Legal Ethics

Apolinario Melo vs Court of Appeals

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G.R. No. 123686 – 318 SCRA 94 – Legal Ethics – Duties to the Court – Forum Shopping 

Arsenia Coronel incurred a P60k loan from the Rural Bank of Mabalacat. To secure the loan, she mortgaged her property. She was not able to pay the loan hence her property was foreclosed. The highest bidder were spouses Apolinario and Lilia Melo who later filed a petition for ex-parte issuance of a writ of possession in their favor before Branch 60 of RTC Angeles City.

Coronel countered this by filing a complaint for injunction before Branch 57 of RTC Angeles City. In the original complaint, Coronel did not attach a certification of non-forum shopping. Later, she amended the complaint to include the said certification.

ISSUE: Whether or not Coronel is guilty of forum shopping.

HELD: No. There is no forum shopping in this case. The case pending before Branch 60 of RTC Angeles is totally different from the case pending in Branch 57 of the same court. Hence, there is no forum shopping.

Coronel’s complaint is however dismissed without prejudice because of her failure to attach the certification of non-forum shopping in her complaint. The requirement to file a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory. Failure to comply with this requirement cannot be excused by the fact that Coronel is not guilty of forum shopping. The rule applies to any complaint, petition, application, or other initiatory pleading, regardless of whether the party filing it has actually committed forum shopping. Every party filing a complaint or any other initiatory pleading is required to swear under oath that he has not and will not commit forum shopping. Compliance with the certification against forum shopping is separate from, and independent of, the avoidance of forum shopping itself. Coronel’s subsequent compliance did not cure this defect.

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