Universal Robina Corporation vs.

Alberto Lim
GR No. 154338, October 5, 2007
FACTS:
A contract of sale was made between petitioner Universal Robina Corporation
and respondent Albert Lim. In the contract, petitioner sold to respondent grocery
products in the amount of P808,060. After tendering partial payments, respondent
Lim refused to settle his obligation despite petitioner’s repeated demands. For this
reason, petitioner filed a complaint in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
However, the complaint was dismissed motu proprio on grounds of lack of
jurisdiction and improper venue because both parties are not from Quezon City.
Plaintiff corporation’s principal office is in Pasay City and defendant is from Laoag
City. Petitioner then filed a motion for reconsideration and an amended complaint
averring that both parties agreed that Quezon City is the proper venue for the
dispute. The trial court granted the motion and accepted their amended complaint.
Summons was served upon respondent. Afterwards, he was declared by the court in
default for his failure to file an answer on time. The court allowed petitioner to
present its own evidence.
The court directed petitioner to file a memorandum of authorities because it
is still unsure whether it is the proper venue for the case. Subsequently, the trial
court again dismissed the complaint on the ground of improper venue because it did
not find any connection between Quezon City and the parties, and said venue was
not even stated in the complaint. Petitioner again filed a motion for reconsideration
but it was denied by the trial court.
ISSUE:
Is it correct for the trial court to dismiss motu proprio petitioner’s complaint
on the ground of improper venue?
DECISION:
NO. It is not correct for the trial court to dismiss motu proprio petitioner’s
complaint on the ground of improper venue because under Section 1, Rule 9 of the
Rules of Court, it only provides four grounds for dismissal: (1) when the court has no
jurisdiction over the subject matter; (2) when there is pendency of another action
between the same parties for the same cause; (3) when the action is barred by prior
judgment; or (4) by statute of limitations. It is also implicit from the provision that
improper venue not impleaded in the motion to dismiss or in the answer is deemed
waived. Thus, a court may not dismiss an action motu proprio on the ground of
improper venue as it is not one of the grounds where the court may dismiss an
action motu proprio on the basis of the pleadings. The court should have waited for
a motion to dismiss or a responsive pleading from the respondent that raises the
objection or affirmative defense of improper venue, before dismissing the petition.