One cannot participate in trial if held in default by court


Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
A case was filed against me for collection of sum of money before a court in Metro Manila. Out of disbelief that this person filed a case against me, I did not appear in the hearings scheduled in the letter sent to me by the court. I then received notice that I was being held in default, and that I cannot participate in the proceedings. I think this is unfair. What does being in default mean? What should I do? Thank you!

Dear Ton-ton,
Rule 9, Section 3 of our Rules of Court states that when a court declares you in default, it means that you failed to answer the complaint within the time allowed by the court. The other party filed a motion with notice to you to declare you in default. When the court finds that you are in fact in default, it will proceed to render judgment granting the reliefs it is seeking from the court or renders judgment after the claimant submits evidence.

An order of default will subject the other party held in default to notice of subsequent proceedings, but he cannot take part in the trial.

It may seem unfair at first, but the law assumes that the notice which the respondent receives from the court, called a summons, is sufficient notification for the respondent to be aware that a case has been filed against him. The notice from the court requiring the respondent to answer the complaint within a certain period of time is enough for him to be prudent in preparing his own response to the complaint. If no answer is submitted, despite these notices, the respondent loses his opportunity to answer, as it appears that he has no interest in the outcome of the case.

Whatever your reason may be, Rule 9, Section 3(b) states that if you are declared in default, you may, at any time after notice and before judgment, file a motion to set aside the order of default. You must show to the court that your failure to answer was due to fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence and that you have a meritorious defense.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.


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