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Civil Procedure: Rule 27 - Production or Inspection of Documents or Things

RULE 27
Production or Inspection of Documents or Things

Section 1. Motion for production or inspection; order. — Upon motion of any party showing good cause therefor, the court in which an action is pending may (a) order any party to produce and permit the inspection and copying or photographing, by or on behalf of the moving party, of any designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, not privileged, which constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action and which are in his possession, custody or control, or (b) order any party to permit entry upon designated land or other property in his possession or control for the purpose of inspecting, measuring, surveying, or photographing the property or any designated relevant object or operation thereon. The order shall specify the time, place and manner of making the inspection and taking copies and photographs, and may prescribe such terms and conditions as are just. (Rules of Court)


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What is the purpose of Rule 27?

● The purpose of this mode of discovery is to allow a party to seek an order from the court in which the action is pending to:
  1. order any party to produce and permit the inspection and copying or photographing, by or on behalf of the moving party, of any designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, not privileged, which constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action and which are in his possession, custody or control;
  2. order any party to permit entry upon designated land or other property in his possession or control for the purpose of inspecting, measuring, surveying, or photographing the property or any designated relevant object or operation thereon.

● This remedial measure is intended to assist in the administration of justice by facilitating and expediting the preparation of cases for trial and guarding against undesirable surprise and delay; and it is designed to simplify procedure and obtain admissions of facts and evidence, thereby shortening costly and time-consuming trials. It is based on ancient principles of equity. More specifically, the purpose of the statute is to enable a party-litigant to discover material information which, by reason of an opponent's control, would otherwise be unavailable for judicial scrutiny, and to provide a convenient and summary method of obtaining material and competent documentary evidence in the custody or under the control of an adversary. It is a further extension of the concept of pretrial. (Solidbank vs. Gateway Enterprises Corporation, G.R. No. 164805, April 30, 2008)


● Rule 27 of the Revised Rules of Court permits fishing for evidence, the only limitation being that the documents, papers, etc., sought to be produced are not privileged, that they are in the possession of the party ordered to produce them and that they are material to any matter involved in the action. (Solidbank vs. Gateway Enterprises Corporation)


What are the requisites in order that a party may compel the other party to produce or allow the inspection of documents or things?

The requisites are the following:
  1. The party must file a motion for the production or inspection of documents or things, showing good cause therefor;
  2. Notice of the motion must be served to all other parties of the case;
  3. The motion must designate the documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things which the party wishes to be produced and inspected;
  4. Such documents, etc., are not privileged;
  5. Such documents, etc., constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action, and
  6. Such documents, etc., are in the possession, custody or control of the other party. (Solidbank vs. Gateway Enterprises Corporation)

● The order shall specify the time, place and manner of making the inspection and taking copies and photographs, and may prescribe such terms and conditions as are just (Sec. 1, Rule 27, Rules of Court).

● Rule 27 does not specify the period when a party can avail of this remedy.


PRODUCTION OR INSPECTION OF DOCUMENTS OR THINGS (Rule 27) SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM
Rule 21
essentially a mode of discovery means of compelling production of evidence
the Rules is limited to the parties to the action may be directed to a person whether a party or not
the order under this Rule is issued only upon motion with notice to the adverse party may be issued upon an ex parte application


Illustration:

A and B are litigating over a piece of land. A alleges in his complaint that he brought this lot in question from C, the father of B. B wants to see this supposed deed. B said, “A can you kindly lend me this document you mention.”

Q.   Do you think A will agree?
A.   Of course, in all probability A will refuse. He will say, “You will have the opportunity to see this document in court when I present it as evidence. In the meantime, you (B) doubt that your father C sold this property since this is a document material to the claim of A.

Q.  What then is the remedy of B?
A.  Rule 27. Under this rule, a party to a case for good reason shown may file a motion requesting the adverse party to produce a document or object under the control or custody of the adverse party. For what purpose? So that the party asking for the production of document may examine, copy, photograph  the document.

Q.   Is there a particular time when this motion on the part of B may be filed?
A.   No, unlike a deposition pending action or written interrogatories or request for admission, which fix a period within which his remedies may be amended of, Rule 27 does not specify the period when a party can avail of this remedy.

Q.   If you were B in this example, how would you avail of the benefits of Rule 27?
A.   This is what you will do:

File a motion that A be required to produce that deed of sale he referred to. State in your motion the fact that this document referred to in the complaint contains evidence material to the case that this document is under the custody or control of A. State the reason why you want to examine it, and therefore pray that A be ordered to produce the document.

Of course, the motion must be filed in accordance with Rule 15, it must be heard, i.e with due notice of A.

On the day of the hearing, the court will hear the parties and thereafter will rule on the motion whether:

(1) to deny the motion in which case A will not be ordered to produce the document or

(2) grant the motion, in which case the court will require A to do the following: to produce the document before a specified person on a specific time, so that B can examine the document, photograph the document, copy the document if B wants. Normally, when an order is issued by the court directing a party to produce the document, the document specifies the officer before whom the document should be produced. Normally, it is the clerk of court who is designated as the officer before the document should be produced.

So in our example, the court may require A to produce that document before its clerk of court on a particular date and hour. The order will direct A to allow B to go over the document, copy the document, photograph the document. When? On the date and hour mentioned in the order. Where? Before the person named in the order.

Q.  Can B however take hold of this document and bring it home for scrutiny?
A.  No, he is only authorized to examine it before the clerk of court.

Q.  What will be the advantage of this examining?
A.  If after B examining the document believes that that is a forgery, he can take steps to have this matter inquired into. So he can now, for instance, move that A be required to submit this document for examination by a handwriting expert.

This rule equally applies within respect to real property or an object for that matter.

Let us assume that A wants to see the land in question, which is now in the possession of B, for what purpose? To determine, for instance, how big is the area thereof developed or planted by B so that A can estimate the damages, that he may have sustained by reason of his having been deprived of the fruits of the property.

Q.  If you were A, you would approach B to allow you enter and see the land and have it surveyed. Do you think B will allow you?
A.  He will not.

Q.  What is the remedy?
A.  A will file a motion.
Q.  What is the prayer in the motion?
A.  That B be ordered to allow A to enter upon the land, survey, etc.

So with the entry now of A upon the land, he will be able to determine the extent of the cultivation of B.

See, how their discovery will help A!!! (Source: Laggui Remedial Law Reviewer)

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