Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Liberal construction of procedural rules - G.R. No. 168973

G.R. No. 168973
(click link)

"x x x.

Procedural rules were conceived to aid the attainment of justice. If a stringent application of the rules would hinder rather than serve the demands of substantial justice, the former must yield to the latter.[29] In Basco v. Court of Appeals,[30] we allowed a liberal application of technical rules of procedure, pertaining to the requisites of a proper notice of hearing, upon consideration of the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, as illustrated in well-settled cases, to wit:

The liberal construction of the rules on notice of hearing is exemplified in Goldloop Properties, Inc. v. CA:

Admittedly, the filing of respondent-spouses' motion for reconsideration did not stop the running of the period of appeal because of the absence of a notice of hearing required in Secs. 3, 4 and 5, Rule 15, of the Rules of Court. As we have repeatedly held, a motion that does not contain a notice of hearing is a mere scrap of paper; it presents no question which merits the attention of the court. Being a mere scrap of paper, the trial court had no alternative but to disregard it. Such being the case, it was as if no motion for reconsideration was filed and, therefore, the reglementary period within which respondent-spouses should have filed an appeal expired on 23 November 1989.

But, where a rigid application of that rule will result in a manifest failure or miscarriage of justice, then the rule may be relaxed, especially if a party successfully shows that the alleged defect in the questioned final and executory judgment is not apparent on its face or from the recitals contained therein. Technicalities may thus be disregarded in order to resolve the case. After all, no party can even claim a vested right in technicalities. Litigations should, as much as possible, be decided on the merits and not on technicalities.

Hence, this Court should not easily allow a party to lose title and ownership over a party worth P4,000,000.00 for a measly P650,000.00 without affording him ample opportunity to prove his claim that the transaction entered into was not in fact an absolute sale but one of mortgage. Such grave injustice must not be permitted to prevail on the anvil of technicalities.

Likewise, in Samoso v. CA, the Court ruled:

But time and again, the Court has stressed that the rules of procedure are not to be applied in a very strict and technical sense. The rules of procedure are used only to help secure not override substantial justice (National Waterworks & Sewerage System vs. Municipality of Libmanan, 97 SCRA 138 [1980]; Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 72 SCRA 120 [1976]). The right to appeal should not be lightly disregarded by a stringent application of rules of procedure especially where the appeal is on its face meritorious and the interests of substantial justice would be served by permitting the appeal (Siguenza v. Court of Appeals, 137 SCRA 570 [1985]; Pacific Asia Overseas Shipping Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 76595, May 6, 1998). . . .

In the instant case, it is petitioner's life and liberty that is at stake. The trial court has sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and his conviction attained finality on the basis of mere technicality. It is but just, therefore, that petitioner be given the opportunity to defend himself and pursue his appeal. To do otherwise would be tantamount to grave injustice. A relaxation of the procedural rules, considering the particular circumstances herein, is justified.[31] (Emphasis ours.)

In the case at bar, the Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration of petitioner, which sought the reversal of RTC Order dated September 7, 2000 dismissing LRC Case No. N-201, cite meritorious grounds that justify a liberal application of procedural rules.

x x x."