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Amendments by Leave of Court


Section 3. Amendments by leave of court. — Except as provided in the next preceding section, substantial amendments may be made only upon leave of court. But such leave may be refused if it appears to the court that the motion was made with intent to delay. Orders of the court upon the matters provided in this section shall be made upon motion filed in court, and after notice to the adverse party, and an opportunity to be heard. (Rule 10, Rules of Court)

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What is a substantial amendment?

It one that modifies or alters the cause of action or defenses.


Can you amend your cause of action or defense?

Before the service of a responsive pleading, a party has the absolute right to amend his pleading, regardless of whether a new cause of action or change in theory is introduced (substantial amendment). [Section 2, Rule 10]

After a responsive pleading has been filed, amendment may substantially alter the cause of action or defense. This should only be true, however, when despite a substantial change or alteration in the cause of action or defense, the amendments sought to be made shall serve the higher interests of substantial justice, and prevent delay and equally promote the laudable objective of the rules which is to secure a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. [Valenzuela v. Court of Appeals, 416 Phil. 289 (2001)]

If there is inexcusable delay or the taking of the adverse party by surprise or the like, amendment may be refused. (Siasco vs. CA, G.R. No. 132753. February 15, 1999)


●  Section 3, Rule 10 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure amended the former rule in such manner that the phrase or that the cause of action or defense is substantially altered was stricken-off and not retained in the new rules. The clear import of such amendment in Section 3, Rule 10 is that under the new rules, the amendment may (now) substantially alter the cause of action or defense. This should only be true, however, when despite a substantial change or alteration in the cause of action or defense, the amendments sought to be made shall serve the higher interests of substantial justice, and prevent delay and equally promote the laudable objective of the rules which is to secure a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. (Valenzuela v. Court of Appeals)

● The rationale for the aforementioned rule is in Section 3, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court, which provides that after a responsive pleading has been filed, an amendment may be rejected when the defense is substantially altered. Such amendment does not only prejudice the rights of the defendant; it also delays the action. In the first place, where a party has not yet filed a responsive pleading, there are no defenses that can be altered. Furthermore, the Court has held that [a]mendments to pleadings are generally favored and should be liberally allowed in furtherance of justice in order that every case may so far as possible be determined on its real facts and in order to speed the trial of cases or prevent the circuity of action and unnecessary expense, unless there are circumstances such as inexcusable delay or the taking of the adverse party by surprise or the like, which might justify a refusal of permission to amend. (Siasco vs. CA)

● The granting of leave to file amended pleading is a matter particularly addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court; and that discretion is broad, subject only to the limitations that the amendments should not substantially change the cause of action or alter the theory of the case, or that it was not made to delay the action. Nevertheless, as enunciated in Valenzuela, even if the amendment substantially alters the cause of action or defense, such amendment could still be allowed when it is sought to serve the higher interest of substantial justice; prevent delay; and secure a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of actions and proceedings.

The courts should be liberal in allowing amendments to pleadings to avoid a multiplicity of suits and in order that the real controversies between the parties are presented, their rights determined, and the case decided on the merits without unnecessary delay. This liberality is greatest in the early stages of a lawsuit, especially in this case where the amendment was made before the trial of the case, thereby giving the petitioners all the time allowed by law to answer and to prepare for trial.

Furthermore, amendments to pleadings are generally favored and should be liberally allowed in furtherance of justice in order that every case, may so far as possible, be determined on its real facts and in order to speed up the trial of the case or prevent the circuity of action and unnecessary expense. That is, unless there are circumstances such as inexcusable delay or the taking of the adverse party by surprise or the like, which might justify a refusal of permission to amend. (Tiu vs PBCom, G.R. No. 151932, August 19, 2009)


When does amendment require leave of court?

Leave of court is required for a substantial amendment made after service of a responsive pleading.


Why is leave of court required?

After a responsive pleading is filed, an amendment to the complaint may be substantial and will correspondingly require a substantial alteration in the defenses of the adverse party. The amendment of the complaint is not only unfair to the defendant but will cause unnecessary delay in the proceedings. Leave of court is thus, required. On the other hand, where no responsive pleading has yet been served, no defenses would be altered. The amendment of the pleading will not then require leave of court.


What are the requisites for amendments by leave of court?
  1. Motion filed in court;
  2. Notice to the adverse party;
  3. Opportunity to be heard afforded to the adverse party.

Substituting an actionable document

● Substituting an actionable document which is appended to the complaint is akin to an amendment and must therefore be done with leave of court if answer has already been served on the plaintiff. (Tiu v PBCom)

● Amendments to pleadings are generally favored and should be liberally allowed in furtherance of justice, unless there are circumstances such as inexcusable delay or by taking the adverse party by surprise which might justify a refusal of permission to amend. (Tiu v PBCom)


Instances when amendment by leave of court not allowed:
  1. when cause of action, defense or theory of the case is changed;
  2. amendment is intended to confer jurisdiction to the court;
  3. amendment to cure a premature or non-existing cause of action;
  4. amendment for purposes of delay

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