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The Mutuality Rule in the Philippines

The Mutuality Rule in the Philippines

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Ray Gilberto Espinosa on Jul 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/28/2011

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I. Introduction
 A. Why Judgments must be binding 
Civil procedure is a compilation of many rules. Rules such as thosegoverning jurisdiction, pleadings, motions and trial have been meticulously craftedso as to facilitate the fair processing of adjudication of issues coursed through thecourts of justice. All this efforts of providing a fair judgment to a party however,would be of no use to him if such a judgment does not bind the opposing party.Thus ultimately, the final settlement of disputes is the desire of every litigant. Allthe rules comprising civil procedure would all be for naught, if this were not theeffect when a court renders a judgment. Therefore res judicata, or in layman’s terms“a matter adjudged”, is important and central to the whole purpose of resorting tothe courts in “the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redressof a wrong.”
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 The impact of such binding effect however is underscored when oneconsiders the question as to who can invoke it and against whom. Thus consider thefollowing permutations of this question: can a prior party use res judicata as againstanother prior party; a prior party as against a nonparty; a nonparty as against a prior  party; and finally, a nonparty as against a nonparty? The current rule recognized by
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Rules of Court Rule 1 sec. 3 par. (a) (1997).
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Philippine jurisprudence is to allow only the first combination. The second and thelast combinations are not allowable because it is a person’s constitutional right to beheard before he is deprived of life, liberty and property. The third combinationhowever is disallowed because of the supposed imbalance of remedies created because of the existence of the second combination. Considering what has just beensaid however of the value of res judicata in civil procedure, the writer submits thatsuch prohibition does not necessarily equalize the playing field nor promotefairness and therefore such a policy requires a second look.The interest of the judicial system in preventing relitigation of the samedispute recognizes that judicial resources are finite and the number of cases that can be heard by the court is limited. Every dispute that is reheard means that another will be delayed. In modern times when court dockets are filled to overflowing, thisconcern is of critical importance. Res judicata thus conserves scarce judicialresources and promotes efficiency in the interest of the public at large.Once a final judgment has been rendered, the prevailing party also has aninterest in the stability of that judgment. Parties come to the courts in order toresolve controversies; a judgment would be of little use in resolving disputes if the parties were free to ignore it and to litigate the claims again and again. Although judicial determinations are not infallible, judicial error should be corrected throughappeals procedure. Not through repeated suits on the same claim. Further to allow3

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