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Civil Procedure: Rule 34 - Judgment on the Pleadings

RULE 34
Judgment on the Pleadings

Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. — Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may; on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. However, in actions for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. (Rules of Court)

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What is judgment on the pleadings?
When is judgment on the pleadings proper?
When would an answer fail to tender an issue?
Can the court direct judgment on the pleadings motu proprio?
In what cases does judgment on the pleadings not allowed?
What is the effect of filing a motion for judgment on the pleadings?


What is judgment on the pleadings?

A judgment on the pleadings is a judgment on the facts as pleaded, and is based exclusively upon the allegations appearing in the pleadings of the parties and the accompanying annexes. (Sunbanon vs. Go, G.R. No. 163280, February 2, 2010)


When is judgment on the pleadings proper?

Judgment on the pleadings is proper if the Answer:

1. fails to tender an issue; or
2. admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading.


When would an answer fail to tender an issue?

The answer would fail to tender an issue if it does not comply with the requirements for a specific denial set out in Section 10 of Rule 8; and it would admit the material allegations of the adverse party's pleadings not only where it expressly confesses the truthfulness thereof but also if it omits to deal with them at all. (Vergara vs. Suelto, G.R. No. 74766, December 21, 1987)


Can the court direct judgment on the pleadings motu proprio?

A judgment on the pleadings can be done only upon motion to that effect filed by the appropriate party. It cannot be rendered by the court motu proprio.

However, if at pre-trial the court finds that a judgment on the pleadings is proper, it may render such judgment motu proprio. Section 2 of Rule 18 of the Rules of Court states: "The pre-trial is mandatory. The court shall consider: xxx (g) The propriety of rendering judgment on the pleadings, or summary judgment, or of dismissing the action should a valid ground therefor be found to exist; xxx"


In what cases does judgment on the pleadings not allowed?

In the following cases, judgment on the pleadings will not lie as it is required that the material facts alleged in the complaint must always be proved:
  1. Declaration of nullity of marriage;
  2. Annulment of marriage;
  3. Legal separation.

What is the effect of filing a motion for judgment on the pleadings?

1. By moving for judgment on the pleadings, the plaintiff waives his claim for unliquidated damages (because claims for such damages must be alleged and proved).

2. One who prays for the judgment on the pleadings without offering proof as to the truth of his own allegations and without giving the opposing party an opportunity to introduce evidence must be understood to admit all material and relevant allegations of the opposing party and to rest his motion for judgment upon those allegations taken together with such of his own as are admitted in the pleadings. [Falcasantos v. How Suy Ching (1952)]


Judgment on the pleadings vs. summary judgment

What distinguishes a judgment on the pleadings from a summary judgment is the presence of issues in the Answer to the Complaint. When the Answer fails to tender any issue, that is, if it does not deny the material allegations in the complaint or admits said material allegations of the adverse partys pleadings by admitting the truthfulness thereof and/or omitting to deal with them at all, a judgment on the pleadings is appropriate. On the other hand, when the Answer specifically denies the material averments of the complaint or asserts affirmative defenses, or in other words raises an issue, a summary judgment is proper provided that the issue raised is not genuine. A genuine issue means an issue of fact which calls for the presentation of evidence, as distinguished from an issue which is fictitious or contrived or which does not constitute a genuine issue for trial. (Basbas vs. Sayson, G.R. No. 172660, August 24, 2011) 

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