The Supreme Court (SC) has welcomed the enactment of a law that expanded the jurisdictions of trial courts in civil cases involving property, probate such as inheritance, and maritime disputes.
Republic Act No. 11576, signed by President Duterte last July 30, also gave the SC “delegated authority to adjust the jurisdictional amounts” cognizable by trial courts.
The adjustments should “reflect the extraordinary supervening inflation or deflation of currency, change in land valuation, or to maintain the proportion of caseload between first and second level courts.”
First level courts in the country are the municipal trial court (MTC), municipal circuit trial court (MCTC), municipal trial court in cities (MTCC), and metropolitan trial court (MeTC). Regional trial courts (RTCs) are the second level courts.
RA 11576 will be effective 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or in two newspapers of general circulation. It amended certain provisions of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo said RA 11576 “will no doubt help declog the dockets of our second-level courts, which in turn would lead to a faster adjudication of cases and better administration of justice.”
“Through this new law, the jurisdictional amounts of our trial courts have now been adjusted to levels which are more suitable to the current economic conditions and property valuation in the country,” Gesmundo said.
The SC’s public information office (PIO) said that RA 11576 “increased the jurisdiction amount cognizable by the regional trial courts (RTCs) – second level courts – in all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, from the previous amount of P20,000 (P50,000 in Metro Manila) to P400,000, except for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands and buildings, original jurisdiction over which remains with the first-level courts.”
The PIO said the new law “also increases the jurisdiction of the RTCs in all actions and maritime jurisdiction where the demand or claims exceeds P2,000,000, from the previous amount of P100,000 (P200,000 in Metro Manila); in all matters of testate and intestate probate where the gross value of the estate exceeds P2,000,000, from the previous amount of P100,000 (P200,000 in Metro Manila); and in all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs or the value of the property in controversy exceeds P2,000,000, from the previous amount of P100,000.”
For the first level courts, the new law provides that they will have “exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions and probate proceedings, testate and intestate, including grant of provisional remedies where the value of the personal property, estate, or amount of the demand does not exceed P2,000,000, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind….”
The first level courts will also have “exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of real property, or any interest therein where the amount does not exceed P400,000, exclusive of interest, damages….”
In admiralty and maritime cases, first level courts have jurisdiction on amounts not exceeding P2,000,000.
In 2020, the SC designated several first level and second level courts as admiralty courts to handle shipping, ocean, and sea legal cases such as those involving contracts, injuries and offenses relating to maritime laws.
In a statement, Chief Justice Gesmundo said: “I would like to thank the leaders of both houses of Congress and all lawmakers who supported the bill. I also personally thank Sen. Richard J. Gordon, Chairperson of Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, who worked hard for the passing of the bill.”
“I likewise acknowledge my predecessors, Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin who first broached the idea with lawmakers about amending the law on the jurisdiction of our trial courts, and Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta who pushed for the approval of the bill in Congress.”