- versus -
PATERNO LU YM, SR., PATERNO LU YM, JR., VICTOR LU YM, JOHN LU YM, KELLY LU YM, and LUDO & LUYM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,
x ------------------------------- x
PATERNO LU YM, SR., PATERNO LU YM, JR., VICTOR LU YM, JOHN LU YM, KELLY LU YM, and LUDO & LUYM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,
- versus -
x ------------------------------- x
JOHN LU YM and LUDO & LUYM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,
- versus -
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS OF
G.R. No. 153690
G.R. No. 157381
February 15, 2011
G.R. No. 170889
R E S O L U T I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the
petitions in G.R. Nos. 153690 and 157381 are DENIED for being moot and
academic; while the petition in G.R. No. 170889 is DISMISSED for lack of
merit. Consequently, the Status Quo
The Court of Appeals is DIRECTED to proceed with CA-G.R. CV No. 81163 and to resolve the same with dispatch.
which Decision was, on motion for reconsideration, the Court voting 4-1, reversed by Resolution of August 4, 2009, the dispositive portion of which reads:
in view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by John Lu Ym
and Ludo & LuYm Development Corporation is GRANTED. The Decision of this Court dated
All interlocutory matters challenged in these consolidated petitions are DENIED for being moot and academic.
Lu’s Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the Court En
Banc was denied by minute Resolution of
Following his receipt on October 19, 2009 of the minute Resolution, David Lu personally filed on October 30, 2009 a Second Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the Court En Banc. On even date, he filed through registered mail an “Amended Second Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the Court En Banc.” And on November 3, 2009, he filed a “Motion for Leave to File [a] Motion for Clarification[, and the] Second Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the Court En Banc.” He later also filed a “Supplement to Second Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Dismiss” dated January 6, 2010.
John Lu Ym and Ludo & Luym Development Corporation (LLDC), meanwhile, filed with leave a Motion for the Issuance of an Entry of Judgment of February 2, 2010, which merited an Opposition from David Lu.
compliance with the Court’s Resolution of
present cases were later referred to the Court en banc by Resolution of
Brief Statement of the Antecedents
The three consolidated cases stemmed from the complaint for “Declaration of Nullity of Share Issue, Receivership and Dissolution” filed on August 14, 2000 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City by David Lu, et al. against Paterno Lu Ym, Sr. and sons (Lu Ym father and sons) and LLDC.
By Decision of March 1, 2004, Branch 12 of the RTC ruled in favor of David et al. by annulling the issuance of the shares of stock subscribed and paid by Lu Ym father and sons at less than par value, and ordering the dissolution and asset liquidation of LLDC. The appeal of the trial court’s Decision remains pending with the appellate court in CA-G.R. CV No. 81163.
Several incidents arising from the complaint reached the Court through the present three petitions.
In G.R. No. 153690 wherein David, et al. assailed the appellate court’s resolutions dismissing their complaint for its incomplete signatory in the certificate of non-forum shopping and consequently annulling the placing of the subject corporation under receivership pendente lite, the Court, by Decision of August 26, 2008, found the issue to have been mooted by the admission by the trial court of David et al.’s Amended Complaint, filed by them pursuant to the trial court’s order to conform to the requirements of the Interim Rules of Procedure Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies.
Since an amended pleading supersedes the pleading that it amends, the original complaint of David, et al. was deemed withdrawn from the records.
The Court noted in G.R. No. 153690 that both parties admitted the mootness of the issue and that the trial court had already rendered a decision on the merits of the case. It added that the Amended Complaint stands since Lu Ym father and sons availed of an improper mode (via an Urgent Motion filed with this Court) to assail the admission of the Amended Complaint.
In G.R. No. 157381 wherein Lu Ym father and sons challenged the appellate court’s resolution restraining the trial court from proceeding with their motion to lift the receivership order which was filed during the pendency of G.R. No. 153690, the Court, by Decision of August 26, 2008 resolved that the issue was mooted by the amendment of the complaint and by the trial court’s decision on the merits. The motion having been filed ancillary to the main action, which main action was already decided on the merits by the trial court, the Court held that there was nothing more to enjoin.
G.R. No. 170889 involved the denial by the appellate court of Lu Ym father and sons’ application in CA-G.R. CV No. 81163 for a writ of preliminary injunction. By August 26, 2008 Decision, the Court dismissed the petition after finding no merit on their argument – which they raised for the first time in their motion for reconsideration before the appellate court – of lack of jurisdiction for non-payment of the correct RTC docket fees.
