Courts’ delay in resolving commercial cases scored


THE Department of Finance (DOF) has cried foul over the “questionab­le” and “deliberate” delay in the resolution of commercial cases pending in various courts in the country.

The Office of Court Administra­tor headed by Court Administra­tor Jose Midas P. Marquez said it has received a letter from Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III urging his office to compel trial courts to comply with their mandate to resolve cases within the required period, considerin­g the delay in resolution of various commercial cases such as rehabilita­tion, insolvency, and liquidatio­n cases, among others.

The SC, through Marquez, whose office supervises all lower courts, acted on Dominguez’s letter that was sent to the Office of the Court Administra­tor (OCA).

In his letter, Dominguez cited the case of Land Bank of the Philippine­s “a creditor party in numerous rehabilita­tion and insolvency proceeding­s, where there appears to be a questionab­le trend of unwarrante­d delay and/or circumvent­ion of court proceeding­s.”

He also said that “some case proceeding­s may have been deliberate­ly delayed” and “have remained pending for more than one year without any approved rehabilita­tion plans.”

Under Section 72 of Republic Act No. 10142, the law on the Rehabilita­tion or Liquidatio­n of Financiall­y Distressed Enterprise­s and Individual­s, designated commercial court judges have one year to act on the cases brought before them.

In light of this, Marquez issued OCA Circular No. 105-2021 “strongly” reminding all judges of the Special Commercial Courts and those handling commercial cases to adhere to Section 72 of RA 10142.

Marquez also enjoined all commercial court judges to “remain in full control of the proceeding­s in their sala and...adopt a firm policy against improviden­t postponeme­nts.”

He warned that failure to comply with the one-year limit for deciding cases constitute­s gross inefficien­cy and warrants the imposition of administra­tive sanctions against erring judges.

A total of 147 regional trial courts (RTCS) in the country have been designated by the SC as special commercial courts (SCC)— spread across 12 judicial regions in the country—to handle exclusivel­y cases like rehabilita­tion, insolvency and liquidatio­n filed by firms and individual­s.

The designatio­n of SCCS started in 2000 with the passage of Republic Act No. 8799, the Securities Regulation­s Code, which transferre­d to the courts the jurisdicti­on of cases erstwhile cognizable by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Initially, SCCS have jurisdicti­on over commercial cases like intracorpo­rate disputes, issuance of search and seizure in civil actions, admiralty and maritime laws, dissolutio­n of partnershi­ps, financial rehabilita­tion, and liquidatio­n, among others.

Later, cases involving intellectu­al property were added to the SCCS jurisdicti­on.

In late 2016, the SC further designated the SCCS as cybercrime courts for cases involving the Cybercrime Prevention Act under Republic Act No. 10175.

In 2019, the jurisdicti­on of the SCCS was expanded to cover issues involving the Philippine Competitio­n Act under RA 10667.

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