Saturday, February 25, 2012

Montañer, et, al. vs. Shariah District Court

Facts: Luisa Kho Montañer, a Roman Catholic, married Alejandro Montañer, Sr. at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Cubao, Quezon City. Alejandro died. Petitioners herein are their three children.

Liling Disangcopan and her daughter, Almahleen, both Muslims, filed a "Complaint" for the judicial partition of properties before the Shari’a District Court. They claim to be the first family of Alejandro.

Petitioner children filed an Answer with a Motion to Dismiss becasue Discangcopan failed to pay the correct amount of docket fees. Petitioners point to Disangcopan’s petition which contains an allegation estimating the decedent’s estate as the basis for the conclusion that what private respondents paid as docket fees was insufficient.

Issue: Whether or not the proper docket fees were paid for “Complaint” for the judicial partition of properties.

Held: Yes, only because the petitioner children failed to present the clerk of court’s assessment.

Filing the appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the prescribed docket fees vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter. If the party filing the case paid less than the correct amount for the docket fees because that was the amount assessed by the clerk of court, the responsibility of making a deficiency assessment lies with the same clerk of court. In such a case, the lower court concerned will not automatically lose jurisdiction, because of a party’s reliance on the clerk of court’s insufficient assessment of the docket fees. As every citizen has the right to assume and trust that a public officer charged by law with certain duties knows his duties and performs them in accordance with law, the party filing the case cannot be penalized with the clerk of court’s insufficient assessment. However, the party concerned will be required to pay the deficiency.

In the case at bar, petitioner children did not present the clerk of court’s assessment of the docket fees. Moreover, the records do not include this assessment. There can be no determination of whether Disangcopan correctly paid the docket fees without the clerk of court’s assessment.





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