January 4, 2023 @ 9:09 PM 3 weeks ago

THERE is no iota of doubt that even the most experienced lawyers get tangled in the web of procedure.   

Rules of procedure are accorded utmost respect, and must be faithfully followed and dutifully enforced. They are designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases to remedy the worsening problem of delay in the resolution of rival claims and in the administration of justice.

Without procedural or remedial law, substantive law will be illusory; it is procedural or remedial law which provides for the legal process of enforcing substantive law. (Substantive law is that part of the law which creates, defines and regulates rights and duties—which give rise to a cause of action. [Bustos vs. Lucero, March 8, 1949])

However, it must be emphasized that the rules of procedure should promote and serve—not frustrate and obstruct—the broader interests of justice. (Jayme v. Jayme, et al., G.R. No. 248827, August 27, 2020) Thus, legal technicalities may be excused when strict adherence thereto will impede the achievement of justice it seeks to serve. Courts, after all, exist to promote justice.

The Rules are liberally construed to promote their objectives and to assist parties in obtaining just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.

Ultimately, what should guide judicial action is that a party is given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his or her action or defense rather than for him or her to lose life, honor, or property on mere technicalities. (Commissioner of Customs v. PTT Philippines Trading Corporation, G.R. Nos. 203138-40, February 15, 2021)

An inordinate fixation on technicalities cannot defeat the need for a full, just, and equitable litigation of claims. (People vs. Lee, Jr., September 16, 2019) As aptly observed by the Supreme Court in the 1910 case of Alonso vs. Villamor, “A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other… Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier’s thrust.”

Depending on the prevailing circumstances of the case, such as where strong considerations of substantive justice are manifest, the Supreme Court may relax the strict application of the rules of procedure in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction. (Commissioner of Customs v. PTT Philippines Trading Corporation, February 15, 2021)

Finally, it bears stressing that the Rules are strictly construed when they prescribe for: (1) time within which certain acts must be done; or (2) time within which certain proceedings must be taken. Rules of Court prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done, or certain proceedings taken, are considered absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and to the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business. (Conlu vs. The Hon. Court of Appeals, January 29, 1960; Philippine National Bank vs. Deang Marketing Corporation, 593 Phil. 703, 715 [2008])