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Can a case be dismissed upon failure of the plaintiff to appear at a pretrial conference?

Velayos Digest Dismissal of Actions 1971 - Volume A, p. 621 7. Dismissal of complaint for failure of party and counsel to appear at the pre-trial. The trial court erred in dismissing the complaint for failure of the plaintiff to appear at the pre-trial conference where it appears that the defendant has previously filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and the trial court has granted the plaintiff a certain number of days within which to file his opposition. Firstly, it was improper for the defendant to have the plaintiff declared non-suited for failure to appear at the pre-trial conference while in the same breath have the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction of the court to hear the same. Secondly, the trial court should have resolved first the question of jurisdiction before proceeding with the pre-trial conference. Lastly, the trial courts order giving appellants counsel a period of ten (10) days from February 13, 1965 or until February 23, 1965, within which to file his opposition to the motion to dismiss, in effect, superseded the agreement of the parties to hold a pre-trial conference,. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. vs. U.S. Lines Co., L-24861 October 29, 1971 42 SCRA 54 Velayos Digest Pre-Trial 1967 Volume B, p. 714 1. Under Section 1 of Rule 20 of the Revised Rules, pre-trial is mandatory. Section 2, Rule 20 of the new Rules of Court says that a party who fails to appear at a pre-trial conference may be non-suited or considered in default. This shows the purpose of the Rules to compel the parties to appear personally before the court to reach, if possible, a compromise. Accordingly, the court is given the discretion to dismiss the case should plaintiff not appear at the pre-trial. Home Insurance Co. vs. US Line Co., et. al. L-25593 November 15, 1967 21 SCRA 863 5. A party who fails to be present in a pre-trial conference cannot be declared in default for his failure to be present in a pre-trial conference, even if his counsel is present therein. Appearances of a party in a case is satisfied by the appearance of his counsel unless the Rules expressly so requires that the party be personally present, as when the presence of the accused is required in all stages of the criminial proceeding.

In the case of Gancayo et al. vs. Benitez, G.R. Nos. L-11335 and L-11450, October 30, 1958, it was held that appearance of the defendant may be made personally by counsel or in writing. Quizan vs. Arellano, et al., G.R. No. L-4461, December 20, 1951, the SC ruled that defendant was declared in default for non-apperance in the scheduled hearing but where he was represented by his lawyer, his being declared in default was an error. Likewise where the defendant files a written motion for postponement of the trial, the SC considered the motion sufficient even if he doesnt appear personally. Herbulario vs. Santos et al., CA-G.R. No. 33756-R, January 20, 1967 A defendant who fails to appear at pre-trial cant be declared in default if represented by counsel. Publico vs. Hon. Masakayan et al., CA-G.R. No. 38831-R, May 26, 1967 Velayos Digest 1971 Volume C Pre-Trial 2. While pre-trial is mandatory, the default of a party who fails to comply therewith rests within the discretion of the court. The rule is addressed to the sound discretion of trial court. Rice and Corn Administration vs. Ong Ante, L-30558 October 4, 1971 41 SCRA 636 SCRA Quick Index-Digest 1990 Pre-Trial Court consistently held that a pre-trial is mandatory; promote amicable settlement. Paz vs. CA 181 SCRA 26 Failure of counsel for defendant to appear at the pre-trial is inexcusable. Agravante vs. Patriarca 183 SCRA 113 Since the failure of the petitioner to appear at the pre-trial wasnt due to fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence, the trial courts order declaring her nonsuited is proper. Franco vs. Intermediate Appellate Court 190 SCRA 373 Republic of the Philippines Digest OHHH where the Official Gazettes are :) Dismissal and Discontinuance of Actions (no pre-trial index) Supplement 1958-66 Volume 12

Grounds for Dismissal of a case 20. Non-attendance An order or dismissal for non-appearance of the parties is pursuant to 3 of Rule 17 of the Rules of Court, an adjudication upon the merits unless otherwise provided by the court, and where no appeal has been taken from said order, the same has, accordingly become final and executory so as to extinguish the obligation demanded in said action. Abustan vs. Ferrer 64 OG 7252 Ballesteros vs. Caoile 59 OG 1060 May 31, 1961 TC could dismiss a complaint in intervention for failure of intervener and his counsel to appear at the pre-trial. Vda. De Caina vs. Judge Reyes 58 OG 4745 May 30, 1960