As reflected early on, the Court, in a turnaround, by Resolution of August 4, 2009, reconsidered its position on the matter of docket fees. It ruled that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case for David Lu, et al.’s failure to pay the correct docket fees, hence, all interlocutory matters and incidents subject of the present petitions must consequently be denied.
Taking Cognizance of the Present Incidents
The Internal Rules of the Supreme Court (IRSC) states that the Court en banc shall act on the following matters and cases:
(a) cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, executive order, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question;
(b) criminal cases in which the appealed decision imposes the death penalty or reclusion perpetua;
(c) cases raising novel questions of law;
(d) cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls;
(e) cases involving decisions, resolutions, and orders of the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Audit;
(f) cases where the penalty recommended or imposed is the dismissal of a judge, the disbarment of a lawyer, the suspension of any of them for a period of more than one year, or a fine exceeding forty thousand pesos;
(g) cases covered by the preceding paragraph and involving the reinstatement in the judiciary of a dismissed judge, the reinstatement of a lawyer in the roll of attorneys, or the lifting of a judge’s suspension or a lawyer’s suspension from the practice of law;
(h) cases involving the discipline of a Member of the Court, or a Presiding Justice, or any Associate Justice of the collegial appellate court;
(i) cases where a doctrine or principle laid down by the Court en banc or by a Division my be modified or reversed;
(j) cases involving conflicting decisions of two or more divisions;
(k) cases where three votes in a Division cannot be obtained;
(l) Division cases where the subject matter has a huge financial impact on businesses or affects the welfare of a community;
(m) Subject to Section 11 (b) of this rule, other division cases that, in the opinion of at least three Members of the Division who are voting and present, are appropriate for transfer to the Court en banc;
(n) cases that the Court en banc deems of sufficient importance to merit its attention; and
(o) all matters involving policy decisions in the administrative supervision of all courts and their personnel. (underscoring supplied)
The enumeration is an amalgamation of
SC Circular No. 2-89 (February 7, 1989), as amended by En Banc Resolution of
The present cases fall under at least three types of cases for consideration by the Court En Banc. At least three members of the Court’s Second Division (to which the present cases were transferred, they being assigned to a Member thereof) found, by Resolution of October 20, 2010, that the cases were appropriate for referral-transfer to the Court En Banc which subsequently accepted the referral in view of the sufficiently important reason to resolve all doubts on the validity of the challenged resolutions as they appear to modify or reverse doctrines or principles of law.
In Firestone Ceramics v. Court of Appeals, the Court treated the consolidated cases as En Banc cases and set the therein petitioners’ motion for oral argument, after finding that the cases were of sufficient importance to merit the Court En Banc’s attention. It ruled that the Court’s action is a legitimate and valid exercise of its residual power.
In Limketkai Sons Milling, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, the Court conceded that it is not infallible. Should any error of judgment be perceived, it does not blindly adhere to such error, and the parties adversely affected thereby are not precluded from seeking relief therefrom, by way of a motion for reconsideration. In this jurisdiction, rectification of an error, more than anything else, is of paramount importance.
x x x x
It bears stressing that where, as in the present case, the Court En Banc entertains a case for its resolution and disposition, it does so without implying that the Division of origin is incapable of rendering objective and fair justice. The action of the Court simply means that the nature of the cases calls for en banc attention and consideration. Neither can it be concluded that the Court has taken undue advantage of sheer voting strength. It was merely guided by the well-studied finding and sustainable opinion of the majority of its actual membership– that, indeed, subject cases are of sufficient importance meriting the action and decision of the whole Court. It is, of course, beyond cavil that all the members of this highest Court of the land are always embued with the noblest of intentions in interpreting and applying the germane provisions of law, jurisprudence, rules and Resolutions of the Court– to the end that public interest be duly safeguarded and rule of law be observed.
It is argued that the assailed Resolutions in the present cases have already become final, since a second motion for reconsideration is prohibited except for extraordinarily persuasive reasons and only upon express leave first obtained; and that once a judgment attains finality, it thereby becomes immutable and unalterable, however unjust the result of error may appear.
