Filing procedure with Small Claims Court

C&C VIEWS - Ed F. Limtingco () - January 27, 2011 - 12:00am

As what I have written previously, according to the facts and statistics presented, for the period beginning from October 1, 2008 to January 21, 2009 in 22 Pilot Courts, there were 1,750 small claims cases filed. Plaintiffs consist of 28% individuals while 72% were juridical entities. The reported disposal rate is about 45% cases disposed within the same period while 37% were settled amicably and 8% were decided based on merits. The average case lifetime is an impressive 1-3 months. These statistics were presented to the participants last December 10, 2010, by the Small Claims Court Technical Working Group (SCC-TWG) in cooperation with the American Bar Association-Rule of Law Inc (ABA-ROLI) which conducted a public information drive on the salient features of the rule of procedure for the small claims under A.M no. 08-8-7-SC.

A small claims case may be initiated by going to the first level courts and by filing before the SCC a statement of claim, which is a formal writing that sets forth the facts and circumstances of the claim. The plaintiff or the one filing the case can simply get a ready-made statement of claim form from the SCC and this is for free. Likewise, if these are quite technical for the one filing, there are trained court personnel that can guide you in preparing and/or completing the said form. After the statement of claim is filed the SCC will determine whether it will proceed with the case or dismiss it outright. However, if after the review it was found out that the claim is not purely for a sum of money (for example it just involves cancellation of a contract), the SCC will have to dismiss it.

Then if the SCC finds no ground to dismiss the claim it will require the defendant (the person being sued) to answer the statement of claim by filing a response within period of 10 days. It must be emphasized that the 10 days prescription period is non-extendible Likewise, the response must also be signed and verified by the defendant, accompanied by certified copies of any evidence such as documents or photographs relied upon for defense, and affidavits of witnesses and other evidence. The difference between cases filed in SCC and in ordinary civil cases, the defendant is not allowed to ask for a dismissal of the claim – unless otherwise the SCC does not have jurisdiction to try the case. Then, if after due notification, no response is filed, the SCC will render judgment based on the claim. But if a response is filed and a copy thereof is furnished to the plaintiff, the SCC will require the parties to be present or appear on a scheduled date for hearing.

Furthermore, if there are evidence that is not attached to either the statement of claim or response, the same cannot be presented and admitted during the hearing of the case, except for good cause shown. An acceptable reason for a good cause is when at the time of filing the statement of claim the evidence was not yet available through no fault of the plaintiff.

Lastly, as what I have said before, now with the establishment of small claims courts, filing for collection or sum of money has just become simple, inexpensive and expeditious.

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