Sunday, March 11, 2012

Soliven vs. Fast-Forms Philippines Inc. [G.R. No. 139031 October 18, 2004]

Facts: Marie Antoinette R. Soliven, petitioner, filed a complaint for sum of money with damages against Fast-Forms Philippines, Inc., respondent. The complaint alleges that respondent, through its president Dr. Eduardo Escobar, obtained a loan from petitioner in the amount of PhP 170,000.00 payable within a period of 21 days, with an interest of 3%. On the same day, respondent issued a post dated check in favor of petitioner in the amount of PhP 175,000.00. About three weeks later, respondent, through Dr. Escobar, advised petitioner not to deposit the postdated check as the account from where it was drawn has insufficient funds. Instead, respondent proposed to petitioner that the PhP 175,000.00 be “rolled-over,” with a monthly interest of 5% which petitioner agreed. Subsequently, respondent issued several checks in the total of PhP 76,250.00 in favor of petitioner as payment for interests corresponding to the months of June, August, September, October and December. Later, despite petitioner’s repeated demands, respondent refused to pay its principal obligation and interests due. 

Respondent, in its answer with counterclaim, denied that it obtained a loan from petitioner, and that it did not authorize its then president, Dr. Eduardo Escobar, to secure any loan from petitioner or issue various checks as payment for interests. 

After trial on the merits, the court a quo rendered a decision in favor of petitioner. 

Respondent then filed a motion for reconsideration questioning for the first time the trial court’s jurisdiction. It alleged that since the amount of petitioner’s principal demand (PhP 195,155.00) does not exceed PhP 200,000.00, the complaint should have been filed with the MTC pursuant to R.A. 7691. 

IssueWhether the trial court has jurisdiction over the case 

Held: YES. While it is true that jurisdiction may be raised at any time, “this rule presupposes that estoppel has not supervened.” The Court has constantly upheld the doctrine that while jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage, a litigant’s participation in all stages of the case before the trial court, including the invocation of its authority in asking for affirmative relief, bars such party from challenging the court’s jurisdiction. A party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction. The Court frowns upon the undesirable practice of a party participating in the proceedings and submitting his case for decision and then accepting judgement, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverse.

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