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Duque vs. Court of Appeals Case Digest


The general rule is that all notices must be served upon counsel and not upon the party. However, the general rule cannot apply where the law expressly provides that notice must be served upon a definite person. In such cases, service must be made directly upon the person mentioned in the law and upon no other in order that the notice be valid.

Request for admission should be served on the party to whom the request is directed.


Facts: 

Petitioner Duque filed a case for sum of money against Sps. Bonifacio alleging that alleging that the latter negotiated with her certain checks in exchange for cash in the total amount of P270,000.00. Petitioner Valenzuela alleged the same circumstances in her complaint, except that with her, the total amount involved is P432,000.00. 

In their Answers, the respondents spouses denied, among others, having personally negotiated with the plaintiffs any of the checks annexed to the complaints.

Subsequently, petitioners filed a Request for Admission and furnished Spouses Bonifacio's counsel. Petitioners requested the admission of three things: first, that respondents negotiated with the plaintiffs for valuable consideration the checks annexed to the respective complaints; second, that defendant Edna N. Bonifacio signed separate promissory notes, both dated November 23, 1987 acknowledging that she is indebted to plaintiff Fortunata Duque in the sum of P270,000.00 and to plaintiff Marcosa Valenzuela in the sum of P432,000.00; and third, that the plaintiffs in the two (2) cases sent letters of demand commonly dated November 28, 1987 which the latter received on December 5, 1987.

For failure of the respondents spouses to respond to the aforementioned request, the RTC issued an order which reads in part:

Defendants failure to deny under oath the matters of which an admission is requested or setting forth in detail the reason why he cannot truthfully admit/deny those matters in accordance with the cited provisions of the Rules of Court is an implied admission of the matters of which admission is requested.

Eventually, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of the petitioners. The CA, however, reversed the decision. It reasoned that the matters of which admission by the appellants is being sought in the appellees separate requests for admission are, or pertain to those already denied by the former in their respective Answers to the two Complaints filed against them and that appellants counsel were served copies of said requests but such is not compliance with the requirements of the rule.


Issues: 

1. Whether or not the failure of the private respondents to respond to the request for admission by the petitioners is tantamount to an implied admission under Sections 1 and 2, Rule 26 of the Rules of Court

2. Was there a valid service of the request for admission?


Held: 

1. No. As expounded by this Court in Po vs. Court of Appeals: A party should not be compelled to admit matters of fact already admitted by his pleading and concerning which there is no issue, nor should he be required to make a second denial of those already denied in his answer to the complaint. A request for admission is not intended to merely reproduce or reiterate the allegations of the requesting partys pleading but should set forth relevant evidentiary matters of fact, or documents described in and exhibited with the request, whose purpose is to establish said party's cause of action or defense. Unless it serves that purpose, it is, as correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, pointless, useless and a mere redundancy.

The first matter sought to be admitted by the petitioners pertains to the checks supposedly negotiated by the respondents to the plaintiffs. As correctly observed by the appellate court, these are the same checks referred to and annexed in the Complaint. Clearly therefrom, to require an admission on this point even though it was already denied in the Answer would be superfluous.

On the second matter requested, petitioners sought the admission of respondents that Edna Bonifacio executed promissory notes in favor of the petitioners acknowledging therein her indebtedness to them in the amount of P270,000.00 and P432,000.00. The appellate court held that the allegation of the private respondents in their Answers that they do not owe that much is sufficient and does not necessitate a reply to the admission. To this we disagree. The request for admission pertains to promissory notes while the allegation quoted by the appellate court simply refers to the amount allegedly owed by the respondents, not to the promissory notes which in the first place were not mentioned in the Complaint of petitioners.

However, we find no cogent reason to deviate from the observations of the Court of Appeals that the request for admission regarding the alleged promissory notes is defective for failure of petitioners to attach copies of said notes to the request for admission; and that private respondents were not previously furnished copies of the same. Petitioner failed to comply with the requirements under Section 1 of Rule 26 which provides that a party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission by the latter of the genuineness of any material and relevant document described in and exhibited with the request; and that copies of the documents should be delivered with the request unless copies have already been furnished. Except for the bare allegation of the petitioners that they also furnished private respondents said promissory notes, their requests do not show that there was indeed such previous or simultaneous service of the said documents on the petitioners.

Also improper is the admission sought with respect to the demand letters. Respondent already denied receipt of the same in their Answer. 


2. There was no valid service. Records show that only the counsel of the respondents, Atty. H.G. Domingo, Jr. was furnished copies of the requests. This is not sufficient compliance with the Rules."

The general rule as provided for under Section 2 of Rule 27 (now Section 2, Rule 13) of the Rules of Court is that all notices must be served upon counsel and not upon the party. This is so because the attorney of a party is the agent of the party and is the one responsible for the conduct of the case in all its procedural aspects; hence, notice to counsel is notice to party. The purpose of the rule is obviously to maintain a uniform procedure calculated to place in competent hands the orderly prosecution of a partys case. However, the general rule cannot apply where the law expressly provides that notice must be served upon a definite person. In such cases, service must be made directly upon the person mentioned in the law and upon no other in order that the notice be valid. 

Section 1 of Rule 26 provides that the request for admission should be served on the party to whom the request is directed. Hence, the request for admission made by Duque was not validly served and therefore, Spouses Bonifacio cannot be deemed to have admitted the truth of the matters upon which admissions were requested. Thus, the summary judgment rendered by the RTC has no legal basis to support it. (Duque vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125383, July 2, 2002)

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