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Universal Robina Corporation vs. Lim Case Digest


A court may not dismiss an action motu proprio on the ground of improper venue as it is not one of the grounds wherein the court may dismiss an action motu proprio on the basis of the pleadings. 

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Facts: 

Universal Robina Corporation (URC) sold to Lim grocery products. After partial payment, Lim defaulted in his obligation. Thus, URC filed a complaint for sum of money before the RTC of Quezon City. The RTC  dismissed the complaint motu proprio on grounds of lack of jurisdiction and improper venue considering that URC's principal place of business is in Pasig City while Lim's residence is in Laoag City.  


Issue:

May the court dismiss the complaint motu proprio on the ground of improper venue?


Held:

No. Sections 2 and 4, Rule 4 of the Rules provide:

Sec. 2. Venue of personal actions. All other actions may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.

Sec. 4. When Rule not applicable. This Rule shall not apply
(a) In those cases where a specific rule or law provides otherwise; or
(b) Where the parties have validly agreed in writing before the filing of the action on the exclusive venue thereof.

Clearly, in personal actions, the plaintiff may commence an action either in the place of his or her residence or the place where the defendant resides. However, the parties may agree to a specific venue which could be in a place where neither of them resides.

Corollarily, Section 1, Rule 9 of the same Rules provides for the instances when the trial court may motu proprio dismiss a claim, thus:

Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim.

Implicit from the above provision is that improper venue not impleaded in the motion to dismiss or in the answer is deemed waived. Thus, a court may not dismiss an action motu proprio on the ground of improper venue as it is not one of the grounds wherein the court may dismiss an action motu proprio on the basis of the pleadings. (Universal Robina Corporation vs. Lim, G.R. No. 154338, October 5, 2007)

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