The contention, however, misses an important point. The doctrine of immutability of decisions applies only to final and executory decisions. Since the present cases may involve a modification or reversal of a Court-ordained doctrine or principle, the judgment rendered by the Special Third Division may be considered unconstitutional, hence, it can never become final. It finds mooring in the deliberations of the framers of the Constitution:
On proposed Section 3(4), Commissioner Natividad asked what the effect would be of a decision that violates the proviso that “no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the court in a decision rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the court en banc.” The answer given was that such a decision would be invalid. Following up, Father Bernas asked whether the decision, if not challenged, could become final and binding at least on the parties. Romulo answered that, since such a decision would be in excess of jurisdiction, the decision on the case could be reopened anytime. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
A decision rendered by a Division of this Court in violation of this constitutional provision would be in excess of jurisdiction and, therefore, invalid. Any entry of judgment may thus be said to be “inefficacious” since the decision is void for being unconstitutional.
While it is true that the Court en banc exercises no appellate jurisdiction over its Divisions, Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes opined in Firestone and concededly recognized that “[t]he only constraint is that any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court, either rendered en banc or in division, may be overturned or reversed only by the Court sitting en banc.”
That a judgment must become final at some definite point at the risk of occasional error cannot be appreciated in a case that embroils not only a general allegation of “occasional error” but also a serious accusation of a violation of the Constitution, viz., that doctrines or principles of law were modified or reversed by the Court’s Special Third Division August 4, 2009 Resolution.
The law allows a determination at first impression that a doctrine or principle laid down by the court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed in a case which would warrant a referral to the Court En Banc. The use of the word “may” instead of “shall” connotes probability, not certainty, of modification or reversal of a doctrine, as may be deemed by the Court. Ultimately, it is the entire Court which shall decide on the acceptance of the referral and, if so, “to reconcile any seeming conflict, to reverse or modify an earlier decision, and to declare the Court’s doctrine.”
The Court has the power and prerogative to suspend its own rules and to exempt a case from their operation if and when justice requires it, as in the present circumstance where movant filed a motion for leave after the prompt submission of a second motion for reconsideration but, nonetheless, still within 15 days from receipt of the last assailed resolution.
Well-entrenched doctrines or principles of law that went astray need to be steered back to their proper course. Specifically, as David Lu correctly points out, it is necessary to reconcile and declare the legal doctrines regarding actions that are incapable of pecuniary estimation, application of estoppel by laches in raising an objection of lack of jurisdiction, and whether bad faith can be deduced from the erroneous annotation of lis pendens.
Upon a considered, thorough
reexamination, the Court grants David Lu’s Motion for Reconsideration. The assailed Resolutions of
In the instant case, however, we cannot grant the dismissal prayed for because of the following reasons: First, the case instituted before the RTC is one incapable of pecuniary estimation. Hence, the correct docket fees were paid. Second, John and LLDC are estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the trial court because of their active participation in the proceedings below, and because the issue of payment of insufficient docket fees had been belatedly raised before the Court of Appeals, i.e., only in their motion for reconsideration. Lastly, assuming that the docket fees paid were truly inadequate, the mistake was committed by the Clerk of Court who assessed the same and not imputable to David; and as to the deficiency, if any, the same may instead be considered a lien on the judgment that may thereafter be rendered. (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The Value of the Subject Matter Cannot be Estimated
On the claim that the complaint had
for its objective the nullification of the issuance of 600,000 shares of stock
of LLDC, the real value of which based on underlying real estate values, as
alleged in the complaint, stands at
P1,087,055,105, the Court’s assailed
August 4, 2009 Resolution found:
Upon deeper reflection, we find that the movants’ [Lu Ym father & sons] claim has merit. The 600,000 shares of stock were, indeed, properties in litigation. They were the subject matter of the complaint, and the relief prayed for entailed the nullification of the transfer thereof and their return to LLDC. David, et al., are minority shareholders of the corporation who claim to have been prejudiced by the sale of the shares of stock to the Lu Ym father and sons. Thus, to the extent of the damage or injury they allegedly have suffered from this sale of the shares of stock, the action they filed can be characterized as one capable of pecuniary estimation. The shares of stock have a definite value, which was declared by plaintiffs [David Lu, et al.] themselves in their complaint. Accordingly, the docket fees should have been computed based on this amount. This is clear from the following version of Rule 141, Section 7, which was in effect at the time the complaint was filed[.] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The said Resolution added that the value of the 600,000 shares of stock, which are the properties in litigation, should be the basis for the computation of the filing fees. It bears noting, however, that David, et al. are not claiming to own these shares. They do not claim to be the owners thereof entitled to be the transferees of the shares of stock. The mention of the real value of the shares of stock, over which David, et al. do not, it bears emphasis, interpose a claim of right to recovery, is merely narrative or descriptive in order to emphasize the inequitable price at which the transfer was effected.
