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What is the totality rule?


Sec. 5. Joinder of causes of action. —  A party may in one pleading assert, in the alternative or otherwise, as many causes of action as he may have against an opposing party, subject to the following conditions:
x x x
(d) Where the claims in all the causes action are principally for recovery of money, the aggregate amount claimed shall be the test of jurisdiction. (Rule 2, Rules of Court)


What is the totality rule?

Where the claims in all the causes action are principally for recovery of money, the aggregate amount claimed shall be the test of jurisdiction. (Sec. 5[d], Rule 2)


Example:

● D is the debtor of C for P350,000.00 due on January 5, 2007. D likewise owes C P350,000.00 due on February 13, 2007. Both debts are evidenced by distinct promissory notes. D has not paid the debts despite demand. Each debt is a separate cause of action because each is the subject of a different transaction. However, under the rule on joinder of causes of action, C may file a single suit against D for the collection of both debts, despite the claims being actually separate causes of actions and having arisen out of different transactions.

In case C decides in favor of a joinder, the suit shall be filed in the RTC because the total amount of the debts is within that court's jurisdiction. Under the Rules, when the claims in all the causes of action are principally for the recovery of money, the aggregate amount claimed shall be the test of jurisdiction (Sec. 5[d], Rule 2, Rules of Court). This situation follows the so-called totality test for purposes of jurisdiction. (Dean Riano)


P sued A in the RTC-Manila to recover the following sums: (1) P200,000.00 on an overdue promissory note, (2) P80,000.00 on the purchase price of a computer, (3) P150,000.00 for damages to his car, and (4) P100,000.00 for attorney's fees and litigation expenses. Can A move to dismiss the case on the ground that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter? Explain. (Bar 2002)

A cannot move for the successful dismissal of the case. Under the totality rule, the aggregate amount of the claim under the causes of action joined is P 430,000.00, an amount well within the jurisdiction of the RTC. The claim for attorney's fees and litigation expenses and costs are not to be included in determining the jurisdictional amount.

Where the cause of action accrues to one plaintiff against one defendant, the provisions of Sec. 5 of Rule 2 allow a party to assert in one pleading as many causes of action as he may have against an opposing party provided he does not join special civil actions or those subject to special rules. No special civil action is involved under the facts.


Note:

The totality rule applies only to the MTC – totality of claims cannot exceed the jurisdictional amount of the MTC. There is no totality rule for the RTC because its jurisdictional amount is without limit. Except in tax cases where the limit is below P1 million. Amounts of P1 million or more fall within the jurisdiction of the CTA. (Justice Magdalangal De Leon)

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