Civil Procedure: Rule 18 Pre-Trial
Sec. 1. When conducted. – After the last pleading has been served and filed, it shall be the duty of the plaintiff to promptly move ex parte that the case be set for pre-trial.
Sec. 2. Nature and purpose. – The pre-trial is mandatory. The court shall consider:
(a) The possibility of an amicable settlement or of a submission to alternative modes of dispute resolution;
(b) The simplification of the issues;
(c) The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;
(d) The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents to avoid unnecessary proof;
(e) The limitation of the number of witnesses;
(f) The advisability of a preliminary reference of issues to a commissioner;
(g) The propriety of rendering judgement on the pleadings, or summary judgement, or of dismissing the action should a valid ground therefor be found to exist;
(h) The advisability or necessity of suspending the proceedings; and
(i) Such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the action.
Sec. 3. Notice of pre-trial. – The notice of pre-trial shall be served on counsel, or on the party who has no counsel. The counsel served with such notice is charged with the duty of notifying the party represented by him.
Sec. 4. Appearance of parties. – It shall be the duty of the parties and their counsel to appear at the pre-trail. The non-appearance of a party may be excused only if a valid cause is shown therefor or if a representative shall appear in his behalf fully authorized in writing to enter into an amicable settlement, to submit to alternative modes of dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents.
Sec. 5. Effect of failure to appear. – The failure of the plaintiff to appear when so required pursuant to the next preceding section shall be cause for dismissal of the action. The dismissal shall be with prejudice, unless otherwise ordered by the court. A similar failure on the part of the defendant shall be cause to allow the plaintiff to present his evidence ex parte and the court to render judgement on the basis thereof.
Sec. 6. Pre-trial brief. – The parties shall file with the court and serve on the adverse party, in such manner as shall ensure their receipt thereof at least three (3) days before the date of the pre-trial, their respective pre-trial briefs which shall contain, among others:
(a) A statement of their willingness to enter into amicable settlement or alternative modes of dispute resolution, indicating the desired terms thereof.
(b) A summary of admitted facts and proposed stipulation of facts;
(c) The issues to be tried or resolved;
(d) The documents or exhibits to be presented, stating the purpose thereof;
(e) A manifestation of their having availed or their intention to avail themselves of discovery procedures or referral to commissioners; and
(f) The number and names of the witnesses, and the substance of their respective testimonies.
Failure to file the pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre-trial.
Sec. 7. Record of pre-trial. – The proceedings in the pre-trial shall be recorded. Upon the termination thereof, the court shall issue an order which shall recite in detail the matters taken up in the conference, the action taken thereon, the amendments allowed to the pleadings, and the agreements or admissions made by the parties as to any of the matters considered. Should the action proceed to trial, the order shall explicitly define and limit the issues to be tried. The contents of the order shall control the subsequent course of the action, unless modified before trial to prevent manifest injustice.
Citibank v, Chua, 220 SCRA
Facts: Pre-Trial was set. Counsel of Citibank appeared w/ an SPOA executed by Citibank officer Tarriela in favor of the counsel to represent & bind Pet at the PT conference. Velezes, the private resps, moved to have Citibank declared “as in default” since SPOA was not executed by the Board of Directors. TC declared the bank “as in default.”
Held: TC should have accepted the first SPOA as sufficient for PT. SC admonished Courts vs. precipitate orders of default as they have the effect of denying the litigant the chance to be heard. There are instances when parties may properly be defaulted, but such is the EXC rather than the rule & should be allowed only in clear cases of obstinate refusal or inordinate neglect to comply w/ ct. orders.
Municipality of Binan v. Garcia, 180 SCRA
Facts: A special civil action for eminent domain/ expropriation. Defendant, instead of filing answer filed “MTD” on grounds not specified under Rule 16 (refer to Rule 16). Her MTD was filed pursuant to R67, S3 of the ROC : “Within the time specified in the summons, each defendant , in lieu of an answer, shall present in a single motion to dismiss of for other appropriate relief, all his objections & defenses to the right of the plaintiff to take his property for the use specified in the complaint.”
The TC :
c reversed the order of trial allowing defendant to present her evidence before the plaintiff &
c subsequently rendered order sustaining defendant’s defense & dismissing the action as to her, solely on her evidence
Rule: A MTD under Eminent Domain (R67) is really an answer. Thus if such MTD is filed (under R67), the order of trial remains under R30.
CAB: There was no valid cause to reverse the order of trial. MTD here partakes the nature of a pleading. Plaintiff should thus go first. What the trial ct. have in mind was the provision of Sec. 5, R16 allowing “any of the grounds for dismissal in R16 to “be pleaded as an affirmative defense” & authorizing the holding of a preliminary hearing x x thereon as if a MTD has been filed. Defendants defense however was not a ground for dismissal under R16. She meant to prove plaintiff’s lack of cause of action w/c is not the same as failure to state a cause of action. There is also nothing in the record to prove the Municipality’s waiver of right to present contrary proof.
Calendar of Cases
Consolidation or Severance
Source: University of the Philippines