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

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