Some 2002 Supreme Court resolutions and circulars affecting legal practice
POINT OF LAW - Francis Lim () - January 21, 2003 - 12:00am
( First of two parts )
I thought of writing this article to remind my brethrens in the profession about some resolutions and circulars that the Supreme Court issued in 2002. These circulars and resolutions affect, in no small degree, legal practice before our courts of law.
Search and seizure in civil actions for infringement of intellectual property rights
On Jan. 22, 2002, the Supreme Court, in a resolution issued in A.M. No. 02-01-06-SC, approved the Rules in Search and Seizure in Civil Actions for Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights.

The rules introduce an innovation to our legal system in the sense that it authorizes search and seizure in a civil case for infringement under Republic Act 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, Article 50 of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, otherwise known as TRIPS and other related laws and international conventions.

The purpose of the rules is to preserve relevant evidence in an infringement case. It may be availed of during the pendency of a civil case or even before the civil case is filed. However, in case no civil action is filed within 31 calendar days from the issuance of the writ of search and seizure, the seized articles shall, on motion, be returned to the alleged infringer.
Extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgages
On Jan. 22, 2002, the Office of the Court Administrator issued Circular 7-2002 which implements a 1999 Supreme Court resolution in A.M. No. 99-10-05-0 governing extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgages. The circular governs extra-judicial foreclosure of both real estate and chattel mortgage, whether done under the direction of the sheriff or a notary public. This circular exempts from publication foreclosure of real estate mortgages covering loans not exceeding P100,000, exclusive of interests due and unpaid, granted by rural banks and thrift banks. It also prescribes that bidding shall be made through sealed bids but in case of a tie, an open bidding shall be conducted between the highest bidders. Significantly, under A.M. No. 99-10-05-0, where the application concerns the extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgages of real estates and/or chattels in different locations covering one indebtedness, only one filing fee corresponding to such indebtedness, shall be collected.
Commitment of children
On Feb. 28, 2002, the Supreme Court issued a resolution in A.M. No. 02-1-19-SC approving the Rule on Commitment of Children. The objective of the rule is to ensure that every effort is exerted to promote the child’s welfare and enhance the opportunities to a useful and happy life. Toward this end, the rule seeks to protect the child from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to his development.

The rule defines a child as a person below 18 years of age and authorizes his commitment, voluntary or involuntary, to the Department of Social Welfare and Development or any duly licensed child-caring agency or individual in appropriate cases. It prescribes detailed procedure to be followed in commitment cases.
Juveniles in conflict with the law
On Feb. 28, 2002, the Supreme Court, in A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC, approved the Rule on Juveniles in Conflict with the Law. The rule applies to all criminal cases involving a juvenile defined as a person who at the time of the commission of the offense is below 18 years of age but not less than nine years old. The objective of the rule is to ensure that the justice system treats every juvenile in conflict with the law in a manner that recognizes and upholds his human dignity and worth, and instills in him respect for the fundamental rights and freedom of others. The rule considers his development age and desirability of his reintegration into and assumption of his constructive role in society in accordance with the principles of restorative justice.

The rule prescribes special procedure for taking a juvenile into custody, conduct of investigation by the police, fingerprinting and photographing of the juvenile and care of the juvenile in conflict with the law. It also prescribes that the case be filed and tried by the family court where the offense or any of its essential elements occurred. The rule also prescribes automatic suspension of sentence and makes all records and proceedings privileged and confidential.
Private prosecutors in criminal cases
On April 10, 2002, the Supreme Court, in A.M. No. 02-2-07-SC, amended Section 5, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court governing the appearance of private prosecutors in criminal cases. Under the rules on criminal procedure, all criminal actions either commenced by complaint or by information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of a public prosecutor. The rules require the presence of the public prosecutor in all stages of the criminal prosecution. The circular creates exceptions to this rule by providing that "[i]n case of heavy work schedule of the public prosecutor or in the even of lack of public prosecutors, the private prosecutor may be authorized in writing by the Chief of the Prosecution Office or the Regional State Prosecutor to prosecute the case subject to the approval of the court. Once so authorized to prosecute the criminal action, the private prosecutor shall continue to prosecute the case up to the end of the trial even in the absence of a public prosecutor, unless the authority is revoked or otherwise withdrawn." - To be continued

(The author is a senior partner of the Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices or ACCRALAW. He may be contacted at 830-8000.)

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