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Voluntary Appearance


Sec. 20. Voluntary Appearance. — The defendant's voluntary appearance in the action shall be equivalent to service of summons. The inclusion in a motion to dismiss of other grounds aside from lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant shall not be deemed a voluntary appearance(Rule 14, Rules of Court)


When is jurisdiction over the person of the defendant required?

Jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is required only in actions in personam. And this is mandatory.


How is jurisdiction over the person of the defendant acquired?

Jurisdiction over a defendant in a civil case is acquired either through:
  1. a valid service of summons or 
  2. the defendant's voluntary appearance in court. 
Stated otherwise, without a valid service of summons, the court cannot acquire jurisdiction over the defendant, unless the defendant voluntarily submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court. When the defendant does not voluntarily submit to the court's jurisdiction or there is no valid service of summons, any judgment of the court over the defendant will be null and void for lack of jurisdiction over the defendant.


When is a person deemed to have made a voluntary appearance? 

● As a general proposition, one who seeks an affirmative relief is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court. It is by reason of this rule that we have had occasion to declare that the filing of motions to admit answer, for additional time to file answer, for reconsideration of a default judgment, and to lift order of default with motion for reconsideration, is considered voluntary submission to the court’s jurisdiction. (Prudential Bank vs. Magdamit, G.R. No. 183795, November 12, 2014)

● By seeking affirmative relief other than dismissal of the case, respondents manifested their voluntary submission to the courts jurisdiction. It is well-settled that the active participation of a party in the proceedings is tantamount to an invocation of the courts jurisdiction and a willingness to abide by the resolution of the case, and will bar said party from later on impugning the courts jurisdiction. (PCIB vs. Sps. Dy, G.R. No. 171137, June 5, 2009)

● A voluntary appearance is a waiver of the necessity of a formal notice. An appearance in whatever form, without explicitly objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person, is a submission to the jurisdiction of the court over the person. (PCIB vs. Sps. Dy)


When is a person not deemed to have made a voluntary appearance? 

Voluntary Appearance, however, is tempered by the concept of conditional appearance, such that a party who makes a special appearance to challenge, among others, the court’s jurisdiction over his person cannot be considered to have submitted to its authority.

Prescinding from the foregoing, it is thus clear that:
  1. Special appearance operates as an exception to the general rule on voluntary appearance;
  2. Accordingly, objections to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the defendant must be explicitly made, i.e., set forth in an unequivocal manner; and
  3. Failure to do so constitutes voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the court, especially in instances where a pleading or motion seeking affirmative relief is filed and submitted to the court for resolution. 
Measured against these standards, it is readily apparent that respondents have acquiesced to the jurisdiction of the trial court as early as June 17, 2003, when they filed their Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Prosecute. Significantly, the motion did not categorically and expressly raise the jurisdiction of the court over their persons as an issue. (Prudential Bank vs. Magdamit)


Problems:

1. B was not summoned. Upon hearing, however, that he was sued, he filed in court a motion for extension of time to file the answer which the court granted. B did not file the answer. The plaintiff now moves that B declared in default. B opposes the motion saying that the court has not acquired jurisdiction over his person because he was not summoned. Is the contention of B correct?

No, because when B filed a motion for extension of time to file the answer, he prayed for a relief and that is the extension of the time. By so filing the motion, he voluntarily recognized the jurisdiction of the court over his person.


2. B, the defendant was not validly summoned. He nevertheless filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the court has not acquired jurisdiction over his person. He prayed for the dismissal of the complaint. The motion was denied. Is B deemed to have voluntarily submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court by filing this motion to dismiss?

No, because precisely he contested the jurisdiction of the court over his person.


3.  Suppose B files a motion to dismiss on several grounds, the foremost of these is that, the court did not acquire jurisdiction over his person because no valid summons was served on him. In addition, he also invoke improper venue and the facts alleged in the complaint do not constitute a cause of action. The motion was denied, is B deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court?

No, the inclusion in a motion to dismiss of other grounds aside from lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant shall not be deemed a voluntary appearance. (Sec. 20, Rule 14, Rules of Court)

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