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  • Writer's pictureZiggurat Realestatecorp

PHL business sector wants speedy disposition of cases

In today's business world, litigation is a fact of life.

The litigation process is an important part of our democratic process, but anyone who does business will quickly explain that it is our judicial process which gives stability to our capitalistic system of business. The judicial system of the Philippines can and does work most of the time. Unfortunately, it is an expensive and time-consuming process that is not for the faint of heart.

The country’s business community has urged for a speedy and efficient disposition of cases stressing that delayed justice is not only justice denied but also adversely affect the economy and competitiveness of the country.

In a joint statement, 22 business groups issued an appeal to the Supreme Court for its integral role in resolving disputes and to lead by example and treat the periods to resolve cases prescribed in the Constitution as uniformly mandatory across all levels of the courts to ensure the speedy disposition of cases.

“While policy and contracts are the foundation of doing business, businesses equally rely on the effective and expeditious resolution of disputes in order to succeed and thrive,” the groups said.

“Thus, we urge and appeal to the the next Chief Justice to lead the Supreme Court in making mandatory at all court levels the periods to decide cases under the Constitution,” the groups said.

The groups stressed that judicial speed and efficiency inextricably affect our economic landscape and competitiveness as a country. “In these uncertain times brought about by the ongoing pandemic, it is crucial that we strengthen our economy’s backbone by ensuring continuity and certainty in our commercial affairs. The Supreme Court’s integral role in resolving disputes inspires confidence in the private and public sectors that all rights are justly and equally protected under the rule of law,” the joint statement said.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a maxim that permeates across all legal jurisdictions. It underscores the necessity for the speedy disposition of cases at all levels of our courts of law. “

The groups pointed that a speedy resolution is explicitly enshrined in the Constitution Article III of Section 16 provides that “[a]ll persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.”

To stress the importance of this mandate, Article VIII, Section 15 likewise provides that “[a]ll cases or matters … must be decided or resolved within twenty-four months from date of submission for the Supreme Court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme Court, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months for all other lower courts.”

Businessmen noted that the Supreme Court has taken steps to address judicial delay and implement the foregoing mandates of the Constitution. The amendments to the rules of procedure governing small claims, requirement of court-annexed mediation and recent amendments to the rules of procedure are examples of the Supreme Court’s initiatives to decongest the severely clogged dockets of courts at every level.

The Supreme Court has likewise impressed upon the bench and bar the urgency and need to abide by the Constitution’s mandated periods for the decision of cases. In a series of decisions, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld that the ninety (90) day period prescribed by the Constitution within which lower courts must resolve cases is not merely directory but mandatory in nature. Unfortunately, the Court has held that the 24-month period prescribed by the Constitution for it to decide cases is only directory for itself.

“The speedy disposition of cases benefits not only the litigating parties but the business community as a whole. The Court’s decisions guide businesses in their future commercial relations and transactions and profoundly affect how businesses move forward. The timely resolution of disputes inspires confidence among potential investors who can rely on the efficiency of judicial processes to uphold the laws, regulations and contracts upon which businesses are built,” the groups added.

They also noted with concern the finding under the 2020 WB/IFC Ease of Doing Business Report, that the Philippines has the second longest period to resolve cases among the ten member countries of the ASEAN.

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