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Special Civil Actions: Rule 62 - Interpleader


Rule 62
Interpleader

Section 1. When interpleader proper. — Whenever conflicting claims upon the same subject matter are or may be made against a person who claims no interest whatever in the subject matter, or an interest which in whole or in part is not disputed by the claimants, he may bring an action against the conflicting claimants to compel them to interplead and litigate their several claims among themselves. (1a, R63)

Section 2. Order. — Upon the filing of the complaint, the court shall issue an order requiring the conflicting claimants to interplead with one another. If the interests of justice so require, the court may direct in such order that the subject matter be paid or delivered to the court. (2a, R63)

Section 3. Summons. — Summons shall be served upon the conflicting claimants, together with a copy of the complaint and order. (3, R63)

Section 4. Motion to dismiss. — Within the time for filing an answer, each claimant may file a motion to dismiss on the ground of impropriety of the interpleader action or on other appropriate grounds specified in Rule 16. The period to file the answer shall be tolled and if the motion is denied, the movant may file his answer within the remaining period, but which shall not be less than five (5) days in any event, reckoned from notice of denial. (n)

Section 5. Answer and other pleadings. — Each claimant shall file his answer setting forth his claim within fifteen (15) days from service of the summons upon him, serving a copy thereof upon each of the other conflicting claimants who may file their reply thereto as provided by these Rules. If any claimant fails to plead within the time herein fixed, the court may, on motion, declare him in default and thereafter render judgment barring him from any claim in respect to the subject matter.

The parties in an interpleader action may file counterclaims, cross-claims, third-party complaints and responsive pleadings thereto, as provided by these Rules. (4a, R63)

Section 6. Determination. — After the pleadings of the conflicting claimants have been filed, and pre-trial has been conducted in accordance with the Rules, the court shall proceed to determine their respective rights and adjudicate their several claims. (5a, R63)

Section 7. Docket and other lawful fees, costs and litigation expenses as liens. — The docket and other lawful fees paid by the party who filed a complaint under this Rule, as well as the costs and litigation expenses, shall constitute a lien or change upon the subject matter of the action, unless the court shall order otherwise. (6a, R63) (Rule 62, Rules of Court)

What is an interpleader?

Interpleader is a remedy whereby a person who has property in his possession or has an obligation to render wholly or partially, without claiming any right in both, comes to court and asks that the defendants who have made upon him conflicting claims upon the same property or who consider themselves entitled to demand compliance with the obligation be required to litigate among themselves in order to determine who is entitled to the property or payment of the obligation. (Beltran vs. PHHC, G.R. No. L-25138, August 28, 1969)


What is the purpose of interpleader?

The remedy is afforded not to protect a person against a double liability but to protect him against a double vexation in respect of one liability. (Beltran vs. PHHC)

1. A classic example is that of a warehouseman who has custody of goods claimed to be owned by two or more persons who do not have the same interests. He may file an action for interpleader for the court to determine the rightful owner. The basis of the need to file an interpleader in the case of a warehouseman is actually the substantive law provisions of the Warehouse Receipts Law. Under said law, where a warehouseman delivers the goods to one who is not in fact entitled to possession, the warehouseman shall be liable for conversion (Sec. 10, Warehouse Receipts Law). He may also be sued for damages for non-delivery if he refuses to deliver the goods. Hence, Sec. 17 of the same law authorizes the warehouseman to require all known claimants to interplead to shield him from liability. (Dean Riano)

2. Another usual example is the case of a lessee who may commence a complaint for interpleader when he is confronted with adverse claimants on the rentals due and he is in doubt as to which of them should be the rightful recipient.

Recall that under the Civil Code of the Philippines, a cardinal principle to be observed for the validity of payment or performance is that payment must be made "to the person in whose favor the obligation was constituted" (Art. 1240, Civil Code of the Philippines). This means that as a rule, payment to the wrong person is not a valid payment and does not extinguish the obligation. Where two or more persons who do not represent the same interests claim the right to collect, the debtor will have to file an action for interpleader to effect the extinguishment of his obligation. (Dean Riano)


What are the requisites of interpleader?

1. There must be two or more claimants with adverse or conflicting interests to a property in the custody or possession of the plaintiff.

2. The plaintiff has NO CLAIM upon the subject matter of the adverse claims, or if he has an interest at all, such interest is NOT DISPUTED by the claimants.

3. The subject matter of the adverse claims must be one and the same.


What court has jurisdiction over an interpleader case?

1. MTC - If the subject matter of the action is personal property, valued at not more than P300,000.00 outside Metro Manila, and in Metro Manila, at not more than P400,000.00, the Municipal Trial Court has jurisdiction.

2. RTC - If the subject matter is real property with an assessed value at not more than P20,000.00 outside Metro Manila, and in Metro Manila, at not more than P50,000.00, the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction.


When should the interpleader be filed?