The assailed August 4, 2009 Resolution also stated that “to the extent of the damage or injury [David, et al.] allegedly have suffered from this sale,” the action “can be characterized as one capable of pecuniary estimation.” The Resolution does not, however, explore the value of the extent of the damage or injury. Could it be the pro rata decrease (e.g., from 20% to 15%) of the percentage shareholding of David, et al. vis-à-vis to the whole?
Whatever property, real or personal, that would be distributed to the stockholders would be a mere consequence of the main action. In the end, in the event LLDC is dissolved, David, et al. would not be getting the value of the 600,000 shares, but only the value of their minority number of shares, which are theirs to begin with.
The complaint filed by David, et al. is one for declaration of nullity of share issuance. The main relief prayed for both in the original complaint and the amended complaint is the same, that is, to declare null and void the issuance of 600,000 unsubscribed and unissued shares to Lu Ym father and sons, et al. for a price of 1/18 of their real value, for being inequitable, having been done in breach of director’s fiduciary’s duty to stockholders, in violation of the minority stockholders’ rights, and with unjust enrichment.
As judiciously discussed in the Court’s August 26, 2008 Decision, the test in determining whether the subject matter of an action is incapable of pecuniary estimation is by ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. It explained:
x x x To be sure, the annulment of the shares, the dissolution of the corporation and the appointment of receivers/management committee are actions which do not consist in the recovery of a sum of money. If, in the end, a sum of money or real property would be recovered, it would simply be the consequence of such principal action. Therefore, the case before the RTC was incapable of pecuniary estimation. (italics in the original, emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Actions which the Court has recognized as being incapable of pecuniary estimation include legality of conveyances. In a case involving annulment of contract, the Court found it to be one which cannot be estimated:
Petitioners argue that an action for annulment or rescission of a contract of sale of real property is a real action and, therefore, the amount of the docket fees to be paid by private respondent should be based either on the assessed value of the property, subject matter of the action, or its estimated value as alleged in the complaint, pursuant to the last paragraph of §7(b) of Rule 141, as amended by the Resolution of the Court dated September 12, 1990. Since private respondents alleged that the land, in which they claimed an interest as heirs, had been sold for P4,378,000.00 to petitioners, this amount should be considered the estimated value of the land for the purpose of determining the docket fees.
On the other hand, private respondents counter that an action for annulment or rescission of a contract of sale of real property is incapable of pecuniary estimation and, so, the docket fees should be the fixed amount of P400.00 in Rule 141, §7(b)(1). In support of their argument, they cite the cases of Lapitan v. Scandia, Inc. and Bautista v. Lim. In Lapitan this Court, in an opinion by Justice J.B.L. Reyes, held:
A review of the jurisprudence of this Court indicates that in determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary estimation, this Court has adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts of first instance would depend on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of money, or where the money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, like in suits to have the defendant perform his part of the contract (specific performance) and in actions for support, or for annulment of a judgment or to foreclose a mortgage, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable exclusively by courts of first instance. The rationale of the rule is plainly that the second class cases, besides the determination of damages, demand an inquiry into other factors which the law has deemed to be more within the competence of courts of first instance, which were the lowest courts of record at the time that the first organic laws of the Judiciary were enacted allocating jurisdiction (Act 136 of the Philippine Commission of June 11, 1901).
Actions for specific performance of contracts have been
expressly pronounced to be exclusively cognizable by courts of first instance: De
Jesus vs. Judge Garcia, L-26816,
IN FINE, the Court holds that David Lu, et al.’s complaint is one incapable of pecuniary estimation, hence, the correct docket fees were paid. The Court thus proceeds to tackle the arguments on estoppel and lien, mindful that the succeeding discussions rest merely on a contrary assumption, viz., that there was deficient payment.
Estoppel Has Set In
Assuming arguendo that the docket fees were insufficiently paid, the doctrine of estoppel already applies.
