The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended the turnover of civil cases pending with the regional trial courts (RTCs) to the municipal and city courts under the new law that expanded the jurisdiction of trial courts in cases like those involving property, probate, and maritime disputes.
Instead of immediately turning over the cases, RTC judges were directed to submit an inventory until Sept. 15 of those cases which would now be under the jurisdiction of city and municipal courts under Republic Act No. 11576.
In a circular, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez said the SC is now in the process of revising the Rules on Summary Procedure and Small Claims Cases “to recalibrate, reconcile, and harmonize the coverage” of the rules in view of RA 11576 which took effect last Aug. 21.
What could have been immediately turned over to city and municipal courts are “those cases now falling within the jurisdiction of the first level courts… though filed with the second level courts prior to the effectivity of RA 11576 but no pre-trial order has been issued.”
RTCs are the country’s second level courts. The first level courts are the municipal trial court (MTC), municipal circuit trial court (MCTC), municipal trial court in cities (MTCC), and metropolitan trial court (MeTC).
RA 11576 increased the jurisdiction amount cognizable by the RTCs “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.”
It also increased RTCs’ jurisdiction in maritime cases “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.
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo had said that 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,” he said.