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Five Star Bus Company vs Court of Appeals
Certification of Non-Forum Shopping Should Be Signed by Plaintiff NOT Counsel
One night in November 1991 at about 11pm, Ignacio Torres, while driving a bus owned by Five Star Bus Company collided with a mini-van driven by Samuel King Sagaral II. Sagaral filed a civil action for damages against Five Star Bus Company and Torres. The civil case dragged for four years by reason of the bus company’s lawyer’s repeated request to reset the hearing of the case. Until the trial court issued an order which considered the case submitted for resolution. The bus company’s lawyer filed for a motion for reconsideration but it was denied.
The bus company’s lawyer then filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals but the latter court summarily dismissed the petition because said petition’s affidavit of non-forum shopping was not signed by the plaintiff or any of its representatives but rather it was signed by the lawyer. The lawyer explained that his signing was an oversight and that he was in a haste to submit the petition at the earliest possible time in order to protect his client’s interest.
ISSUE: Whether or not the petition filed by Five Star Bus Company should prosper.
HELD: No. Circular No. 28-91 issued by the Supreme Court requiring that the affidavit of non-forum shopping should be executed and signed by the plaintiff is a strict requirement. Circular No. 28-91 has its roots in the rule that a party-litigant shall not be allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in two different tribubals, for such practice works havoc upon orderly judicial procedure. Forum shopping has been characterized as an act of malpractice that is prohibited and condemned as trifling with the courts and abusing their processes. It constitutes improper conduct which tends to degrade the administration of justice. It has also been aptly described as deplorable because it adds to the congestion of the already heavily burdened dockets of the courts.
But the Supreme Court has relaxed this rule several times prior to this case when there is substantial compliance, why is it not relaxed in this case?
It is true that said Circular requires that it be strictly complied with but such merely underscores its mandatory nature in that it cannot be dispensed with or its requirements altogether disregarded, but it does not thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances. In the case at bar however, the reasons provided by Five Star’s lawyer are flimsy and frail. Further, the case has been dragging on for years and such delay is mostly attributed to Five Star’s lawyer.
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