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Published: August 2018


Ramon G Songco Jewelle Ann Lou P Santos
Ramon G Songco and Jewelle Ann Lou P Santos
SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
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Outline and explain the general structure of your country’s court system as it relates to the
commercial appellate process.
Philippine appellate courts may either be regional, for cases originating from municipal or city
courts, or national, for cases originating from regional courts. There are also multiple levels of
appellate review since the Philippines observes the principle of judicial hierarchy.

Regional trial courts exercise both original and appellate jurisdiction. They exercise appellate
jurisdiction over all cases decided by metropolitan trial courts, municipal trial courts, municipal
trial court in cities and municipal circuit trial courts in their respective territorial jurisdictions.
Some regional trial courts are designated as special commercial courts to try and decide cases
involving violations of intellectual property rights and of Presidential Decree No. 902-A (or the
Securities and Exchange Commission Reorganisation Act), but special commercial courts retain
their appellate jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals and Supreme Court also exercise both original and appellate jurisdiction.
The Court of Appeals exercises exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments,
decisions, resolutions, orders or awards of regional trial courts and quasi-judicial agencies,
instrumentalities, boards or commissions, except for certain cases provided by law. The
Supreme Court exercises appellate jurisdiction by way of petition for review on certiorari over
judgments, final orders or resolutions of the Court of Appeals, the anti-graft court
(Sandiganbayan), the Court of Tax Appeals, the regional trial court or other courts, whenever
authorised by the Philippine Constitution and by law.

The Court of Tax Appeals is an appellate court that exercises jurisdiction over civil and criminal
tax cases, including appeals from rulings and assessments of the Bureau of Internal Revenue
and Bureau of Customs.

Are there appellate courts that hear only civil matters?
Philippine appellate courts entertain appeals for both civil and criminal cases.

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Are appeals from administrative tribunals handled in the same way as appeals from trial courts?
Generally, appeals from administrative tribunals performing quasi-judicial functions are heard by
the Court of Appeals and handled in the same manner as appeals in civil cases from the trial
courts. However, certain administrative agencies have their own rules governing periods for
lodging an appeal and the form of the appellate pleading to be filed. Philippine courts also follow
the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies, which provides that all administrative
remedies must be exhausted first before the courts’ judicial power may be sought (Republic v
Transunion Corporation, G R No. 191590, 21 April 2014).

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Is there a separate appellate bar or other requirement for attorneys to be admitted before
appellate courts?
There are no additional requirements for Philippine lawyers to engage in appellate practice. A
person licenced to practice law in this jurisdiction may engage in any activity, in or out of court,
which requires the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and experience
(Ulep v Legal Clinic, B M No. 553, 17 June 1993).

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If separate jurisdictions exist for particular territorial subdivisions or subject matters, explain their
main differences as to commercial appeals.
The Philippines has a uniform judicial system. Geographical subdivisions are only of
consideration for purposes of determining the venue of civil and commercial cases. Generally, a
regional trial court will have appellate jurisdiction over civil and commercial cases decided by
municipal or metropolitan trial courts within its territorial jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals and
Supreme Court have national appellate jurisdiction.

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What are the deadlines for filing an appeal in a commercial matter?
In civil and commercial cases, the appeal period is generally within 15 days from notice (ie,
official receipt of service) of the award, judgment, final order or resolution to be appealed, or
from the date of its last publication, if publication is required by law for its effectivity, or from
notice of the denial of a motion for new trial or reconsideration duly filed with the court of origin
in accordance with the governing law of the court or agency. Certain modes of appeal, however,
allow for longer periods, such as petitions for certiorari to appeal interlocutory orders (ie, orders
that do not finally resolve or dispose of a case) under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which shall
be 60 days from notice of the order or resolution.

