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Civil Procedure: Rule 12 - Bill of Particulars

RULE 12
Bill of Particulars

Section 1. When applied for; purpose. — Before responding to a pleading, a party may move for a definite statement or for a bill of particulars of any matter which is not averted with sufficient definiteness or particularity to enable him properly to prepare his responsive pleading. If the pleading is a reply, the motion must be filed within ten (10) days from service thereof. Such motion shall point out the defects complained of, the paragraphs wherein they are contained, and the details desired. (1a)

Section 2. Action by the court. — Upon the filing of the motion, the clerk of court must immediately bring it to the attention of the court which may either deny or grant it outright, or allow the parties the opportunity to be heard. 

Section 3. Compliance with order. — If the motion is granted, either in whole or in part, the compliance therewith must be effected within ten (10) days from notice of the order, unless a different period is fixed by the court. The bill of particulars or a more definite statement ordered by the court may be filed either in a separate or in an amended pleading, serving a copy thereof on the adverse party. 

Section 4. Effect of non-compliance. — If the order is not obeyed, or in case of insufficient compliance therewith, the court may order the striking out of the pleading or the portions thereof to which the order was directed or make such other order as it deems just. 

Section 5. Stay of period to file responsive pleading. — After service of the bill of particulars or of a more definite pleading, or after notice of denial of his motion, the moving party may file his responsive pleading within the period to which he was entitled at the time of filing his motion, which shall not be less than five (5) days in any event.

Section 6. Bill a part of pleading. — A bill of particulars becomes part of the pleading for which it is intended. (Rules of Court)


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What is the concept of Bill of Particulars?

Under the Rules, the defendant is required to answer the complaint within fifteen (15) days from service of summons. However, if there are matters in the complaint which are vague or ambiguous or not averred with sufficient definiteness, the defendant need not file his answer to the complaint within the required period. Instead, he may file a motion for a more definite statement or motion for bill of particulars.

Note: A motion for bill of particulars is not directed only to a complaint. It is a motion that applies to any pleading which in the perception of the movant contains ambiguous allegations.


What is the purpose for filing of a motion for a bill of particulars?

● It is the office or function, as well as the object or purpose, of a bill of particulars to amplify or limit a pleading, specify more minutely and particularly a claim or defense set up and pleaded in general terms, give information, not contained in the pleading, to the opposite party and the court as to the precise nature, character, scope, and extent of the cause of action or defense relied on by the pleader, and apprise the opposite party of the case which he has to meet, to the end that the proof at the trial may be limited to the matter specified, and in order that surprise at, and needless preparations for, the trial may be avoided, and that the opposite party may be aided in framing his answering pleading and preparing for trial. It has also been stated that it is the function or purpose of a bill of particulars to define, clarify, particularize, and limit or circumscribe the issues in the case, to expedite the trial, and assist the court. A general function or purpose of a bill of particulars is to prevent injustice or do justice in the case when that cannot be accomplished without the aid of such a bill. (Republic vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 115748. August 7, 1996)

●  It is not the office of a bill of particulars to supply material allegations necessary to the validity of a pleading, or to change a cause of action or defense stated in the pleading, or to state a cause of action or defense other than the one stated. Also it is not the office or function, or a proper object, of a bill of particulars to set forth the pleader's theory of his cause of action or a rule of evidence on which he intends to rely, or to furnish evidential information whether such information consists of evidence which the pleader proposes to introduce or of facts which constitute a defense or offset for the other party or which will enable the opposite party to establish an affirmative defense not yet pleaded. (Virata vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 106527. April 6, 1993) 

● A party's right to move for a bill of particulars in accordance with Section 1 of Rule 12 when the allegations of the complaint are vague and uncertain is intended to afford a party not only a chance to properly prepare a responsive pleading but also an opportunity to prepare an intelligent answer. This is to avert the danger where the opposing party will find difficulty in squarely meeting the issues raised against him and plead the corresponding defenses which if not timely raised in the answer will be deemed waived.

The proper preparation of an intelligent answer requires information as to the precise nature, character, scope and extent of the cause of action in order that the pleader may be able to squarely meet the issues raised, thereby circumscribing them within determined confines and preventing surprises during the trial, and in order that he may set forth his defenses which may not be so readily availed of if the allegations controverted are vague, indefinite, uncertain or are mere general conclusions. The latter task assumes significance because defenses not pleaded (save those excepted in Sec. 2, Rule 9, and whenever appropriate, the defenses of prescription) in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. (Republic vs. Sandiganbayan)


When may a Motion for Bill of Particulars be filed?