An action for interpleader should be filed within a reasonable time after a dispute has arisen without waiting to be sued by either of the contending claimants. Otherwise, he may be barred by laches or undue delay. (Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club vs. Won, G.R. No. L-23851, March 26, 1976)


If the the allegations of the complaint do not show conflicting claims between or among the persons required to interplead, what would be the ground for the dismissal of the complaint for interpleader?

It is believed that where the allegations of the complaint do not show conflicting claims between or among the persons required to interplead, the complaint for interpleader is subject to dismissal on the ground of impropriety of the interpleader, not a failure to state a cause of action under Rule 16 because the meaning of a cause of action in ordinary civil actions cannot apply to an interpleader. Besides, for an interpleader to be proper such conflicting claims must exist (Sec. 1, Rule 62, Rules of Court). Conversely, there is impropriety where no such adverse claims can be found from the reading of the complaint. (Dean Riano)


Procedure:

1. Filing: A complaint for interpleader is filed by the person against whom the conflicting claims are made. The docket, other lawful fees, costs and other litigation expenses shall be paid by the complainant; but these will constitute a lien or charge upon the subject matter of the action, unless the
court hold otherwise.

2. Court Order: Upon filing of the complaint, the court shall issue an order requiring the conflicting claimants to interplead with one another. If the interests of justice so require, the court may direct that the subject matter be paid or delivered to the court.

3. Summons: Summons shall be served upon the conflicting claimants, together with a copy of the complaint and order.

4. Motion to Dismiss: Within the time for filing an answer (15 days), each claimant may file a motion to dismiss on the grounds specified in Rule 16 and on the ground of impropriety of the action for interpleader.

The period to file an answer is interrupted or tolled by the filing of the motion to dismiss. If the motion is denied, the movant may file his answer within the remaining period to answer, but which shall NOT BE LESS THAN 5 days in any event from the notice of denial of the motion.

5. Answer: Each claimant shall file his answer within 15 days from service of the summons, serving a copy thereof upon each of the other conflicting claimants, who may file their reply thereto.

If claimant fails to plead within the time herein fixed, the court may, on motion, declare him in default and render judgment barring him from any claim in respect to the subject matter.

6. Other pleadings: The parties may file counterclaims, crossclaims, third-party complaints and responsive pleadings thereto.

7. Pre-trial: A pre‐trial will be conducted in accordance with the Rules of Court.

8. Determination: Court shall determine conflicting claimants’ respective rights and adjudicate their several claims.


Bar Questions:

LTA, Inc. is the lessee of a building owned by Mr. Tenorio paying rental of P10,000.00 a month. The owner died on May 10, 1988 and since then, LTA has not paid the monthly rentals, now amounting to P40,000.00 because two women are both claiming to be widows of Tenorio and are demanding rental payments. What legal action may LTA's counsel take, before what court and against whom to protect LTA's interest? (Bar 1996)

Suggested answer.

LTAs counsel should file an action for interpleader against the two women and pray that the court resolve their conflicting claims. The action should be filed in the Municipal Trial Court because the subject of the action is an amount within the jurisdiction of said court. Note: When the question was asked, jurisdiction was with the Regional Trial Court. At that time the jurisdictional amount for the RTC was an amount exceeding P10,000.00.


A lost the cashier's check she purchased from XYZ Bank. Upon being notified of the loss, XYZ Bank immediately issued a "STOP PAYMENT" order. Here comes B trying to encash the same cashier's check but XYZ Bank refused payment. As precautionary measure what remedy may XYZ Bank avail of with respect to the conflicting claims of A and B over the cashier's check? Explain. (Bar 1996)

Suggested answer:

XYX Bank should file a complaint for interpleader and leave unto the court the resolution of the conflicting claims of A and B. Note: The examiner made reference to "conflicting claims." This is a clue as to what the examiner desires as an answer. The examinee should therefore, refrain from making assumptions or unnecessary analysis.


H insured his life with X Insurance Co. and designated W as beneficiary. The policy provided that the beneficiary could be changed by a written notice designating the new beneficiary sent by the insured and received by X Insurance Co. before the death of the insured. After the death of H, Q demanded from X Insurance Co. the proceeds of the policy, claiming that she had been designated as the beneficiary by H as may be seen from a copy of a written notice signed by H and allegedly received by X Insurance Co. before X's death. W who is also demanding from X Insurance Co. the proceeds of the policy, claims that the signature of H appearing on the written notice is forged. As counsel for X Insurance Co., what advice would you give to your client and why?  (Bar 1978)

Suggested answer:

I would advice my client not to pay either of the claimants in the meantime and instead file a complaint for interpleader against them and let the court resolve their conflicting claims (Sec. 1, Rule 63, Rules of Court).


What courts have jurisdiction over the following cases filed in Metro Manila?
xxx
(d) An action for interpleader to determine who between the defendants is entitled to receive the amount of P190, 000.00 from the plaintiff.

Suggested answer.

(d) The action shall be filed in the Metropolitan Court in Metro Manila. The amount of P190, 000.00 not being in excess of P400, 000.00, is within the jurisdiction of said court. (Bar 1997)
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