Pre-trial simplified - Manila Standard (2023)

Pre-trial simplified - Manila Standard (1)"At this stage, parties explore the possibility of an amicable settlement or a submission to alternative modes of dispute resolution."

Pre-trial is the stage of a court proceeding before the trial. The importance of pre-trial is that it allows the parties to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement or a submission to alternative modes of dispute resolution. It is at this stage that even judges may prompt and initiate compromise discussions between the parties.

The pre-trial stage is also when the issues are simplified by the parties with the guidance of the court before the trial. This will allow the parties to limit the issues to be heard and tried during the trial. It is also at this point when the parties can enter into stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof during the trial.

The admissions and stipulations of the parties are expected to shorten the trial since those facts need not be proven. It is also during pre-trial when the number of witnesses are identified by the parties and they agree to fixed trial dates. The court may at this stage determine the propriety of rendering judgment on the pleadings, or a summary judgment with the effect of dispensing with the trial.


With the benefits of pre-trial, the Rules of Court requires it to be mandatory but must be terminated promptly (Section 2, Rule 18, 2019 Amendments to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure [ARCP]). In the early 1990s, although pre-trial was mandatory, some judges would inquire if the parties were willing to compromise, and if they are not, then the judge will terminate the pre-trial.

This prevalent judicial attitude, at that time prompted the Supreme Court to introduce the detailed process of pre-trial in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which was later enhanced by the 2004 Guidelines on Pre-Trial and Modes of Discovery. The 2019 Amendments to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure in turn captured the process and the practical applications of pre-trial in the courtrooms.

The pre-trial is scheduled by the branch clerk of court within five (5) calendar days from the filing of an Answer by the defendant or the filing of a Reply by the plaintiff if the latter is allowed in accordance with the Rules. The branch clerk of court will then issue a notice of pre-trial which shall be set not later than sixty (60) calendar days from the filing of the Answer or Reply (Section 1, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

The notice of pre-trial shall be served on the counsel, or on the party if he or she has no counsel. The counsel served with the notice is charged with the duty of notifying the party he or she represents (Section 3, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP). Non-appearance at any of the settings shall be deemed as non-appearance at the pre-trial.

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The parties shall file the pre-trial brief with the court and serve the adverse party a copy at least three (3) calendar days before the date of the pre-trial. The pre-trial brief shall contain, among others: (a) a summary of admitted facts and proposed stipulation of facts; (b) the main factual and legal issues; (c) the documents or other object evidence to be marked; and (d) the names of the witnesses, and the summary of their testimonies. The failure to file the pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre-trial (Section 6, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

The non-appearance of a party and counsel during the pre-trial may be excused only for acts of God, force majeure, or duly substantiated physical inability. A representative may appear on behalf of a party, but must be fully authorized in writing to enter into an amicable settlement, to submit to alternative modes of dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or admissions of facts and documents (Section 4, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

The failure of the plaintiff and counsel to appear without valid reason shall cause the dismissal of the action. The dismissal shall be with prejudice, which means the dismissed case cannot be refiled. A similar failure on the part of the defendant and counsel shall allow the plaintiff to present his or her evidence ex parte within ten (10) calendar days from the termination of the pre-trial, and thereafter the court may render judgment (Section 5, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

Additionally, the party or counsel who fails to appear for pre-trial despite notice shall waive any objections to the faithfulness of the reproductions marked, as well as to their genuineness and due execution. If the party and/or counsel fails to bring the evidence required for the pre-trial though he is present, he shall be deemed to have waived the presentation of such evidence (Section 2 (h), Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

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During the pre-trial, the parties are required to: (a) mark their respective evidence if not yet marked in the judicial affidavits of their witnesses; (b) examine and make comparisons of the adverse parties’ evidence with the copies to be marked; and (c) manifest for the record, in open court, stipulations on the faithfulness of the reproductions and the genuineness and due execution of the adverse parties’ evidence (Section 2 (g) 1 to 3, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

The introduction in the amended provision of the process of marking the documents and their comparison with the originals reinforced the desire to capture the incident inside the courtroom. However, the testimonial evidence and documents may not always be available at the pre-trial. Hence, the parties are allowed to reserve its presentation during trial, subject to certain conditions.