A motion for a bill of particulars is to be filed before responding to a pleading (Sec. 1, Rule 12)

The period to file a motion refers to the period for filing the responsive pleading in Rule 11. Thus, where the motion for bill of particulars is directed to a complaint, the motion should be filed within fifteen (15) days after service of summons. If the motion is directed to a counterclaim, then the same must be filed within ten (10) days from service of the counterclaim which is the period provided for by Sec. 4, Rule 11 to answer a counterclaim. In case of a reply to which no responsive pleading is provided for by the Rules, the motion for bill of particulars must be filed within ten (10) days of the service of said reply (Sec. 1, Rule 12). (Dean Riano)


What is the effect of the filing of the motion for Bill of Particulars on the period to file a responsive pleading?

When a motion for bill of particulars is filed, the period for the filing of the responsive pleading is stayed or interrupted.


When does the period starts to run again?

It starts to run again after SERVICE of the bill of particulars upon the movant if his motion is granted or after NOTICE of the denial of his motion if it was denied


Within what period should the movant file his responsive pleading following the service of bill of particulars or the notice of denial of his motion?

After service of the bill of particulars or of a more definite pleading, or after notice of denial of his motion, the moving party may file his responsive pleading within the period to which he was entitled at the time of filing his motion, which shall not be less than five (5) days in any event. (Rule 12, Sec. 5)

If the movant has less than 5 days to file his responsive pleading after service of the bill of particulars or after notice of the denial of his motion, he nevertheless has 5 days within which to file his responsive pleading.

Example 1:

B received the summons on January 2.
B filed a motion for bill of particulars on January 9. 
He already consumed 7 days of the original 15-day period to file an Answer. 
Consequently, he still has 8 days to file an Answer.
On January 10, he received the bill of particulars submitted by A or the order denying his motion.
Therefore, his last day for filing an Answer would be on January 18. 

Example 2:

B received the summons on January 2.
B filed a motion for bill of particulars on January 15. 
He already consumed 13 days of the original 15-day period to file an Answer.
Consequently, he still has 2 days to file an Answer.
On January 10, he received the bill of particulars submitted by A or the order denying his motion.
Therefore, his last day for filing an Answer would be on January 15. 
Why not January 12?
Because the rule says, "shall not be less than 5 days in any event" (Rule 12, Sec. 5)


To be considered meritorious, what is required of the motion?

The motion for bill of particulars must point out:
  1. the DEFECTS complained of, 
  2. the PARAGRAPHS wherein they are contained, and 
  3. the DETAILS desired. 

Is a motion for bill of particulars a litigated motion?

No. Under the old rules, a motion for a bill of particular was a litigated motion because thereunder, the court must set for hearing a motion for bill of particulars. This is no longer the case. Under the new rules, the court can resolve the motion for a bill of particulars ex parte or with notice to the adverse party.


What are the actions which the court can take on the motion for bill of particulars?

Upon receipt of the motion, the clerk of court must immediately bring it to the attention of the court. The latter has three possible options, namely: 
  1. to DENY the motion outright,
  2. to GRANT the motion outright or 
  3. to hold a HEARING on the motion.

What must the pleader do when the motion for a bill of particular is granted?

If a motion for bill of particulars is granted, the pleader must submit a bill of particulars to the pleading to which the motion is directed. The compliance must be effected within 10 days from notice of the order unless a different period is fixed by the court (Sec. 3, Rule 12).

If the court does not fix the period within which A must file the bill, it is understood that he has a 10-day period. That period cannot be shortened; it can be extended, but never shortened.


Two ways to comply
  1. Just submit the details of the vague paragraphs in a separate pleading or 
  2. Amend the whole complaint and clarify the vague paragraphs (Sec. 3, Rule 12)

Forms part of the pleading

The bill of particulars submitted becomes part of the pleading for which it is intended (Sec. 6, Rule 12).


What are the sanctions against the failure of the plaintiff to comply with the order of the court directing him to file a bill of particulars?

If the order to file a bill of particulars is not obeyed, or in case of insufficient compliance therewith, the court may: 
  1. order the striking out of the pleading or 
  2. order the striking the portions thereof to which the order was directed, or
  3. make such other order as it deems just (Sec. 4)
  4. dismiss the case for non-compliance with the court order (Rule 17, Rule 3)
● If the complaint was ordered stricken out, then it is equivalent to dismissal of the case.


Does a party's right to move for a bill of particulars include matters of evidentiary in nature?

No. It doesn‘t include matters of evidentiary in nature, which are covered by Modes of Discovery.


Is there a Bill of Particulars in criminal cases?

Yes.  Rule 116, Sec. 9. 

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