Mario Magaspi vs Jose Ramolete

June 26, 2015
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115 SCRA 193 – Remedial Law – Rule 141 – Payment of Docket Fees

Civil Procedure – Pleadings – Amendments

In September 1970, Mario Magaspi et al filed a civil complaint against The Shell Co. of the Philippines (Shell) for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land with damages. Magaspi paid Php 60.00 for docket fees.

Shell then filed a motion requesting the court to direct Magaspi to pay the correct docket fees. The court then ordered the Clerk of Court to make the appropriate computation. The Clerk of Court made the following summary in computing the docket fee:

Assessed value of the real estate in dispute: Php 17,280.00

Moral damages claimed: Php 500,000.00

Attorney’s Fees claimed: Php 25,000.00

Rentals due: Php 890,633.24

TOTAL: Php 1,657,913.24

Pursuant to Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, the docket fee for said amount claimed is Php 3,164.00 plus Php 2.00 for Legal Research fee.

The trial court then ordered Magaspi to pay recomputed docket fee minus the Php 60.00 Magaspi already paid.

Instead of paying Php 3,104.00, Magaspi filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint. In the amended complaint, Magaspi lowered their claims for attorney’s fees, moral damages, and rentals due.

Shell then filed a motion requesting the court to order Magaspi et al to pay the correct docket fees and that said docket fees should be computed based on the original complaint and not on the amendment complaint.

Eventually, RTC Judge Jose Ramolote ruled that the complaint is deemed to have never been filed because the proper docket fee was not paid.

ISSUE: Whether or not the complaint is deemed to have never been filed due to nonpayment of the correct amount of docket fees.

HELD: No. The rule is, a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of its filing in court. In this case, the case filed by Magaspi is already deemed filed because in fact, they already paid the docket fees, albeit the wrong amount. Accordingly, the trial court had acquired jurisdiction over the case and the proceedings thereafter had were proper and regular.

Magaspi must however pay the correct amount of the docket fees and such correct amount should already be based on the amended complaint and not on the original complaint. When a pleading is amended, the original pleading is deemed abandoned.

 

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NOTE: This case was reversed by Manchester Development vs Court of Appeals

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