The assailed August 4, 2009 Resolution cited Vargas v. Caminas on the non-applicability of the Tijam doctrine where the issue of jurisdiction was, in fact, raised before the trial court rendered its decision. Thus the Resolution explained:
Next, the Lu Ym father and sons filed a motion for the lifting of the receivership order, which the trial court had issued in the interim. David, et al., brought the matter up to the CA even before the trial court could resolve the motion. Thereafter, David, at al., filed their Motion to Admit Complaint to Conform to the Interim Rules Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies. It was at this point that the Lu Ym father and sons raised the question of the amount of filing fees paid. They also raised this point again in the CA when they appealed the trial court’s decision in the case below.
We find that, in the circumstances, the Lu Ym father and sons are not estopped from challenging the jurisdiction of the trial court. They raised the insufficiency of the docket fees before the trial court rendered judgment and continuously maintained their position even on appeal to the CA. Although the manner of challenge was erroneous – they should have addressed this issue directly to the trial court instead of the OCA – they should not be deemed to have waived their right to assail the jurisdiction of the trial court. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Lu Ym father and sons did not raise the issue before the trial court. The narration of facts in the Court’s original decision shows that Lu Ym father and sons merely inquired from the Clerk of Court on the amount of paid docket fees on January 23, 2004. They thereafter still “speculat[ed] on the fortune of litigation.” Thirty-seven days later or on March 1, 2004 the trial court rendered its decision adverse to them.
Meanwhile, Lu Ym father and sons attempted to verify the matter of docket fees from the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA). In their Application for the issuance a writ of preliminary injunction filed with the Court of Appeals, they still failed to question the amount of docket fees paid by David Lu, et al. It was only in their Motion for Reconsideration of the denial by the appellate court of their application for injunctive writ that they raised such issue.
Lu Ym father and sons’ further inquiry from the OCA cannot redeem them. A mere inquiry from an improper office at that, could not, by any stretch, be considered as an act of having raised the jurisdictional question prior to the rendition of the trial court’s decision. In one case, it was held:
Here it is beyond dispute that respondents paid the full amount of docket fees as assessed by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 17, where they filed the complaint. If petitioners believed that the assessment was incorrect, they should have questioned it before the trial court. Instead, petitioners belatedly question the alleged underpayment of docket fees through this petition, attempting to support their position with the opinion and certification of the Clerk of Court of another judicial region. Needless to state, such certification has no bearing on the instant case. (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring in the original)
The inequity resulting from the abrogation of the whole proceedings at this late stage when the decision subsequently rendered was adverse to the father and sons is precisely the evil being avoided by the equitable principle of estoppel.
No Intent to Defraud the Government
Assuming arguendo that the docket fees paid were insufficient, there is no proof of bad faith to warrant a dismissal of the complaint, hence, the following doctrine applies:
x x x In Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., (SIOL) v. Asuncion, this Court ruled that the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the prescribed docket fee vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action. If the amount of docket fees paid is insufficient considering the amount of the claim, the clerk of court of the lower court involved or his duly authorized deputy has the responsibility of making a deficiency assessment. The party filing the case will be required to pay the deficiency, but jurisdiction is not automatically lost. (underscoring supplied)
The assailed Resolution of August 4, 2009 held, however, that the above-quoted doctrine does not apply since there was intent to defraud the government, citing one attendant circumstance– the annotation of notices of lis pendens on real properties owned by LLDC. It deduced:
From the foregoing, it is clear that a notice of lis pendens is availed of mainly in real actions. Hence, when David, et al., sought the annotation of notices of lis pendens on the titles of LLDC, they acknowledged that the complaint they had filed affected a title to or a right to possession of real properties. At the very least, they must have been fully aware that the docket fees would be based on the value of the realties involved. Their silence or inaction to point this out to the Clerk of Court who computed their docket fees, therefore, becomes highly suspect, and thus, sufficient for this Court to conclude that they have crossed beyond the threshold of good faith and into the area of fraud. Clearly, there was an effort to defraud the government in avoiding to pay the correct docket fees. Consequently, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case.
All findings of fraud should begin the exposition with the presumption of good faith. The inquiry is not whether there was good faith on the part of David, et al., but whether there was bad faith on their part.
The erroneous annotation of a notice of lis pendens does not negate good faith. The overzealousness of a party in protecting pendente lite his perceived interest, inchoate or otherwise, in the corporation’s properties from depletion or dissipation, should not be lightly equated to bad faith.
