Dispute Resolution, Litigation, Arbitration

Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure Governing Pre-trial

The Revised Rules of Civil Procedure (Revised Rules) introduced significant amendments to the rules on pre-trial.

Nature and Proceedings

Under the Revised Rules, the following shall be done during the pre-trial hearing: marking of evidence, comparison of original evidence vis-à-vis copies, stipulations regarding the faithfulness of the reproductions and the genuineness and due execution of the adverse parties’ evidence, reservation of testimonial evidence not available at the pre-trial by giving the name or position and the nature of the testimony of the proposed witness, and reservation of documentary and other object evidence by giving a particular description of the evidence.

Issuance of Pre-trial Notice

The clerk of court is now directed to issue the pre-trial notice motu proprio and without need of motion by the plaintiff.

Failure to Appear

The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provide that failure of the plaintiff to appear at pre-trial without a valid cause is a ground for dismissal of the action with prejudice unless otherwise ordered by the court; while a similar failure on the part of the defendant shall be cause to allow the plaintiff to present evidence ex parte and the court to render judgment on the basis thereof. The Revised Rules maintained these provisions and further provided that failure of plaintiff’s or defendant’s counsel to appear, as the case may be, will have the same consequences.

The Revised Rules also provide that in case of failure of a party and his/her counsel to attend the pre-trial without just cause and despite due notice, the party waives any objections to the faithfulness of the reproductions marked, or their genuineness and due execution. In addition, failure of a party and/or counsel to bring the evidence required shall now be deemed a waiver of the presentation of such evidence.

Court-Annexed Mediation (CAM) and Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR)

CAM and JDR, which were previously scheduled before pre-trial, are now scheduled after pre-trial. The parties are given a non-extendible period of 30 calendar days to finish the mandatory CAM. If the parties fail to agree during the CAM, the court will determine if settlement is still possible and refer the case for JDR. If the case is referred to JDR, the case will be raffled to another court that will conduct the JDR. JDR is to be conducted within a non-extendible period of 15 calendar days from notice of failure of the CAM. If JDR fails, trial before the original court shall proceed on the dates agreed upon during pre-trial. Previously, the JDR was conducted by the court where the case was filed and only referred to another court for trial when the JDR fails.

Judgment after Pre-trial

Another notable change is the power of the judge to motu proprio render judgment after pre-trial when: (1) there are no controverted facts; (2) there is no genuine issue as to any material fact; (3) there is absence of any issue; or (4) the answer fails to tender an issue. This is without prejudice to a party moving for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 34 or summary judgment under Rule 35. The pre-trial order shall indicate that the case shall be submitted for summary judgment or judgment on the pleadings without need of position papers or memoranda. In such cases, judgment shall be rendered within 90 calendar days from termination of the pre-trial. The order of the court to submit the case for judgment pursuant to this rule shall not be subject to appeal or certiorari.


The Revised Rules apply to cases filed after 01 May 2020 and to those already pending as of 01 May 2020, except to the extent that in the opinion of the court, application thereof would not be feasible or would work injustice, in which case the procedure under which the cases were filed shall govern.

Click here to read the entire text of S.C. A.M. No. 19-10-20-SC or 2019 Proposed Amendments to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

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