Friday, November 18, 2011

Jurisdiction of the RTC

Excerpt from the book "Certiorari Conundrum" by Thads Bentulan

Jurisdiction of the RTC
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) is a court of general jurisdiction, meaning all cases not cognizable by special courts or by the first level courts (MTC) are under the jurisdiction of the RTC. The RTC has both original and appellate jurisdiction.

RTC: Exclusive original jurisdiction in civil actions
In the following original (not appellate) civil actions, the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction.
1.       When the subject matter of the action is incapable of pecuniary estimation. Example: expropriation and determination of contractual obligations.
2.       Cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, or person exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions.
3.       In civil actions where the demand for sums of money or value of property exceeds P300,000 in the provinces, or P400,000 in Metro Manila. These jurisdictional amounts are exclusive of damages, interest, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs.
4.       If the main cause of action is claim for damages, then the amount claimed as damages must be exceed P300,000 in the provinces, or P400,000 in Metro Manila.
5.       Admiralty and maritime cases where amounts claimed exceed P300,000 in the provinces, or P400,000 in Metro Manila.
6.       Actions involving title or possession of real property or interest therein where the assessed value exceeds P20,000 in the provinces or P50,000 in Metro Manila. However, forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, irrespective of amounts involved are not cognizable by the RTC but by the MTC.
7.       Probate proceedings, whether testate or intestate, where the gross value of the estate exceeds P100,000 in the provinces, or P200,000 in Metro Manila.
8.       In tax collection cases, where the principal amount of taxes and fees, exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed exceeds P300,000 for the provinces or P400,000 in Metro Manila but less than P1 million. For amounts P1 million and above, the Court of Tax Appeals has exclusive original jurisdiction.
9.       Actions and special proceedings falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction supposedly under the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and of the Court of Agrarian Relations.
10.   Cases transferred to the RTC by the Securities Regulation Code including 1) Fraudulent devices or schemes employed directors or officers 2) Intra-corporate controversies 3) corporate election controversies 4) derivative suits 5) inspection of corporate books of accounts
11.   Suspension of payments and corporate rehabilitation

RTC: Concurrent original with Supreme Court
The RTC has concurrent (not exclusive) original (not appellate) jurisdiction with the Supreme Court over actions affecting ambassadors and other public ministers and consuls. However, under the principle of judicial hierarchy, instead of being filed with the Supreme Court directly, despite being concurrent, these actions should be filed with the RTC first, to unload the SC’s burden.
Another principle in concurrent jurisdiction is that once a court recognizes an action, such cognizance will exclude the other concurrent courts.

RTC: Concurrent original with SC and CA
The RTC has concurrent original jurisdiction with both the SC and Court of Appeals (CA) in:
1.                  the special civil actions of certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus against first level courts or bodies, filed within 60 days from notice of judgment or final order under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and
2.                  the special proceeding of habeas corpus (Rule 102) and
3.                  the special civil action of quo warranto (Rule 66).

RTC: Concurrent original with the Insurance Commissioner
The RTC has concurrent jurisdiction with the Insurance Commissioner for claims under the Insurance Code not exceeding P100,000 given that the subject matter is incapable of pecuniary estimation. However, if the main subject matter is capable of pecuniary estimation, then it is the MTC that has concurrent jurisdiction with the Insurance Commissioner up the amount of P100,000.

RTC: Exclusive original jurisdiction in criminal actions
In the following criminal actions, the RTC has exclusive (not concurrent) original (not appellate) jurisdiction:
1.              Criminal cases not within the exclusive original jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, or body. This is in consonance with the principle that the RTC is a court of general jurisdiction.
2.              Criminal cases whether the penalty prescribed by law exceeds six years of imprisonment, regardless of fines.
3.              Criminal cases not falling within the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan where none of the accused are occupying positions are of Salary Grade 27 and higher.
4.              All criminal offenses arising from violations of the National Internal Revenue Code or Tariff and Customs Code and other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs where the principal amount of taxes and fees, exclusive of charges and penalties claimed exceeds P300,000 for the provinces or P400,000 in Metro Manila but less than P1 million.
5.              In cases where the only penalty that can be imposed is a fine (no imprisonment), the RTC has jurisdiction if the fine exceeds P4,000.

RTC: Appellate jurisdiction
In addition to its original jurisdiction, the RTC has appellate jurisdiction over cases decided by the MTC. The notice of appeal (NOA) must be filed with the MTC within 15 days from notice of judgment.

Jurisdiction of the Family Courts
Part of the jurisdiction that used to be under the RTC has been transferred to the Family Courts, which are special courts. Some RTC have been temporarily designated as Family Courts. The Family Courts shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over these cases:
1.       Criminal cases where one or more of the accused is below 18  but not less than 9 years old when the offense was committed.
2.       Where one or more of the victims is a minor at the time of the commission of the offense.
3.       Petitions for guardianship, custody of children, and habeas corpus in relation to the children.
4.       Petitions for adoption of children.
5.       Complaints for annulment of marriage, declaration of nullity of marriage and those relating to marital status and property relations of husband and wife or those living together under different status and agreements, and petitions for dissolution of conjugal partnership of gains.
6.       Petitions for support or acknowledgment.
7.       Summary judicial proceedings brought under the Family Code.
8.       Petitions for declaration of status of children as abandoned, dependent or neglected children, petitions for voluntary or involuntary commitment of children; the suspension, termination, or restoration of parental authority and other cases cognizable under P.D. 603, EO 56, and other related laws;
9.       Petitions for the constitution of the family home.
10.   Cases against minors cognizable under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
11.   Violations of RA 7610, (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act)
12.    Cases of domestic violence against women, which are acts of gender based violence that results, or are likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women; and other forms of physical abuse such as battering or threats and coercion which violate a woman's personhood, integrity and freedom of movement; and
13.   Cases of domestic violence against children, which include the commission of all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, violence, and discrimination and all other conditions prejudicial to their development.
14.   If an act constitutes a criminal offense, the accused or batterer shall be subject to criminal proceedings and the corresponding penalties. If any question involving any of the above matters should arise as an incident in any case pending in the regular courts, said incident shall be determined in that court.

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