I work as a freelance writer and I advertise my services online. I once had a client who engaged my services in the span of six months for an agreed total fee of P75,000. As my usual practice, we had a contract that clearly stipulated the amount of compensation for my services and the date of its full payment, which is after the completion of the work. I already completed the work over a month ago and I have yet to receive the full payment for my services. I only received P25,000 representing the initial down payment when our contract was signed. I already went to their office personally and even sent them numerous demand letters asking them to pay me the remaining P50,000 balance but to no avail. I heard that I can file a collection claim against them under the small claims court. What is the procedure for this? And can you also please clarify if I still need to have a lawyer for my complaint? I hope to hear from your office. Thanks!
Under the 2016 Revised Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases, claims for money owed based from contract of services, such as in your case, are among those that may be filed under the Small Claims Court (SCC) (Section 5(a)). In addition to this, your claim is within the two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000) jurisdictional limit of the SCC which makes your claim rightfully under its jurisdiction. (Section 2, Id.)
In filing your claim before the SCC, you will need to fill up prepared forms to state the necessary information of your claim and include therein the certified copies of your contract along with affidavits of your witnesses, if any, and other documents that support your claim which will then be part of the evidence of your case. (Section 6, Id.) You may then file it before the SCC in the Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Court in the place where you reside or where your client resides.
As to the cost of filing a case under the SCC, you will still be required to pay the necessary docket fees and other legal fees. However, the law provides that you will only need to pay P1,000 for the service of summons and processes should you be able to prove your status as an indigent. (Section 10, Id.)
With regard to your concern on the need for a lawyer, the rules on SCC expressly prohibit the appearance of a lawyer for both parties of the case unless a lawyer is one of the parties in a small claims case. (Section 19,Id.) Thus, you don’t need a lawyer in your case before the SCC.
After the filing of your claim, the SCC shall require your opposing party to give their response and answer to your claims against them. After this, a judge will conduct a hearing wherein there will be a mediation in an attempt to settle your claims. Should this be unfruitful, the hearing of the case shall proceed in an expeditious manner after which the court shall render its decision based on the facts established by evidence. The decision rendered by the SCC shall be final and unappealable. And should you win in your case, you may file a motion for the execution of the decision in your favor so that you may finally receive the remaining balance from your client
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
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