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Tropical Homes vs. Villaluz Case Digest


While there are instances when a party may be properly defaulted, these should be the exception rather than the rule, and should be allowed only in clear cases of obstinate refusal or inordinate neglect to comply with the orders of the court. Absent such a showing, a party must be given every reasonable opportunity to present his side and to refute the evidence of the adverse party in deference to due process of law.


Facts: 

Petitioner executed a special power of attorney which expressly authorized its counsel -

To appear for and in its behalf in the above-entitled civil case in all circumstances where its appearance is required and to bind it in all said instances.

Petitioner's counsel presented said power of attorney during the scheduled pre-trial. After reading the same, respondent judge then and there dictated in open court an order declaring petitioner in default for failure to appear at the pre-trial since the power of attorney the petitioner had executed in favor of its counsel did not satisfy the requirements of Sec. 1, Rule 20 of the Rules of Court in that no mention is made therein of the attorney's authority to bind his client during the pre-trial, and ordering the plaintiff therein to present its evidence ex parte.


Issue:

Was the power of attorney executed by the petitioner sufficient?


Held:

Yes.

Although the power of attorney in question does not specifically mention the authority of petitioner's counsel to appear and bind the petitioner at the pre-trial conference, the terms of said power of attorney are comprehensive enough as to include the authority to appear for the petitioner at the pre-trial conference.

Once more, the Court admonishes trial judges against issuing precipitate orders of default as these have the effect of denying a litigant the chance to be heard, and in order to prevent needless litigations in the appellate courts where time is needed for more important or complicated cases. While there are instances when a party may be properly defaulted, these should be the exception rather than the rule, and should be allowed only in clear cases of obstinate refusal or inordinate neglect to comply with the orders of the court. Absent such a showing, a party must be given every reasonable opportunity to present his side and to refute the evidence of the adverse party in deference to due process of law. (Tropical Homes vs. Villaluz, G.R. No. 40628, February 24, 1989)

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