MANILA – Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Thursday said frivolous suits clogging lower courts are expected to lessen following the overhaul of the rules of court.
During the media launch for the 2019 revisions on the court rules, Peralta explained that during the preliminary assessment by judges under the new rules, judges may outright dismiss frivolous suits, with the judge likewise empowered to discipline erring counsels for filing lighthearted cases.
Under the new rules, the signature of the counsel is required in every pleading submitted to the court and the signature constitutes a certificate that among other things, that the lawyer had made an inquiry and that the claim sought or defense cited is warranted under the law.
Likewise, the new rules provide that the court may impose an appropriate sanction on an attorney, law firm or party that violated the rule. The sanction may include, but is not limited to non-monetary directive or sanction. The lawyer or law firm cannot pass on the monetary penalty to the client.
“Kaya yung mga lawyers na nagpa-file ng frivolous suits medyo mag ingat na sila kase lahat na ng complaints babasahin ng husto ng judge (So lawyers who file frivolous suits, they should be careful because the judge will scrutinize the complaint from the start),” Peralta said.
Peralta said there is no use in proceeding to a pretrial or requiring the party to file an answer “when in fact the case should have been dismissed as early as the filing of the case.”
“Under the old rules …di masyadong proactive yung judge e under the new rules more active na siya di na pwedeng passive (Under the old rules, the judge is not proactive. Under the new rule, the judge is more active in the proceedings),” he added.
Also under the present rules, the setting of the pre-trial is now done by the judge and not to be determined by the parties.
“Kinakailangan na ngayon may preliminary assessment. Dati wala nun e, dati ang nagpapa-set ng pre-trial yung party. Ngayon iniba na namin, husgado mismo magseset ng pre-trial …so kung frivolous yung suit, idi-dismiss yan (Preliminary assessment is needed now. Before there’s none, before the party set pre-trial. Now, we changed it, the court itself will set pre-trial. So if you have frivolous suit, it will be dismissed) without prejudice to citing the lawyer or even the party for contempt of court,” Peralta said. (PNA)