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Sun Insurance Office, Ltd.

vs Honorable Judge Asuncion


FACTS: Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (petitioner) was sued by Manuel Tiong (private respondent) before
the Quezon City RTC in 1984. In the body of his complaint, Tiong claimed damages amounting to
Php50 million. But said amount was not mentioned in his prayer. He paid a docket fee of Php210.00
therefor.
At that time, courts in Quezon City were being investigated by the Supreme Court for underassessment of docket fees. In 1986, Judge Maximiano Asuncion ordered Tiong to amend his complaint
so that the proper docket fee may be computed. Tiong complied and in his amended complaint, the
body thereof discussed a damage amounting to Php44 million but the prayer asked for damages not
less than Php10 million.
Based on the not less than Php10 million prayer, the clerk of court assessed a docket fee of
P39,786.00 which Tiong paid. Later, Tiong filed a supplemental complaint where he was asking an
additional Php20 million in damages. He later paid an additional docket fee therefor of Php80,396.00.
The same was admitted by Judge Asuncion.
Sun Insurance questioned said order raising the issue to the CA on certiorari. Sun Insurance invoked
the ruling in Manchester Development vs CA where it was ruled that the court does not acquire
jurisdiction over a case if the proper docket fee was not paid; that the defect cannot be cured by a
supplemental complaint because if the proper docket fee was not paid in the first place, then there is no
original complaint to supplement nor amend.
The CA ruled that Judge Asuncion is correct but that Tiong must pay an additional docket fee of
Php62,432.90, Tiong complied.
Petitioners contend that the lower court acquired no jurisdiction because the docket fee paid was
insufficient considering the money sought to be recovered.
Private respondent claims that the ruling in Manchester cannot apply retroactively to Civil Case No. Q41177 for at the time said civil case was led in court there was no such Manchester ruling as yet.
Further, private respondent avers that what is applicable is the ruling of this Court in Magaspi v.
Ramolete, wherein this Court held that the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the case even if the
docket fee paid was insuficient.
ISSUE: Whether the lower court acquired jurisdiction.
HELD: YES, it acquired jurisdiction.
The SC ruled that the Manchester ruling can apply retroactively. Statutes regulating the procedure of
the courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their
passage. Procedural laws are retrospective in that sense and to that extent.
However, the ruling in Manchester was relaxed by the court in this case because Tiong showed his
willingness to pay the additional docket fees unlike in the case of Manchester where Manchester
Development intended to defraud the government by intentionally omitting the amount of damages it
claimed in the prayer of their complaint.

The Supreme Court also laid down the following rules on docket fees:
1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the payment of the
prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the
action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the
court may allow payment of the fee within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable
prescriptive or reglementary period.
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third party claims and similar pleadings, which
shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed therefor is paid. The court may
also allow payment of said fee within a reasonable time but also in no case beyond its applicable
prescriptive or reglementary period.
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate pleading and
payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards a claim not specified in the
pleading, or if specified the same has been left for determination by the court, the additional filing fee
therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his
duly authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee.
Tacay vs RTC
FACTS: Godofredo Pineda filed 3 different actions for recovery of possession of a parcel of land
against Antonia Noel, Ponciano Panes and Maximo Tacay (petitioners). The previous owner of said
land had allowed petitioners to occupy portions of the land by mere tolerance. The cases over Noel and
Tacay were raffled to Branch I of the RTC of Tagum presided over Judge Hernandez, while the case
against Panes was assigned to Branch 2, presided over by Judge Matas. Petitioners filed a motion to
dismiss alleging that there was a failure to specify all the amounts of damages being claimed from them
and a failure to even allege the basic requirement as to the assessed value of the subject lot in dispute.
Judge Matas denied the motion to dismiss but ordered the expunction of the allegation in the complaint
regarding moral and nominal damages, later, Judge Matas also ordered the striking out of the
handwritten words "P5,000.00 as and for" including the typewritten words "actual damages as proven"
which were next to it.
Judge Fernandez also denied the motions to dismiss, ordering the expunction of the moral, nominal and
actual damages claims. Petitioners filed with this court a "Joint Petition" for certiorari, prohibition, and
mandamus, with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary prohibitory
injunction, praying essentially that the respondent judges dismiss all the complaints w/o prejudice to
Pineda re-filing a similar complaint. They alleged that the proposition that because the complaints had
failed to state the amounts being claimed as actual, moral and nominal damages, the Trial Courts a quo
had not acquired jurisdiction over the three. They added that it was not proper to merely expunge the
claims for damages and to allow the so-called cause of action for 'reivindicatoria' to remain for trial by
itself.
ISSUE: Whether the respondent Judges actions were proper
HELD: Yes, they correctly applied the law to the admitted facts.
It is true that the complaints do not state the amounts being claimed as actual, moral and nominal

