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Rivera vs. Del Rosario Case Digest


The filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the prescribed docket fee vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action. If the amount of docket fees paid is insufficient considering the amount of the claim, the clerk of court of the lower court involved or his duly authorized deputy has the responsibility of making a deficiency assessment. The party filing the case will be required to pay the deficiency, but jurisdiction is not automatically lost.

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Facts: 

Respondents filed a complaint for nullity of contract of sale and annulment of the transfer certificates of title against petitioners. The RTC ruled in favor of respondents. The CA affirmed with modification the RTC decision. Hence, petitioners filed a petition for review on certiorari before the SC.

Petitioners contend, among others, that jurisdiction was not validly acquired because the filing fees respondents paid was only P1,554.45 when the relief sought was reconveyance of land that was worth P2,141,622.50 under the Kasunduan. They contend that respondents should have paid filing fees amounting to P12,183.70. In support of their argument, petitioners invoke the doctrine in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., v. Asuncion and attach a certification from the Clerk of Court of the RTC of Quezon City.

Respondents counter that it is beyond dispute that they paid the correct amount of docket fees when they filed the complaint. If the assessment was inadequate, they could not be faulted because the clerk of court made no notice of demand or reassessment, respondents argue. Respondents also add that since petitioners failed to contest the alleged underpayment of docket fees in the lower court, they cannot raise the same on appeal.


Issue:

Did the trial court acquire jurisdiction over the case, despite an alleged deficiency in the amount of filing fees paid by respondents?


Held:

Yes. Jurisdiction was validly acquired over the complaint. In Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., v. Asuncion, this Court ruled that the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the prescribed docket fee vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action. If the amount of docket fees paid is insufficient considering the amount of the claim, the clerk of court of the lower court involved or his duly authorized deputy has the responsibility of making a deficiency assessment. The party filing the case will be required to pay the deficiency, but jurisdiction is not automatically lost.

Here it is beyond dispute that respondents paid the full amount of docket fees as assessed by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 17, where they filed the complaint. If petitioners believed that the assessment was incorrect, they should have questioned it before the trial court. Instead, petitioners belatedly question the alleged underpayment of docket fees through this petition, attempting to support their position with the opinion and certification of the Clerk of Court of another judicial region. Needless to state, such certification has no bearing on the instant case. (Rivera vs. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 144934. January 15, 2004)

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