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7107 ISLANDS PUBLISHING, INC., Petitioner, v.

THE HOUSE PRINTERS


CORPORATION, Respondent.

G.R. No. 193420, October 14, 2015

BRION, J.:*

FACTS:

On 25 July 2006, respondent The House Printers Corporation (House Printers) filed a
complaint for a sum of money and damages against the 7107 Islands Publishing, Inc. (7107
Publishing) before the RTC. House Printers alleged that 7107 Publishing refused to pay for
PHP 1,178,700.00 worth of magazines it purchased in 2005. The complaint was docketed
as Civil Case No. Q-06-58473. Manuel S. Paguyo, Sheriff IV, served the summons and a
copy of the complaint on 7107 publishing through its Chief Accountant Laarni Milan. Sheriff
Paguyo explained on his return that the President and the in-house counsel were not at the
office when he arrived so he served the summons on the highest ranking officer.
On 16 August 2006, 7107 Publishing filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the RTC
failed to acquire jurisdiction over its person. Petitioner argued that if the defendant was a
corporation, service of summons could only be made on the president, managing partner,
general manager, corporate secretary, treasurer, or in-house counsel pursuant to Rule 14,
Section 11 of the Rules of Court.

The RTC denied the motion for reconsideration. It held that although a Chief
Accountant was not included in the enumeration under Rule 14, Section 11, Chief Accountant
Milan was able to turn over the summons and the complaint to the defendants; therefore, the
purpose of Rule 14 was attained. The petitioner manifested before the CA that it had filed a
petition for certiorari on 2 October 2009, the CA dismissed the petition outright because the
petitioner failed to pay the docket and the other legal fees.

On 18 December 2009, 7107 Publishing moved for the reconsideration of the dismissal. It
explained that: (1) it was constrained to file the petition by registered mail on 2 October
2009, prior to the last day of the reglementary period; (2) on 7 October 2009, petitioner's
counsel went to the RTC to give an advance copy of the petition and pay the docket and other
lawful fees; (3) however, the court personnel at the receiving section refused to accept
payment; (4) instead, the court personnel instructed the petitioner to file a manifestation that
the petition was filed by registered mail then wait until the CA receives and dockets the
petition, to avoid double docketing and double payment; (5) the petitioner complied and was
instructed by the Civil Cases Section to wait for a notice from the CA to pay the docket fees;
(6) petitioner relied in good faith on the court personnel's advice, but the notice to pay never
arrived; (7) instead, the petitioner received the 10 November 2009 order of dismissal on 14
December 2009. The petitioner prayed for the CA to allow him to pay the required fees and
to give due course to the petition.
On 17 August 2010, the CA denied reconsideration. It held that even if the court personnel
refused to accept the petitioner's tender of payment, it could have simply paid the required
fees by postal, money order.

Hence this petition

Issue:

Whether or not the CA was not justified in dismissing its petition for certiorari for
nonpayment of the required fees because of the court personnel's refusal to accept its tender
of payment on four separate occasions.

Ruling:

The court ruled in the negative, as a rule the payment of docket fees is a condition sine
qua non. In the case at bar, the petitioner failed to substantiate his allegations that the Court
of Appeals personnel refused his offer of payment four times. The payment of docket fees,
like the rule of strict compliance in the service of summons, is not a mere technicality of
procedure but is an essential requirement of due process. Procedural rules are not to be set
aside simply because their strict application would prejudice a party's substantive rights. Like
all rules, they must be observed. They can only be relaxed for the most persuasive of reasons
where a litigant's degree of noncompliance with the rules is severely disproportionate to the
injustice he is bound to suffer as a consequence.

In rendering justice, courts have always been, as they ought to be, conscientiously
guided by the norm that on the balance, technicalities take a backseat against substantive
rights, and not the other way around.