damages. It is also true, however, that the actions are not basically for the recovery of sums of money.
They are principally for recovery of possession of real property, in the nature of an accion publiciana.
Determinative of the court's jurisdiction in this type of actions is the nature thereof, not the amount of
the damages allegedly arising from or connected with the issue of title or possession, and regardless of
the value of the property.
Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 provides that Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction inter alia over "all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or
any interest therein, except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings,
original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts,
and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.
The rule applies regardless of the value of the real property involved, whether it be worth more than
P20,000.00 or not, infra. The rule also applies even where the complaint involving realty also prays for
an award of damages; the amount of those damages would be immaterial to the question of the Court's
jurisdiction.
The rule in Circular No. 7 of this Court, dated March 24, 1988 does not apply. Where the action
involves real property and a related claim for damages as well, the legal fees shall be assessed on the
basis of both (a) the value of the property and (b) the total amount of related damages sought. The
Court acquires jurisdiction over the action if the Gling of the initiatory pleading is accompanied by the
payment of the requisite fees, or, if the fees are not paid at the time of the Gling of the pleading, as of
the time of full payment of the fees within such reasonable time as the court may grant, unless, of
course, prescription has set in the meantime.
But where as in the case at bar the fees prescribed for an action involving real property have been
paid, but the amounts of certain of the related damages (actual, moral and nominal) being demanded
are unspecified, the action may not be dismissed. The Court undeniably has jurisdiction over the action
involving the real property, acquiring it upon the Gling of the complaint or similar pleading and
payment of the prescribed fee. And it is not divested of that authority by the circumstance that it may
not have acquired jurisdiction over the accompanying claims or damages because of lack of
speciGcation thereof. What should be done is simply to expunge those claims for damages as to which
no amounts are stated, which is what the respondent Courts did, or allow, on motion, a reasonable time
for the amendment of the complaints so as to allege the precise amount of each item of damages and
accept payment of the requisite fees therefor within the relevant prescriptive period.
Ayala Corporation vs Honorable Judge Madayag
FACTS: Private Respondents (Spouses Camilo and Marlene Sabio), filed an action for specific
performance with damages against petitioners (Ayala Corporation, Las Pinas Ventures, Inc., and
Filipinas Life Assurance Company Inc.) with the RTC of Makati. Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss
on the ground that the lower court has not acquired jurisdiction over the case since private respondents
failed to pay the prescribed docket fee and to specify the amount of exemplary damages both in the
body and prayer of the amended and supplemental complaint. Petitioners claimed that the amount of
the docket fees to be paid should be computed on the basis of the amount of the damages stated in the
complaint.
The TC denied the motion stating that the determination of the exemplary damages is within the sound
discretion of the court and thus respondents need not have specified it. A subsequent motion for

consideration was also denied, thus this petition.


ISSUE: Whether the amount of exemplary damages sought should be stated in the complaint
HELD: Yes, it should be specified. The trial court misinterpreted the rules laid down in the case of Sun
Insurance vs. Judge Asuncion which they cited, the relevant passage being the following: "Where the
trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate pleading and payment of
the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading,
or if specified, the same has been left for determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor
shall constitute a lien on the judgment."
The trial court considered this to mean that there is no need to specify the amount to be sought, because
the determination of the award of damages is within the court's discretion. While it is true that the
determination of certain damages as exemplary or corrective damages is left to the sound discretion of
the court, it is the duty of the parties claiming such damages to specify the amount sought on the basis
of which the court may make a proper determination, and for the proper assessment of the appropriate
docket feels. The exception contemplated as to claims not specified or to claims although specified are
left for determination of the court is limited only to any damages that may arise after the filing of the
complaint or similar pleading for then it will not be possible for the claimant to specify nor speculate as
to the amount thereof.
The trial court was thus ordered to either expunge from the record the claim for exemplary damages or
give private respondents time to amend their pleading.