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CIVIL PROCEDURE – JUSTICE DE LEON

UNDERGROUND CASE DIGESTS


Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melicor
After Bertuldo vigorously participated in all stages of the case before the
trial court and even invoked the trial court's authority in order to ask for
FACTS
affirmative relief, petitioners, considering that they merely stepped into
• The Balanes, the private respondents in this case, filed a complaint for the
the shoes of their predecessor, are effectively barred by estoppel from
recovery of ownership and possession as well as removal of construction
challenging the trial court's jurisdiction. Although the issue of jurisdiction
and damages (moral & exemplary) against Bertuldo Hinog.
may be raised at any stage of the proceedings as the same is conferred by
• It was alleged that the Balanes are the owners of a parcel of land in Bohol, law, it is nonetheless settled that a party may be barred from raising it on
which they have rented to Bertuldo for 10 years with an annual rental of ground of laches or estoppel.
100php. Bertuldo, thereafter, constructed a house of light materials in the
said lot.
• However, after the expiry of the 10 years, Bertuldo refused to surrender the
lot and even claimed ownership over the same by virtue of a deed of Additional:
absolute sale executed by one Tomas Pahac, with the alleged conformity of
the Balanes. Issue: WON the non-payment of the proper docket fee at the time of the filing of the
• Trial on the merits ensued but Bertuldo died without completing his complaint automatically causes the dismissal of the action? NO
evidence.
• Consequently, Bertuldo III designated Atty. Petalcorin to be his new Ratio: The Court has held that the Manchester rule has been modified in Sun
counsel. The latter filed a motion to expunge the complaint and nullify all Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) vs. Asuncion, which defined the following guidelines
proceedings on the ground that the amount of damages claimed is not involving the payment of docket fees:
stated so the proper docket fee was not paid by the Balanes hence the
court did not acquire jurisdiction. Under the Manchester Ruling, Non- 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory
payment of the correct docket fee is jurisdictional. pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a
• The trial court granted the motion but later on reinstated the case after the trial court with jurisdiction over the subject-matter or nature of the
payment of the correct docket fee. action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not accompanied
by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the
• Instead of filing for an MR, a supplemental pleading was filed by Atty.
fees within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable
Petalcorin appending therein the Deed of Sale of the lot in question. The
prescriptive or reglementary period.
trial court denied the supplemental pleading on the ground that the Deed is
a new matter, never mentioned in the original answer prepared by
Bertuldo’s original counsel. XXX
• Hence, this petition for certiorari and prohibition
Plainly, while the payment of the prescribed docket fee is a jurisdictional
requirement, even its non-payment at the time of filing does not
ISSUE: WON the petitioners may challenge the court’s jurisdiction? automatically cause the dismissal of the case, as long as the fee is paid
within the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period, more so when
HELD: NO! the party involved demonstrates a willingness to abide by the rules
prescribing such payment.[46] Thus, when insufficient filing fees were
After recognizing the jurisdiction of the trial court by seeking affirmative relief in initially paid by the plaintiffs and there was no intention to defraud the
their motion to serve supplemental pleading upon private respondents, petitioners government, the Manchester rule does not apply.
are effectively barred by estoppel from challenging the trial court's jurisdiction. If a
party invokes the jurisdiction of a court, he cannot thereafter challenge the court's
jurisdiction in the same case. To rule otherwise would amount to speculating on the
Digest by Cates
fortune of litigation, which is against the policy of the Court.

It is worth noting that when Bertuldo filed his Answer on July 2, 1991, he did not
raise the issue of lack of jurisdiction for non-payment of correct docket fees. Instead,
he based his defense on a claim of ownership and participated in the proceedings
before the trial court. It was only in September 22, 1998 or more than seven years
after filing the answer, and under the auspices of a new counsel, that the issue of
jurisdiction was raised for the first time in the motion to expunge by Bertuldo's heirs.

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