That notices of lis pendens were erroneously annotated on the titles does not have the effect of changing the nature of the action. The aggrieved party is not left without a remedy, for they can move to cancel the annotations. The assailed August 4, 2009 Resolution, however, deemed such act as an acknowledgement that the case they filed was a real action, concerning as it indirectly does the corporate realties, the titles of which were allegedly annotated. This conclusion does not help much in ascertaining the filing fees because the value of these real properties and the value of the 600,000 shares of stock are different.
Further, good faith can be gathered from the series of amendments on the provisions on filing fees, that the Court was even prompted to make a clarification.
When David Lu, et al. filed the Complaint on August 14, 2000 or five days after the effectivity of the Securities Regulation Code or Republic Act No. 8799, the then Section 7 of Rule 141 was the applicable provision, without any restricted reference to paragraphs (a) and (b) 1 & 3 or paragraph (a) alone. Said section then provided:
SEC. 7. Clerks of Regional Trial Courts. –
(a) For filing an action or a permissive counterclaim or money claim against an estate not based on judgment, or for filing with leave of court a third-party, fourth-party, etc. complaint, or a complaint in intervention, and for all clerical services in the same, if the total sum claimed, exclusive of interest, or the stated value of the property in litigation, is:
x x x x
(b) For filing:
1. Actions where the value of the subject matter cannot be estimated
……….….. x x x
2. Special civil actions except judicial foreclosure of mortgage which shall be governed by paragraph (a) above
…...….……. x x x
3. All other actions not involving property
……….…… x x x
In a real action, the assessed value of the property, or if there is none, the estimated value thereof shall be alleged by the claimant and shall be the basis in computing the fees.
x x x x (emphasis supplied)
The Court, by Resolution of
Clarification has been sought on the legal fees to be collected and the period of appeal applicable in cases formerly cognizable by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It appears that the Interim Rules of Procedure on Corporate Rehabilitation and the Interim Rules of Procedure for Intra-Corporate Controversies do not provide the basis for the assessment of filing fees and the period of appeal in cases transferred from the Securities and Exchange Commission to particular Regional Trial Courts.
The nature of the above mentioned cases should first be ascertained. Section 3(a), Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines civil action as one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong. It further states that a civil action may either be ordinary or special, both being governed by the rules for ordinary civil actions subject to the special rules prescribed for special civil actions. Section 3(c) of the same Rule, defines a special proceeding as a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact.
Applying these definitions, the cases covered by the Interim Rules for Intra-Corporate Controversies should be considered as ordinary civil actions. These cases either seek the recovery of damages/property or specific performance of an act against a party for the violation or protection of a right. These cases are:
(1) Devices or schemes employed by, or any act of, the board of directors, business associates, officers or partners, amounting to fraud or misrepresentation which may be detrimental to the interest of the public and/or of the stockholders, partners, or members of any corporation, partnership, or association;
(2) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate, partnership, or association relations, between and among stockholders, members or associates; and between, any or all of them and the corporation, partnership, or association of which they are stockholders, members or associates, respectively;
(3) Controversies in the election or appointment of directors, trustees, officers, or managers of corporations, partnerships, or associations;
(4) Derivative suits; and
(5) Inspection of corporate books.
On the other hand, a petition for rehabilitation, the procedure for which is provided in the Interim Rules of Procedure on Corporate Recovery, should be considered as a special proceeding. It is one that seeks to establish the status of a party or a particular fact. As provided in section 1, Rule 4 of the Interim Rules on Corporate Recovery, the status or fact sought to be established is the inability of the corporate debtor to pay its debts when they fall due so that a rehabilitation plan, containing the formula for the successful recovery of the corporation, may be approved in the end. It does not seek a relief from an injury caused by another party.
Section 7 of Rule 141 (Legal Fees) of the Revised Rules of Court lays the amount of filing fees to be assessed for actions or proceedings filed with the Regional Trial Court. Section 7(a) and (b) apply to ordinary civil actions while 7(d) and (g) apply to special proceedings.