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What are the key steps a litigant must take to commence an appeal?
For ordinary civil or commercial appeals of final judgments or decisions of municipal or
metropolitan trial courts to the regional trial court and final judgments and decisions of regional
trial courts to the Court of Appeals, an appeal is taken by:

filing a notice of appeal with the court of origin that rendered the judgment or final order
appealed from within the applicable appeal period (generally, 15 days from notice of the
judgment or decision);
paying, within the same period, to the clerk of said court the corresponding docket or appeal
and other lawful fees; and
furnishing the adverse party with a copy of the notice of appeal and proof of payment of the
appeal or docket fee.
For further appeals from decisions or judgments of the Court of Appeals, the anti-graft court, the
Court of Tax Appeals, the regional trial court or other courts to the Supreme Court, an appeal is
made by:

filing a verified petition for review on certiorari with the Supreme Court within 15 days from
notice of the decision or judgment;
paying, within the same period, to the clerk of court of the Supreme Court the applicable appeal
or docket fee; and
furnishing the lower court concerned and the adverse or opposing party of a copy of the
appellate petition. Appellate petitions to the Supreme Court also provide for certain formal
requirements that must be complied with.
For interlocutory appeals to the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court, an appeal is taken by:

filing a verified petition, accompanied by a certified true copy of the judgment, order or
resolution subject thereof, copies of all pleadings and documents relevant and pertinent thereto
and a sworn certification of non-forum shopping;
paying the corresponding docket and other lawful fees; and
furnishing the court of origin and the adverse party with a copy of the petition.
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How is the documentation for appeals prepared?
For ordinary appeals, the clerk of the trial court transmits to the appellate court the original
record or the approved record on appeal within 30 days from the perfection of the appeal,
together with the proof of payment of the appellate court docket and other lawful fees, a certified
true copy of the minutes of the proceedings, the order of approval, the certificate of correctness,
the original documentary evidence referred to therein, the original and three copies of the
transcripts. For interlocutory appeals, the parties are required to attach certified true copies of
the decisions or orders being appealed from, and in certain instances, even certified true copies
of material records of the case.

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In commercial matters, may litigants appeal by right or is appellate review discretionary?
Under Philippine law, an appeal may either be a matter of right or discretionary. An appeal as a
matter of right, which refers to the right to seek the review by a superior court of the judgment
rendered by the trial court, exists after the trial in the first instance (Heirs of Arturo Garcia v
Municipality of Iba, G R No. 162217, 22 July 2015). Hence, a party to a case that originates
from municipal trial courts, metropolitan trial courts or municipal circuit trial courts may appeal
as a matter of right to the regional trial courts, and a party to a case that originates from a
regional trial court may appeal as a matter of right to the Court of Appeals.

In contrast, a discretionary appeal may be taken from the decision or final order rendered by a
court in the exercise of its primary appellate jurisdiction, may be taken to the Supreme Court or
may be disallowed by the superior court in its discretion (Heirs of Arturo Garcia v Municipality of
Iba, G R No. 162217, 22 July 2015). This would refer to a further appeal from the regional trial
court, exercising its appellate jurisdiction, to the Court of Appeals or a further appeal to the
Supreme Court.

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Can litigants appeal any ruling from a trial court, or are they limited to appealing only final
Generally, only final judgments or orders of a court of law or quasi-judicial body are appealable,
or those judgments and orders that leave nothing more for the court or quasi-judicial body to be

Interlocutory orders are not appealable until after the judgment’s completion on the merits.
However, an interlocutory order may be brought up for review through a special civil action for
certiorari if the interlocutory order was rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion (Banez, Jr v Concepcion, G R No. 159508, 29 August 2012).

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In a typical commercial dispute, must a litigant post a bond or provide security to appeal a trial
court decision?
There is no requirement of an appeal bond. An appellant, however, must pay docket and other
lawful fees as a jurisdictional requirement.

For indigent litigants, a party may be authorised to litigate his or her action, claim or defence as
an indigent if the court, upon an ex parte application and hearing, is satisfied that the party is
one who has no money or property sufficient and available for food, shelter and basic
necessities for him or herself and his or her family. Such authority shall include an exemption
from payment of docket and other lawful fees, and of transcripts of stenographic notes, which
the court may order to be supplied.

However, should a litigant include an application for provisional remedy, in proper cases, a bond
must be posted in the amount fixed by the court.

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Are there special provisions for interlocutory appeals?
As discussed above, the appellate remedy from an interlocutory order is not an appeal in the
ordinary sense but a special civil action for certiorari, provided that the interlocutory order is
rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.

