Are you in a constant dilemma where you feel nervous whether or not a person will pay money they owe you? Do you know someone, maybe a friend who is worried whether or not they’ll be paid by a debtor?
Even businesses, say, a sari-sari store, where the store owner is troubled with the high credit that a friend of theirs accumulated and that “friend” is constantly avoiding them just for them not to be made to pay?
Worry not because this can actually be solved through the Small Claims Court. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno imposed the Rule of Procedure for a Small Claims Case. With its name, this allows individuals and businesses to file a case against people or other businesses who owe money from them.
So, if you find yourself in this situation, don’t fret. You can actually make people who owe you money, pay you! The process is simple and it doesn’t require knowledge about specific rules and laws of the Republic, you just have to know what this specific set of rules are and you’re good.
Do you need to hire a lawyer for this?
Surprisingly, you don’t even need a lawyer. However, it would be helpful to have one just in case it gets escalated to a more serious level.
One thing to take note of is that according to the procedure and the Supreme Court (SC), the money to be claimed should not exceed Php200, 000.00 and this was as of the year 2016. That amount should already include penalty fees and interests (if there are any).
What if the money owed is more than that amount?
If the people who owe you money exceeds that specific amount, the plaintiff would need to be settled in regular court. Should the amount be less than that, you can definitely file the case through the Small Claims Court and here’s how you can do that:
How do you file a Small Claims Case in the Philippines?
The procedure is simple and manageable. As a matter of fact, it can be done by yourself without help from any people.
1. Proceed to either one of the following places to file the case you wish to file:
- 1st level court of the city where your debtor lives; or
- 1st level city court of where you reside
What are first level courts?
If you haven’t heard such a term, then by definition, first level courts are the lowest in the hierarchy. Every city or municipality has such a court where anyone can proceed to if they have concerns.
The following are the considered first level courts here in our country:
- Municipal Trial Courts in Cities;
- Municipal Circuit Trial Courts;
- Metropolitan Trial Court; and
- Municipal Trial Court
2. Once you’re in any of those locations, you would have to go to the Office of the Clerk of Court. You’d be asked to fill out the following forms for documentation and record:
- The statement of claim
- Certification of Non-Forum Shopping; and
- Information for Plaintiff
Once that you fill those out, you’d also have to complete a Verified Statement of Claim. This is a document which certifies and verified that all of the information you provided was correct and that your case is not being doubled. Meaning, you’re not filing the same case in any other court.
3. After finishing those, you can now submit the proof of loan. When you lend money to other people, in order to provide proof, you’d need documentation. This is one key in filing a case against people who owe you money. Any of the following should be sufficient:
- Promissory notes
- Bank deposit slips
- Signed contract by the debtors or defendants
- Demand letter with the proof of delivery and/or receipt (latest)
- Affidavits of witnesses
They will be asking you to submit these documentations for proof of your claim. Moreover, this will back-up the case that you are about to file and in order for the case to be effective. Without it, you won’t be able to proceed with the filing. Word of mouth and witnesses aren’t enough proof, you need documentation.
4. The last step is the payment. You’d have to settle a small amount to successfully file the case. Fitz Villafuerte, an entrepreneur, said that a friend of his (a lawyer) said that it’s usually around the price of Php1, 250.00. It could be less than that, it could be more than that. For you to have the exact amount, proceed to any of the first level courts and inquire about it in the Office of the Clerk of Court.
Once you’ve done your part, it’s up to the court and then the case will be assigned to a judge through a raffle.
If they find that there’s truth in the case, the debtors/defendants will be asked to be Summoned or be given Information for the Defendant, Notice of Heating, Response Form, and other documents for the case.
Afterward, the plaintiff will be informed and will also be sent a Notice of Hearing. In that will be the scheduled date and time of the appearance in Court.
While in the Settlement Discussion, the two (2) parties (you and debtor/defendant), will have a chance to settle the case in mediation of the judge.
What if no agreement or settlement is formed?
In the event that no agreement is formed, the case will automatically be moved to court hearing which should occur on the same day. During the hearing in regular court, the judge will now make his or her decision as regards the case.
NOTE: The judge’s decision is FINAL. It’s non-appealable and it imposes immediate executory.
So, if you’re a defendant/debtor, it’s better to settle the case or the agreement in Small Court Claims for it not to move to regular court hearing.
Who knew that this type of law is existent? Who knew that you can actually file a legal case against people who owe money from you? If you think that the person who owes you money is constantly avoiding you; if the person/people/businesses are not being at par with payments, then you should think about filing a case in Small Claims Court about them.
Need help in charging people who owe you money? Are you constantly being dismissed or ignored by the people you lent money to? Fear not because even the Small Claims Court can be of assistance to you.