country, the statute is deemed to have been adopted with the construction so given it. The law being so clearly traced to its source and the intention of the Legislature being so apparent, it is necessary to ascertain and be guided by the decisions of the courts in the United States construing essentially the same law.

Ortigas vs Feati

The views set forth in American decisions and authorities are not per se controlling in the Philippines, the laws of which must necessarily be construed in accordance with the intention of its own lawmakers and such intent may be deduced from the language of each law and the context of other local legislation related thereto.

Secondary Authorities by Jan Christopher Elmido

• A secondary authority is an authority purporting to explain the meaning or applicability of the actual verbatim texts of primary authorities such as constitutions, statutes, case law, administrative regulations, executive orders, treaties, or similar legal instruments.
• Publications which are not primary authority but which discuss or analyze legal doctrine are considered secondary authorities.
• Its main purpose is to lead or explain Primary authorities.

• PRIMARY AUTHORITIES BINDING TO THE COURT; a court must rely on primary authorities on reaching a decision such as enacted laws or decisions of a higher court that addressed the same or a similar legal question and facts. ( MANDATORY or BINDING AUTHORITY)
• On the other hand, SECONDARY AUTHORITIES is not bound to be followed or considered BUT may be considered (OPTIONAL) when reaching a decision (PERSUASIVE AUTHORITY)


• Expositions by legal writers on statutory law and case law pertaining to a particular subject and published in book form. It embodies a range of publications, including multi-volumes works, textbooks, and shorter monographs.
1. The Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated by Edgardo L. Paras
2. The Law on Obligations and Contracts by Hector S. De Leon Sr.
• Digest of cases are compilations of paragraphs containing summaries of points in cases, grouped under appropriate headings.
• Each paragraph is complete in itself when it has concisely and accurately stated the point decided with reference to precise facts.
– SCRA Quick-Index Digest.
– Compendium of Philippine Jurisprudence by Celso L. Magsino.
. EXAMPLE: The Crisis of Our Constitutional System by J. Laurel.
. EXAMPLE: Philippine Law Journal

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Res Judicata and Stare Decisis by Jeannie Boado


Latin term for "a matter [already] judged",
• refers to two things: in both civil law and common law legal systems --


It forbids the reopening of a matter that has already been finally adjudicated by competent authority This is better known as the rule of res judicata. (Sta, Ana vs. Narvades, 30 SCRA 454)

The underlying principles upon which this doctrine rests are:

(1) That parties ought not to be permitted to litigate the same issue more than once; that when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, or an opportunity for such trial has been given, the judgment of the court, so long as it remains unrevised, should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privacy with them in law or estate. (Sarabia vs. Secretary, 2 SCRA 54; Aquino vs. Sanvictores, 89 Phil. 532)

(2) This rule applies even when the causes of action in the two suits are wholly different. (Lopena vs. Pagsisihan, 580. G. 7719) To once again reopen the issue through a different avenue would defeat the existence of our courts as final arbiters of legal controversies. (Calusin et al. vs. CA et al. June 21, 2000)

"The doctrine of res judicata is an old axiom of the law, dictated by wisdom and sanctified by age, and is founded on the broad principle that it is to the interest of the public that there should be an end to litigation by the same parties over a subject once fully and fairly adjudicated". (Filipinas Investment and Financing Corp. vs. ICA, 179 SCRA 728) It is to the interest of the public that there should be an end to litigation over a subject fully and fairly adjudicated, and an individual should not be vexed twice for the same cause. (Carlet vs. CA, 275 SCRA 97).

(3) The doctrine of res judicata applies as well to the judicial and quasijudicial acts of public, executive, or administrative officers and bodies such as labor tribunals---as to judgments of courts having judicial powers.(Brifiantes vs. Castro, 99 Phil. 503citing 50 C.3.S., Sec. 90, pp. 148-149).


In order that the doctrine of res judicata shall apply, the following requisites should be present:

(a) The former judgment or order must be final;
(b) It must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties;
(c) It must be a judgment or order on the merits; and
(d) There must be between the first and second actions identity of parties, of subject matter, and of cause of action. A change in the form of action or in the relief sought does not remove a proper case from the application of its judicata. (Carlet vs. CA, supra).

Res judicata is one of the grounds for a Motion to Dismissal complaint.


Stare decisis is the legal principle by which judges are obliged to obey the precedents established by prior decisions. The words originate from the Latin phrase Stare decisis et non quieta movere, "Maintain what has been decided and do not alter that which has been established".

However, the doctrine of stare decisis is not always to be relied upon, for the courts find it necessary to overrule cases, which have been hastily decided, or contrary to principle.

Although the doctrine of stare decisis does not prevent reexamining and, if need be, overruling prior decisions, "It is . . . a fundamental jurisprudential policy that prior applicable precedent usually must be followed even though the case, if considered anew, might be decided differently by the current justices. This policy . . . 'is based on the assumption that certainty, predictability and stability in the law are the major objectives of the legal system; i.e., that parties should be able to regulate their conduct and enter into relationships with reasonable assurance of the governing rules of law.'" (Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Companies (1988) 46 Cal.3d 287, 296.)

The principle of stare decisis can be divided into two components.

(1) a decision made by a superior court is binding precedent (also known as mandatory authority) which an inferior court cannot change.

(2)a court should not overturn its own precedents unless there is a strong reason to do so and should be guided by principles from lateral and inferior courts.