[Language of the Law]

Under the Section 1 of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court it explains that payment of legal
fees should be complied with upon the filing of the pleading

SECTION 1. Payment of fees. – Upon the filing of the pleading or other


application which initiates an action or proceeding, the fees prescribed therefor shall be paid
in full.1

Even though procedural rules are liberally construed in order to promote their
objective, the parties involve should still do their best of efforts to comply with the procedural

1 Rule 141, Rules of Court


rules in order to avoid delay of Judicial Decision because as a rule in speedy disposition of
cases, Justice delayed is Justice denied.

[JUDICIAL DECISION]

In the case of Julian v. Development Bank of the Philippines, 2the importance of


paying Docket fees as part of procedures in court

“In the case at bench, the justifications presented by petitioner for the non-payment
of the docket fees are oversight and the lack of advice from his counsel. Unfortunately, the reasons
presented are neither convincing nor adequate to merit leniency. Petitioner submits that he only found
out about the requirement to pay the docket fees when he received the CA Resolution denying his
appeal on April 22, 2005 or three days short of one year from filing of the said appeal. This Court
finds this not to be logically true to human experience. It is unusual for petitioners counsel not to
advise him of the required docket fees. More often than not, counsels are aware of the docket fees
required to be paid to the courts, and will ask clients for the said amount prior to filing pleadings in
court. This is so because counsels are not expected to shoulder or advance payment for their
clients. Assuming arguendo that petitioners counsel did not inform him of the requirement to pay the
docket fees to perfect the appeal, what we find incredible is that petitioner apparently failed to
communicate with his counsel after the filing of said appeal. This Court has repeatedly held that
litigants, represented by counsel, should not expect that all they need to do is sit back, relax and
await the outcome of their case it is the duty of a party-litigant to be in contact with his counsel from
time to time in order to be informed of the progress of his case. Moreover, the counsel’s negligence
binds petitioner and, for that reason alone the loss of his remedy was caused by his own negligence
consequently, a relaxation of the rule cannot be granted. The bitter consequence of such grave
inadvertence is to render the trial courts order final and executory.”

The payment of docket fees, like the rule of strict compliance in the service of summons, is
not a mere technicality of procedure but is an essential requirement of due process. Procedural
rules are not to be set aside simply because their strict application would prejudice a party's
substantive rights. Like all rules, they must be observed. They can only be relaxed for the
most persuasive of reasons where a litigant's degree of noncompliance with the rules is
severely disproportionate to the injustice he is bound to suffer as a consequence.

The Court has consistently ruled in a number of cases that the payment of the full amount of
docket fees within the prescribed period is both mandatory and jurisdictional.It is a condition
sine qua non for the appeal to be perfected and only then can a court acquire jurisdiction over
the case.The requirement of an appeal fee is not a mere technicality of law or procedure and
should not be undermined except for the most persuasive of reasons. Non-observance would
be tantamount to no appeal being filed thereby rendering the challenged decision, resolution
or order final and executory.

[LAWS IN PARI MATERIA]

2 G.R. No. 174193, December 7, 2011


The primary contention of the petitioner was that the respondent failed to serve the service
of summons in accordance with Section 11 of Rule 14 of the Rules of court.

SEC. 11. Service upon domestic private juridical entity. - When the
defendant is a corporation, partnership or association organized under the laws of the
Philippines with a juridical personality, service may be made on the president, managing
partner, general manager, corporate secretary, treasurer, or in-house counsel.
(Emphasis supplied)

It has been settled for a long time that Section 11 of Rule 14 is list under the principle
of exclusion unius est exclusion alterius which the express mention of things, person, etc. is
the express exclusion of all others. Therefore, the respondent’s failure to serve the summon
to any officer’s under the Section 11 must have led to the dismissal of the case.

[GOLDEN RULE]

It has been a well settled rule in statutory construction that when the law is clear and
free from any ambiguity there is no room for interpretation. In the case of 7107 publishing
failure to pay the docket fees because of the non-acceptance of the officer of the court means
that they have incorrectly read and interpreted the law since it is clearly stated in Section 1
of Rule 141 of Rules of court that any legal fees must be paid by the party involved upon filing
of the said case.

The words in the said section should have been given its general meaning which implies
that any procedure of paying will be acceptable for as long as the condition sine qua non will
be complied with.