The holiday season is filled with so much festivity and frivolity that sometimes people overlook their professional responsibilities.
Unlike corporations and partnerships that conclude fiscal years and project annual profits, the practice of law is continuous, uninterrupted, and unaffected by holidays, national events, or natural calamities.
The computation of the period prescribed by the Rules of Court before a deadline expires is as follows: “[I]f the last day of the period… falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday in the place where the court sits, the time shall not run until the next working day” (Section 1, Rule 22, 2019 Rules of Civil Procedure).
For example, if the deadline to file a pleading or motion is on December 25, 2022, which is a non-working holiday, the filing will be on the next working day.
The period to file an Answer is within 30 calendar days after the service of summons to the defendant or person sued. If your deadline falls on a day after the holiday, you will have to work through the holidays to meet your deadline.
Only one extension of 30 days to file an Answer is allowed for meritorious reasons (see Section 11, Rule 11).
Before filing an Answer, “a party [defendant] may move for a definite statement or for a bill of particulars of any matter which is not averred with sufficient definiteness or particularity [in the complaint] to enable him… to prepare [for] his… responsive pleading” (Section 1, Rule 12).
The defendant has 30 calendar days to file a Motion for a Bill of Particulars.
After the motion is granted and the plaintiff serves the bill of particulars, or after notice of the denial of the defendant’s motion, the latter may file his responsive pleading within the remainder of the period he was originally entitled to which shall not be less than five days in any event (see Section 5, Rule 12).
If the plaintiff or complainant amends the complaint before an Answer is filed, the defendant must file an Answer within 30 calendar days from service of the amended complaint.
However, if the amended complaint is filed after an Answer has been filed, the defendant has 15 calendar days from notice to file another Answer (see Section 3, Rule 11).
A Reply, if allowed under Section 10, Rule 6 of the 2019 Rules of Civil Procedure (2019 Rules), may be filed within 15 calendar days from the service of the Answer (Section 6, Rule 11).
The plaintiff may file a Reply only if the defending party attaches an actionable document (basis of the claim) to his answer (Section 10, Rule 6).
A counterclaim or cross-claim (incorporated in the Answer) must be answered within 20 calendar days from service of the same (Section 4, Rule 11).
A counterclaim is any claim which a defending party may have against the opposing party, while a cross-claim is any claim by one party against a co-party out of the transaction or occurrence subject of the action (Section 6, Rule 6).
A third-party (fourth-party) complaint must be answered within 30 calendar days after service of summons since it is governed by the same rule as the Answer to a complaint (Section 5, Rule 11).
A third-party complaint is a claim of a defending party against a person not a party to the action for contribution, indemnity, subrogation or any other relief (Section 11, Rule 6).
The period to file a Motion to Dismiss is a bit tricky since the original Rule 16 on Motion to Dismiss has been deleted in the 2019 Rules.
Today, the Motion to Dismiss is only based on four grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, litis pendentia, res judicata, and statute of limitations.
As there is no express period in which to file a Motion to Dismiss under the 2019 Rules, it is to be filed within 30 calendar days from service of the summons and complaint.
The period to file an Answer will be interrupted by the filing of the Motion to Dismiss and if it is denied, the defendant has only the remainder of the 30 days to file the former (see Section 2, Rule 22).
A Demurrer to Evidence, a litigious motion, can be filed by the defendant after the plaintiff has completed the presentation of his evidence and if he believes that the plaintiff has no right to relief (see Section 1, Rule 33).
It is at that stage of the proceedings wherein the plaintiff has filed his Formal Offer of Evidence and the court has resolved the same.
The Motion for Reconsideration of a Judgment or Motion for New Trial must be filed within 15 calendar days or the period to file an appeal (see Section 1, Rule 37).
While these motions are litigious, they will have to be resolved by the court within 30 calendar days from the time these are submitted for resolution (Section 4, Rule 37).
An ordinary appeal may be taken within 15 days after notice to the appellant of the judgment or final order appealed from.
Where a record on appeal is required, as in special proceedings and multiple appeals, the appellant shall file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal within 30 days after notice of the judgment or final order (see Section 2, Rule 40 and Section 3, Rule 41).
Petitions for Review to the Court of Appeals “shall be filed and served within 15 days from notice of the decision sought to be reviewed or of the denial of petitioner’s [appellant’s] motion for new trial or reconsideration… [U]pon proper motion and the payment of the full amount of the docket and other lawful fees… [and] before the expiration of the reglementary period, the Court of Appeals may grant an additional period of 15 days…” (Section 1, Rule 42).
Petition for Review on Certiorari or Appeal by Certiorari to the Supreme Court “shall be filed within 15 days from notice of the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from, or of the denial of the petitioner’s motion for new trial or reconsideration… [T]he Supreme Court may for justifiable reasons grant an extension of 30 days only within which to file the petition” (Section 2, Rule 45).
As for special civil actions for certiorari or Petitions for Certiorari, these “may be filed not later than 60 days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution sought to be assailed in the Supreme Court.
“If it relates to the acts or omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, [it is to be filed] in the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area…” (Section 4, Rule 65).
The Petition for Certiorari “may also be filed [within the same period] in the Court of Appeals or … the Sandiganbayan, whether or not the same is in aid of the court’s appellate jurisdiction.
“If it involves the acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, and unless otherwise provided by law or these rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of Appeals” (Section 4, Rule 65).
Meeting court deadlines may appear to be a burden to some or an interruption to joyous celebrations especially at this time of year, but it is a process that litigants and court users must religiously observe.
Otherwise, affected parties may be prejudiced and the courts prevented from performing their duties in an expeditious manner.