In fine, the basis for computing the filing fees in intra-corporate cases shall be section 7(a) and (b) l & 3 of Rule 141. For petitions for rehabilitation, section 7(d) shall be applied. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The new Section
21(k) of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 04-2-04-SC (
By referring the computation of such docket fees to paragraph (a) only, it denotes that an intra-corporate controversy always involves a property in litigation, the value of which is always the basis for computing the applicable filing fees. The latest amendments seem to imply that there can be no case of intra-corporate controversy where the value of the subject matter cannot be estimated. Even one for a mere inspection of corporate books.
If the complaint were filed today, one could safely find refuge in the express phraseology of Section 21 (k) of Rule 141 that paragraph (a) alone applies.
In the present case, however, the original Complaint was filed on August 14, 2000 during which time Section 7, without qualification, was the applicable provision. Even the Amended Complaint was filed on March 31, 2003 during which time the applicable rule expressed that paragraphs (a) and (b) l & 3 shall be the basis for computing the filing fees in intra-corporate cases, recognizing that there could be an intra-corporate controversy where the value of the subject matter cannot be estimated, such as an action for inspection of corporate books. The immediate illustration shows that no mistake can even be attributed to the RTC clerk of court in the assessment of the docket fees.
Finally, assuming there was deficiency in paying the docket fees and assuming further that there was a mistake in computation, the deficiency may be considered a lien on the judgment that may be rendered, there being no established intent to defraud the government.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Resolutions of August 4, 2009 and September 23, 2009 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Court’s Decision of August 26, 2008 is REINSTATED.
The Court of Appeals is DIRECTED to resume the proceedings and resolve the remaining issues with utmost dispatch in CA-G.R. CV No. 81163.
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
I join the dissent of Mr. Justice Nachura
RENATO C. CORONA
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Please see dissenting opinion
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
ARTURO D. BRION
I join the dissent of Justice Nachura
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
See concurring opinion
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
With concurring opinion
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
ROBERTO A. ABAD
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I hereby certify that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.
RENATO C. CORONA
 Third Division: Ynares-Santiago (chairperson), Carpio Morales (additional member), Chico-Nazario, Nachura (ponente), and Reyes, JJ.
v. Lu Ym, Sr., G.R. No. 153690,
 Special Third Division: Ynares-Santiago (chairperson), Carpio Morales (dissenting), Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr. (additional member), Nachura (ponente), JJ.
v. Lu Ym, Sr., G.R. No. 153690,
No. 10-4-20-SC (
 IRSC, Rule 2, Sec. 11(b).
 Id. at 473-474; vide People v. Ebio, G.R. No. 147750, September 29, 2004, 439 SCRA 421, where the Court, on motion for reconsideration raising a question of quorum, recalled a Decision rendered en banc and resubmitted the case to the Court en banc for re-deliberation.
 Unlike Firestone which involved a timely motion for reconsideration. Likewise differentiated from Firestone is the Sumilao case, Fortich v. Corona (G.R. No. 131457). In the latter case, however, before the “matter” of the motion for reconsideration was brought to the Banc en consulta, it had already been voted upon by the Second Division with a vote of 2-2, a stalemate constituting a denial of the motion.
 Rollo (G.R. No. 170889), pp. 1481 & 1507 et seq., citing Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco, G.R. No. 109645, March 4, 1996, 254 SCRA 234, as reiterated in Systra Philippines, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 176290, September 21, 2007, 533 SCRA 776.
 Bernas, The Intent of the 1986 Constitution Writers, (1995), p. 517.
 Group Commander, Intelligence and Security Group, Philippine Army v. Dr. Malvar, 438 Phil. 252, 279 (2002).
 Manila Electric Company v. Barlis,
G.R. No. 114231,
 Firestone Ceramics v. Court of Appeals, supra at 478.
 Vir-jen Shipping and Marine
Services, Inc. v. NLRC, Nos. L-58011-12,
 Destileria Limtuaco & Co,
Inc. v. IAC, No. L-74369,
 Supra note 2 at 274.
 Supra note 4 at 88-89.
 Supra note 2 at 275-276.
 De Leon v. CA, 350 Phil. 535, 540-542 (1998).
Nos. 137869 & 137940,
 Supra note 4 at 94.
 Supra note 2 at 277.
 Rivera v. del Rosario, 464 Phil. 783, 797 (2004).
 Supra note 4 at 92.
 The statute was issued on
 Vide A.M. No.
 Effective October 1, 2001.
 The amendments took effect on
 Sub-paragraphs (1) and (3) remain unchanged except for the increase in the amounts of fees.