Jurisdiction of Philippine Courts

Jurisdiction sounds a bit intimidating for the layman, specially if you add “court” to it. This is particularly true if there’s a “foreign element,” such as in contracts, where a particular aspect of the contract — whether in its nature, negotiations, execution, performance or breach — is done or governed in a territorial jurisdiction outside the Philippines.

The word “jurisdiction,” as applied to the exercise of judicial power, is used in different, though related, senses. Jurisidction may refer (1) to the authority of the court to entertain a particular kind of action or to administer a particular kind of relief, or it may refer to the power of the court over the parties, or (2) over the property which is the subject to the litigation.

Jurisdiction over subject matter. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is the power to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question belong and is conferred by the sovereign authority which organized courts and defines its powers. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is provided by law. For instance, the law provides what matters are under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchance Commission (SEC), the Military Tribunals or the regular courts.

Jurisdiction over the person of the plaintiff. This is acquired by the filing of the complaint or initiatory pleading before the court by the plaintiff. This is related to the right of a person to file a case in a Philippines court. The more problematic concern is the right of the non-resident alien to seek remedy in Philippine courts. As held in the case of Dilweg vs. Phillips (12 Phil. 243, 247 [1964]), “it is not indispensable for a foreigner to establish residence, nor need he be physically present in a state which he is not a resident or citizen in order that he may initiate or maintain a personal action against a resident or citizen of that other state for rights of action arising in, or for violations of laws committed within, the territorial jurisdiction of that other state. In this jurisdiction, no general law has come to our knowledge which restricts the right of non-resident aliens to sue in our courts. It is not disputed that plaintiffs cause of action arose in, and that the defendants are within, our territorial jurisdiction.”

Jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. Jurisdiction over the person is acquired by the voluntary appearance of a party in court and his submission to its authority, or it is acquired by the coercive power of legal process exerted over the person of the defendant. In other words, a defendant who wasn’t served with summons is generally not bound by the decision in that particular case.

Now, if we consider a “foreign element,” it may happen that a Philippine court will refuse to take cognizance of a case even if it has jurisdiciton. Indeed, Philippine courts, having acquired jurisdiction over the case, may refuse to assume jurisdiction in spite of its having acquired jurisdiction. Conversely, courts may assume jurisdiction over the case if it chooses to do so, provided, that the following requisites are met: 1) That the Philippine Court is one to which the parties may conveniently resort to; 2) That the Philippine Court is in a position to make an intelligent decision as to the law and the facts; and, 3) That the Philippine Court has or is likely to have power to enforce its decision.

Under the principle of forum non conveniens, in conflicts of law cases, courts may refuse to exercise jurisdiction where it is not the most “convenient” or available forum and the parties are not precluded from seeking remedies elsewhere. This principle was developed to combat the practice of non-resident litigants to choose the forum or place wherein to bring their suit for various reasons or excuses, including securing procedural advantages, annoying and harassing the defendant, avoiding overcrowded dockets, or selecting a more friendly venue. On the other hand, even if a Philippine court assumes jurisdiction and decides a case, it may choose to apply foreign a law. This, however, is a tricky subject that requires an entirely separate post.

24 thoughts on “Jurisdiction of Philippine Courts

  1. carlomaderazo

    I am a Filipino citizen and I had trouble with my fellow Filipinos that they conspired against me in order i can be terminated in the company. I would like to inquire if the Philippine Court has jurisdiction if I will file civil lawsuit for damages but the incident happenened outside the country? Please send me email in carlomaderazo@yahoo.com. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Ben

      Hello po May unpaid loan po ako sa Ibang bansa,then Meron po sila parang debt collector dito sa pinas And emailing me na kakasuhan daw po ako ng civil case.

      Pwde po Nila gawin ung?
      At Ano po pwede ko gawin;na layoff po kasi ako sa work ko. Sa Ibang bansa trying to search pa ng job sa same country but no lock.
      Kaya umuwi na po ako at sinabi ko po sa kanila na nag aaply ulit ako abroad para mabyaran remaining utang ko po

      Reply
      1. tabornal vivian

        gud morning..i have d same case with u an unpaid loan abroad..employer terminated me without prior notice and was stuck up here in the phil.2years already and the agency which i loaned the amount bother me everytime and telling me i hav warrant of arrent and will garnish my place or sheriiff my place..im reading your message and tried to look for the rply here but it seems there’s no rply for your questions here..woul you mind to share to me if ever they had given u something i could think of about their messge or answer?

        Reply
  2. grace

    Greetings!

    Which court has jurisdiction if i file a petition for authority to subdivide and approval of subdivision plan at DENR? Should this be filed in the RTC or MCTC?

    Reply
  3. ali

    hi po just want to ask my case…
    pwede po ba ako mag file ng kaso sa pinsan ko na nag record ng aming pinag-usapan sa facebook?at binahagi nya ang record na iyon yong private conversation namin sa buong baranggay?napahiya po ako ng sobra…ngayon po naka alis na sya sa pinas working na sya abroad at plano ko po sana pag uwi ko galing dito abroad mag file ako ng kaso sa kanya may kopya po ako ng audio na ni record nya ung usapan namin…uuwe pko after a year po at baka nasa abroad pa din po sya s pag uwe ko…makaka file pa po ba ako ng kaso sa ginawa?ano naman pong kaso?its really against my will po ung pag record nya at nakakahiya po…marami pong salamat sa magbibigay ng payo sa akin God blessed u po…

    Reply
  4. Oh If Dabulyo

    Hello po
    ask ko lang,,
    Pwede ba akong kasuhan ng civil case
    kahit nandito ako sa ibang bansa?