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Are there special rules relating to injunctions or stays, whether entered in the trial court or on
Yes. The Philippines has special rules covering injunction, both as a provisional remedy and as
a main relief. An injunction may be allowed provided the following requisites are present, which
must be alleged in an application made under oath:

the existence of a right to be protected; and

the facts against which the injunction is to be directed are violative of the said right (Republic of
the Philippines v Cortez, Sr, G R No. 197472, 7 September 2015).
Also, a bond is usually required before the issuance of the injunctive writ. As a provisional
remedy, an injunction may be applied at any stage of the proceedings prior to the judgment or
final order.

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If a litigant files an appeal in a commercial dispute, does it stay enforcement of the trial court
Yes. Filing an appeal stays the enforcement of a trial court judgment. The final judgment or
decision of the trial court only becomes final and executory when no motion for reconsideration
is filed with the court of origin or no appeal has been filed or perfected or after an appeal duly
filed is decided with finality.

On the other hand, interlocutory orders are immediately enforceable and cannot be stayed by a
petition for certiorari unless a preliminary injunction is sought to stay the order. However, there
are judgments or decisions from administrative or quasi-judicial agencies that are immediately
executory unless execution is restrained in the meantime by the appellate court.

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On an appeal from a commercial dispute, may the first-level appellate court consider the facts
and law anew, or is its power to review limited?
Generally, first-level appellate courts have the power to consider the facts and law de novo.
However, when the appeal reaches the Supreme Court, review is generally limited to questions
of law as it is not a trier of facts (Far Eastern Surety and Insurance Co Inc v People, G R No.
170618, 20 November 2013). But this rule is subject to certain exceptions, as provided in
jurisprudence, taking into account the attendant circumstances (Spouses Sy v China Banking
Corporation, G R No. 215954, 1 August 2016).

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If a party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the first-level appeal, is further appeal possible?
Yes, there are multiple levels of appellate review. The Philippines observes the principle of
judicial hierarchy and such hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals. However, when it
reaches the Supreme Court, as mentioned above, the appeal becomes discretionary.

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How long do appeals typically take from application to appeal to a final decision?
There is no expected or estimated timeline because period varies from case to case. However,
based on experience, appellate proceedings usually take from one to three years from the date
of filing of the first appellate pleading to when the appeal is either decided or deemed submitted
for decision, depending on the complexity of the case, among other factors.

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What is the briefing and argument process like in a typical commercial appeal?
Commercial appeals are generally decided on the basis of the evidence adduced and pleadings
filed by the parties at the court of first instance. The appellate pleadings would usually consist of
the brief or initiatory petition by the appellant; the brief or comment on the initiatory petition filed
by the appellee; and other pleadings or submissions that the appellate court may allow or
require, such as memoranda. The Court of Appeals, in certain cases, may also conduct
hearings and receive evidence. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court may additionally
hear the parties in oral argument on the merits of a case, or on any material incident in
connection therewith.

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Are appeals limited to the evidentiary record that was before the trial court, or can new evidence
be introduced on appeal?
Generally, evidence introduced for the first time on appeal is not entertained by the appellate
courts, since it is well established in Philippine jurisprudence that points of law, theories, issues
and arguments not brought to the attention of the trial court will not be and ought not to be
considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time on appeal
(Calanasan v Spouses Dolorito, G R No. 171937, 25 November 2013).

There are exceptions to the rule that no question may be raised for the first time on appeal. The
issue of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings and may be considered by the reviewing court. The said court may also consider
an issue not properly raised during trial when there is plain error. Likewise, it may entertain such
arguments when there are jurisprudential developments affecting the issues or when the issues
raised present a matter of public policy (Del Rosario v Bonga, G R No. 136308, 23 January

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If litigants uncover new evidence of wrongdoing that they believe altered the outcome of a trial
court judgment, can they introduce this evidence on appeal?
Under Philippine law, fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence that ordinary prudence
could not have guarded against and by reason of which the aggrieved party has probably been
impaired in his or her rights; or newly discovered evidence that he or she could not, with
reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial and that if presented would
probably alter the result, are not raised on appeal but are instead causes to move the trial court
to set aside the judgment or final order and grant a new trial.

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May parties raise new legal arguments on appeal?
As a rule, no question will be entertained on appeal unless it has been raised in the court below.
Basic considerations of due process impel this rule. Stated differently, issues of fact and
arguments not adequately brought to the attention of the lower courts will not be considered by
the reviewing courts as they cannot be raised for the first time on appeal (Del Rosario v Bonga,
G R No. 136308. 23 January 2001). There are, however, recognised exceptions to this rule
(Logronio v Taleseo, G R No. 134602, 6 August 1999).

