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GENTLE SUPREME PHILIPPINES, INC. vs. RICARDO F.

CONSULTA
G.R. No. 183182
September 1, 2010
This case is about the service of summons on a corporation and its officers, allegedly
done improperly, resulting in the failure of the trial court to acquire jurisdiction over the
persons of the defendants and in the nullity of its proceedings.
FACTS: Petitioner Gentle Supreme Philippines, Inc. (GSP) filed a collection case with
application for a writ of preliminary attachment against Consar Trading Corporation
(CTC), its president Ricardo Consulta (Consulta), and its vice-president, Norberto
Sarayba (Sarayba) before the RTC of Pasig City. GSP alleged that CTC, through
Consulta and Sarayba, bought certain merchandise from it but refused to pay for them.
The sheriff failed to serve the summons and copies of the complaint on any of CTCs
authorized officers as well as on Consulta and Sarayba, he left copies of such
documents with Agnes Canave (Canave) who, according to the sheriffs return, was
Saraybas secretary and an authorized representative of both Sarayba and Consulta.
None of the defendants filed an answer to the complaint. After trial, the RTC ruled that
having defrauded GSP, defendants CTC, Consulta, and Sarayba were solidarily liable
for the value of the supplied goods plus attorneys fees and costs of the suit. And upon
motion, the RTC issued a writ of execution against the defendants.
Respondent Consulta filed a petition for annulment of the RTC decision before the
Court of Appeals (CA) on the ground that he was not properly served with summons
because, although his address stated in the complaint was his regular place of
business, Canave, who received the summons, was not in charge of the matter.
ISSUE: Whether or not there was a valid service of summons at defendants place of
business.
HELD: YES.There is valid substituted service of summons on Consulta at his place of
business with some competent person in charge thereof. According to the sheriffs
return, which is prima facie evidence of the facts it states, he served a copy of the
complaint on Canave, an authorized representative of both Consulta and Sarayba.
Besides Consultas bare allegations, he did not present evidence to rebut the
presumption of regularity on the manner that the sheriff performed his official duty. Nor
did Consulta present clear and convincing evidence that Canave was not competent to
receive the summons and the attached documents for him. In fact, Canave was a
person charged with authority to receive court documents for the company as well as its
officers who held office in that company. Absent contrary evidence, the veracity of the
returns content and its effectiveness stand.

The Court has ruled that "it is not necessary that the person in charge of the
defendants regular place of business be specifically authorized to receive the
summons. It is enough that he appears to be in charge." In this case, Canave, a
secretary whose job description necessarily includes receiving documents and other
correspondence, would have the semblance of authority to accept the court documents.
Further, Consulta does not deny a) that summons had been properly served on
Sarayba, his vice-president, through Canave at the companys office; b) that the
summons on him was served on the same occasion also through Canave; c) that the
sheriff had succeeded in garnishing his companys bank deposits; and d) that his
company subsequently made an offer to settle the judgment against it. The Court is not
dumb as to believe that Consulta became aware of the suit only when the sheriff served
a notice of execution sale covering his house and lot.