    Ito ay tungkol sa lupa na tinitirahan namin,,Public property yon kaso ang bahay ang may ari nuon ay bayaw ko,,binigay niya sakin 1996 pa
    so di inasahan nagkahiwalay kaming mag asawa,,tapos ako nlang nagpapa aral sa mga anak ko
    ang tatay nila ni isang kusing walang naitulong po
    Ngayon gusto nilang bawiin ang bahat na worth lang nuoon ng 7 K plus,
    na build siya 1989 pa po,,so nabigay saking 1996 July 11 po,
    pati Electric Bill at sa water bills nakapangalan na sakin,,
    Kasi nga pumerma siya ng waver of rights na binigay na niya at ayaw na niyang makialam pa

    Ngayun gustong makipag balikan asawa ko
    ako ang ayaw dahil lulong siya sa Sugal at bisyo sa inum
    Yon ang dahilan kong bakit ko siya hiniwalayan
    Maka suhan ba ako og Hindi?
    Makukuha paba ang bahay kahit sa DENR ang lupa,kasi nasa tabi siya ng ilog
    Yun lang po

    MARAMING SALAMAT PO

    Reply
  5. Hazel

    Nakagat po ng aso sa labi ang 8yr old daughter ko at humiram lang po ako ng pambayad sa mga shots na kailangan,may nagpahiram naman po,pero ang kondisyon sisingilin namin ang owner nung dog at yun ang ipambabayad. Problema po,ayaw magbayad nung may-ari nung aso sa nagastos namin na umabot ng PhP 12,000+. At nalaman na lang po namin sa mga kamag-anak na nasa France na para sa project ng company na pinagtatrabahuhan nya (engr.po yung owner nung dog). Pero sinasabi po nilang wala daw po silang pambayad. Ngayon pati sa lupon tinatanong po nila kung sino daw po puedeng idemanda ngayon na nasa France na daw po yung taong nirereklamo namin? Ano po ang puede naming gawin? Will look forward to any advice we can get. Thank you everyone and God bless.

    Reply
  6. Fritzmillendez

    I have a friend from Denmark, he is married to a Filipina in Philippines they have two son but they marriage does not work out because they like a cat and dog even in a small thing, and January 2017 they had a arguments about in a RIGHT TURN. They going to pangasinan to check some of the bamboos they shouting each other like there’s no space on their’s face,then his Filipina wife left him in the middle of the mountain he don’t know where to go because he is a foreigner he also don’t have a data or wife to use his maps. So his so scared then he drove straight ask some farmers is they daw nearby convenience store so hi could use wifi. Lucky he reach house of his wife grandparents, they parent staring at him like he did a worse thing to her Filipina wife, so he tried to talk to them but then his wife come out from her grandparents house then suddenly she point her finger to my friend forehead and told him YOU NEED TO GROW UP and kick him out of their house in front of her family and neighbors she humiliate my friend totally ,my friend don’t know where to go he don’t have friends in Philippines ,, she did not do it in one time she did it two times to again and again what if bad happened out in the streets him and she burn her flights ticket to Denmark and broke her visa to Denmark now she cannot go to denmark because she broke her special visa, and now my friend wants a divorce to her but she don’t want.my friend also told me that he coming to Philippines November 20, but his wife told him that they waiting the news from immigration because her and her family monitor his travel,, and she also him that they will file a demand against to him like marital rape and abandonment,,they trying to blackmail my Danish friend, now my friend was so scared because he thinking maybe go to jail in Philippines. What do you think about it ? Do you think my friend can hold the immigration of the Philippines and put him in jail if his wife family file a demand against him? Is that possible?? I really want help to him my friend but I also don’t know about Philippines laws, I hope I can hear your answer thank you…

    Reply
  7. Luis

    Hi pahingi naman ako ng legal advice. Plano.ko sana mag file ng kaso sa isa tao. Kaso nasa iba lugar sya ng pilipinas. Dto ko sana i file ang kaso sa manila for security reasons. Una, death threat, malicious mischief, grave threat at physical injury ikakaso ko.
    Pwede po ba yon na dto sa lugar ko kng saan ako nag ttrabaho i file ang kaso? Salamt po sa sasagot..

    Reply
  8. Rugged Terry

    A Canadian used to be a Filipino citizen married me in the Philippines and found out that he is still very much married in the Philippines too. He is now in Canada how can I file a case against him. I’m from Manila married last 2013

    Reply
    1. Gina

      My husband and I are both us citizen, I just found out that my husband has a mistress and a child with this woman and living together from the condo unit that my husband bought bought. Can I sue my husband for concubinage and adultery for his mistress even we’re both us citizen? Do I have the right to get half of whatever he owns in the Philippines even my name was not in the record?

      Reply
  9. Alan

    My wide has been fraudulently cheated/scammed. Obviously this is a criminal matter. Can my wife bring a Civil Case for money taken/owing? And also bring a Criminal Case for the crime?

    Reply
  10. Maricris

    My friend is a foreigner and have a gf filipina.nagkahiwalay na sila.pilit kinukuha ng babae house n lot nabili ni foreigner pati car.d nakapangalan both sa kanila ang property.pwde ba kasuhan ng friend q c ex gf niya?and if pwde ano pwde i kaso,my pangba black mail na din xe xa sa foreigner na mgbigay dw ng pera.pls help

    Reply
  11. Manuel

    A foreigner sale his motorcycle to me, after one day I return his motorcycle because I found its defective as He receive the motorcycle He promise to bring back my money but until now his not returning my money to me how can I file complain against thus foreigner

    Reply
    1. Atty.Fred Post author

      Manuel, by way of general information, a civil case is filed in court (which has jurisdiction over the complainant or defendant, at the option of the defendant); a criminal case is filed with the prosecutor’s office (of the place where any element of the crime happened). Good luck.

      Reply

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