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What are the rules regarding attorneys’ fees and costs on appeal?
There are two commonly accepted concepts of attorney’s fees, ordinary and extraordinary. In its
ordinary concept, an attorney’s fee is the reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer by his or
her client for the legal services he or she has rendered to the latter; while in its extraordinary
concept, attorney’s fees are deemed indemnity for damages ordered by the court to be paid by
the losing party in litigation. The instances where these may be awarded are those enumerated
in article 2208 of the Civil Code (Alva v High Capacity Security Force, Inc, G R No. 203328, 8
November 2017). An appellate court may affirm, modify or set aside a trial court’s award of
extraordinary attorney’s fees in the process of appellate review.

Meanwhile, cost shall be awarded in favour of the prevailing party as a matter of course, but the
court shall have power, for special reasons, to adjudge that either party shall pay the costs of an
action or that the same be divided, as may be equitable. Likewise, where an action or appeal is
found to be frivolous, double or treble cost may be imposed on the plaintiff or appellant, which
shall be paid by his or her attorney, if so ordered by the court. Again, this imposition may be
affirmed, modified or set aside on appeal.

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Can parties enter into a settlement agreement to vacate the trial court judgment after an appeal
has been taken?
Yes. Parties are allowed to enter into compromise or settlement agreements that cover cases
pending trial, on appeal or even those that have already been finally decided. There is no time
limitation as to when a compromise or settlement agreement may be entered into (Magbanua v
Uy, G R No. 161003. 6 May 2005).

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Are there any limits on settlement once an appeal has been taken?
The filing of an appeal does not limit the parties’ ability to enter into compromise or settlement
agreements as long as such agreements are not contrary to law, morals, good customs and
public policy. Article 2935 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, however, provides that no
compromise upon the following questions shall be valid:

the civil status of persons;

validity of a marriage or a legal separation;
any ground for legal separation;
future support;
jurisdiction of courts; or
future legitime.
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May third parties fund appeals?
There are no specific rules in this jurisdiction that govern third-party litigation funders and a
litigant would ordinarily be free to source his or her litigation funds. However, an agreement
whereby an attorney agrees to pay expenses of proceedings to enforce the client’s rights is
champertous (Roxas v Republic Real Estate Corp, G R No. 208205, 1 June 2016). A
champertous contract is considered against public policy as it violates the fiduciary relations
between the lawyer and his or her client, whose weakness or disadvantage may be exploited by
the former (Nocom v Camerino, G R No. 182984, 10 February 2009).

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If litigation funding is permitted in an appeal, must funding sources be disclosed to the court or
other parties to the litigation?
There are no express rules covering third-party litigation funders in this jurisdiction (see question

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Must appellate courts in your country write decisions explaining their rulings? Can the courts
designate the precedential effect of their decisions?
Yes. The Philippine Constitution requires that no decision shall be rendered by any court without
expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. Further, the
Rules of Court also emphasise that every decision or final resolution of the court in appealed
cases shall clearly and distinctly state the findings of fact and the conclusions of law on which it
is based, which may be contained in the decision or final resolution itself, or adopted from those
set forth in the decision, order or resolution appealed from.

Only decisions of the Supreme Court are considered as judicial precedents to be followed in
subsequent cases by all courts in the land, following the principle of stare decisis.

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Will the appellate courts in your country consider submissions from non-parties?
Yes. The Rules of Court provide that experienced and impartial attorneys may be invited by the
Supreme Court to appear as amici curiae to help in the disposition of issues submitted to it.

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What are the ordinary forms of relief that can be rendered by an appellate court in a civil
The appellate court may affirm, reverse or modify the judgment or final order appealed from and
may direct a new trial or further proceedings to be had. Reliefs may include the award of
damages, attorney’s fees, grant of provisional remedies and other relief.

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SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan was founded in 1945 and is the leading full-service law
firm in the Philippines. Its principal office is in Makati City, with branch offices in Cebu City,
Davao City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

View more information about SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

Ramon G Songco

Jewelle Ann Lou P Santos

105 Paseo de Roxas
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T: +6 32 982 3500 / 3600 / 3700
F: +6 32 817 3896 / 3567 / 3145
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