Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Krizia Katrina Ty-De Zuzuarregui vs. The Hon. Joselito C. Villanueva, et al., G.R. No. 183788, April 5, 2010.

Pleadings; verification and certification of non-forum shopping; substantial compliance by subsequent submission. Under Rule 46, Section 3, paragraph 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, petitions for certiorari must be verified and accompanied by a sworn certification of non-forum shopping. The primary question that has to be resolved in this case is whether the verification and certification of non-forum shopping, erroneously signed by counsel, may be cured by subsequent compliance. Generally, subsequent compliance with the requirement of a certification of non-forum shopping does not excuse a party from failure to comply in the first instance. A certification of the plaintiff’s counsel will not suffice for the reason that it is the petitioner, and not the counsel, who is in the best position to know whether he actually filed or caused the filing of a petition. A certification against forum shopping signed by counsel is a defective certification that is equivalent to non-compliance with the requirement and constitutes a valid cause for the dismissal of the petition. However, there are instances when we treated compliance with the rule with relative liberality, especially when there are circumstances or compelling reasons making the strict application of the rule clearly unjustified. In the case of Far Eastern Shipping Company v. Court of Appeals, while we said that, strictly, a certification against forum shopping by counsel is a defective certification, the verification, signed by petitioner’s counsel in said case, is substantial compliance inasmuch as it served the purpose of the Rules of informing the Court of the pendency of another action or proceeding involving the same issues. We then explained that procedural rules are instruments in the speedy and efficient administration of justice which should be used to achieve such end and not to derail it. In Sy Chin v. Court of Appeals, we categorically stated that while the petition was flawed as the certification of non-forum shopping was signed only by counsel and not by the party, such procedural lapse may be overlooked in the interest of substantial justice. Finally, the Court has also on occasion held that the party need not sign the verification; a party’s representative, lawyer or any person who personally knows the truth of the facts alleged in the pleading may sign the verification. 

Here, the verification and certification of non-forum shopping was signed by petitioner’s counsel. Upon receipt of the resolution of the Court of Appeals dismissing her petition for non-compliance with the rules, petitioner submitted, together with her motion for reconsideration, a verification and certification signed by her in compliance with the said rule. We deem this to be sufficient compliance especially in view of the merits of the case, which may be considered as a special circumstance or a compelling reason that would justify tempering the hard consequence of the procedural requirement on non-forum shopping. Krizia Katrina Ty-De Zuzuarregui vs. The Hon. Joselito C. Villanueva, et al., G.R. No. 183788, April 5, 2010.

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