Small Claims in the Philippines

**This topic is intended to be shared to legal-aged readers. If you are under-aged, kindly discontinue reading unless you are with an adult who’s able to give you proper guidance in this matter. **

I have recently been thru a small claims case here in the Philippines. Don’t worry guys, I didn’t do anything wrong to anybody. Instead, I was the one who was wronged. So you are safe with me. 😉

Let us not dig into my story cause I know that it will either bore you to death or kill you from excitement. Either way, it will still kill you and you’ll end up dead. Haha

I’m sorry for being a bit morbid and for talking about deaths, I’ve been watching Elementary, Blacklist, and The Walking Dead lately and it’s affecting me. *Yikes!*

Let’s go back to our main topic for today…

A lot of us have entertained the thought of suing someone at least once in our lives. It may be a friend or acquaintance who owed you money, a tenant who didn’t pay his lease, a landlord who didn’t give back your security deposit, or any other situation you’ve been in which involves the collection of a certain sum of money. Many of us dismiss the thought since we can already foresee the cost it will bring in our pockets. It is a well-known fact that lawyers are not cheap. The money you will be spending on a lawyer might even be higher than the amount you are supposed to collect from the person who owes you. So, who in their right mind would do that, right? Unless you are a person who has money to spend. If so, then please adopt me *puppy eyes*. >0< LOL, I’m kidding.

Luckily, for people like me who are both sane not to spend on lawyers more than the money to be collected and don’t really have much in their pockets, in short BROKE, the Small Claims Cases have been made available to the Philippines.

Just a bit of a background check…

Small claims court is a special court wherein the rules are simplified, the setting is informal,  the process is easier and faster, disputes are resolved quickly ( State of California, DCA), and… for the best part…. CHEAP.

This special court was finally implemented in the Philippines on March 2010 and, after seeing a high success rate, an improved and revised rules of procedure was enacted on February 2016 (Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court, Manila).

Procedure

So here are the steps that you must follow before and during the filing of your case.

  1. When trying to resolve the situation with the person who owes you money fails, go to their barangay and try resolving it there. Agreements will be formed and signed by the parties and the witnesses, the barangay officials.
  2. After the other party fails to deliver, which then breaks the agreement formed in the barangay, ask the officials for a Certificate to File Action. The Certificate to File Action is a document that will certify that you tried to resolve the issue on your own and with the barangay first before filing the case to the court.
  3. Collect all documents you have which are related to the case and can be used as proof. This will strengthen your chance to win and would make it easier for the judge to understand your story. Remember, the court always base its judgement on the evidence you show them. So bring all documents like receipts, letters, contracts, pictures of conversations, and the Certificate to File Action. Make sure to bring the original copies when you file your case.
  4. Fill in Form-1-SCC and Form-1-A-SCC. There is a form available online but you can also get a copy from the municipal trial court. Small claims cases are usually held in your municipality’s trial court. As for me, I went to the window which processes small claims cases. This will actually do you good as you can ask questions or clarify whatever concerns you may have.
  5. After filling up the forms, photocopy it and the other documents that you will be passing for evidence. Complete copies for the judge and the person you will be filing a case on. If you have multiple people to file a case on, provide a set of copies for each one. The original copy will be your copy but they’ll be needing it so that they can certify the photocopies. Make sure to bring all the documents that you would like to use as evidence. You will not be allowed to bring additional evidence to the court upon the day of your trial.
  6. After you have completed all the copies for the documents needed, file your case at the small claims window of your municipality’s trial court. You will need to pay a fee for it. I think the amount will depend on the money you will be collecting. I would suggest that you ask them first.
  7. After filing and paying, the staff will give you your copy. You will have to wait for the announcement on which branch or judge will hear your case. They use a draw lots method to identify which case goes to which branch. I believe that this is to avoid the use of connections if ever you or the person you’ll be filing a case on knows the judge of a certain branch. You will then wait for the sheriff to give you a Notice of Hearing. The sheriff will also be sending a Notice of Hearing, Summon, and copy of the evidences you passed to the other party.

Things to take note:

  1. Terms:

Plaintiff- The person filing the case

Defendant- The person being filed a complaint on.

  1. One mistake I did when I passed the documents I have for evidence is that I printed a timeline of the events that happened. DO NOT DO THIS. I forgot that all the evidence I submitted will also be seen by the defendant. Both parties are given a month before the trial to review the evidences. Therefore, doing this would get rid of your leverage.
  2. Your case will be heard at least 30 days after you have filed it. It is highly encouraged that you seek the help of an advisor before the trial. Ask all the questions you have like how to handle the case, how to present your side, and what will be the best options for you to be able to get your money back.
  3. Make sure to put the address of the defendant where you know s/he can surely be found. If you don’t, and the sheriff wasn’t able to locate the defendant on the address you have given, you will be asked to serve the notice on your own and your case will be moved to another day or month/s. This will postpone everything and you would have to wait again.
  4. Do not expect that you will be able to collect anything immediately.

Well guys, I hope this helps you. I will be posting another blog on how to prepare for your small claims trial and what happens inside the court and probably after.

Remember our motto? Even the Smallest Detail can Matter.

This doesn’t only apply to our nails but also to our everyday lives, especially to court cases. 😉

References:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/basic_info.shtml

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/smallclaims/SMALL%20CLAIMS%20PAMPHLET.pdf

CHECK OUT THE SECOND PART HERE:

SMALL CLAIMS IN THE PHILIPPINES PART 2

Do you have any comments, questions, or any suggested topic? Hit the comment section or like my page on facebook @spontanaileous.

Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/Spontanaileous

See you in the next blog!

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