This is done for testimonial evidence by giving the name and position of the prosposed witness, as well as the nature of the testimony. For documentary evidence and other object evidence, it is done by giving a particular description of the evidence. No reservations will be allowed if these are not made in that manner (Section 2 (g) 4, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP). Parties cannot delay the proceedings by not being ready for the pre-trial or reserving evidence based on speculation.

Upon termination of the pre-trial, the court shall issue an order within ten (10) calendar days, reciting in detail the matters taken up therein. The contents of the pre-trial order shall control the subsequent proceedings, unless modified before trial (Section 7, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP). In simpler words, the pre-trial order will set the parameters for the trial.

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After the pre-trial, the court shall refer the parties for mandatory court-annexed mediation. The period for the court-annexed mediation shall not exceed thirty (30) calendar days with no further extension (Section 8, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP) If the mediation is unsuccessful and only if the judge of the court to which the case was originally raffled is convinced that settlement is still possible, the case may be referred to another court for judicial dispute resolution (JDR) (Section 9, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

The JDR shall be conducted within a non-extendible period of 15 calendar days from notice of failure of the court-annexed mediation. If judicial dispute resolution fails, trial before the original court shall proceed on the dates agreed upon during pre-trial. All proceedings during the court-annexed mediation and the judicial dispute resolution shall be confidential (Section 9, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP).

If there are no more controverted facts, no more genuine issues as to any material fact, an absence of any issue, or a failure of an answer to tender an issue, the court shall motu proprio include in the pre-trial order that the case be submitted for summary judgment or judgment on the pleadings, without the need of position papers or memoranda (Section 10, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP). It only means that there are no disputed or controverted factual matters to be tried.

This is a special feature of the 2019 Amendment to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. This is because if the conditions are present, it is possible for the case not to proceed to trial. In such an event, judgment shall be rendered within ninety (90) calendar days from the termination of the pre-trial (Section 10, Rule 18, 2019 ARCP). The order of the court to submit the case for judgment shall not be appealed or reviewed by certiorari.

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The Rules of Court can always be revisited and revised by the Supreme Court to adapt to the changing needs of the judicial system. However, judges as the frontliners in the administration of justice must see to it that the Rules of Court are faithfully observed by the parties, and that the parties and their counsels respect and comply with the orders and processes of our courts.

Tags: Amendments to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedurepre-trialTranquil G.S. Salvador III


How long between pre-trial and trial in Philippines? ›

Thereafter, where a plea of not guilty is entered, the accused shall have at least fifteen (15) days to prepare for trial which shall commence within thirty (30) days from receipt of the pre-trial order. SEC. 7.

What happens after pre-trial Philippines? ›

Upon termination of the pre-trial, the court shall issue an order within ten (10) calendar days, reciting in detail the matters taken up therein.

What happens in pre-trial conference Philippines? ›

Under the Revised Rules, the following shall be done during the pre-trial hearing: marking of evidence, comparison of original evidence vis-à-vis copies, stipulations regarding the faithfulness of the reproductions and the genuineness and due execution of the adverse parties' evidence, reservation of testimonial ...

What happens if the defendant fails to appear in court Philippines? ›

If he fails to appear after formal summons, defendant shall be declared in default. After the hearing, both parties shall be informed of the judgment, which shall be noted in the corresponding docket together with the claim, defense and all the proceedings had thereon.

How long does a criminal case take in the Philippines? ›

The revised rules on continuous trial became effective in 2017. It requires that arraignment and pre-trial be done within 10 days for detainees, and within 30 days for non-detainees. Trial proper should last only for 180 days, while the judgment should be promulgated within 90 days of terminating the trial.

What are the grounds for motion to dismiss in criminal cases in the Philippines? ›

The present rules allow the filing of a Motion to Dismiss on the basis of (a) lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant; (b) lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter; (c) improper venue; (d) lack of capacity to sue; (e) pendency of action between the same parties for the same cause; (f) cause of action ...

Can trial proceed without the presence of the accused in Philippines? ›

The arraignment and pre-trial conference shall be simultaneously held. The court shall proceed with the pre-trial despite absence of the accused and/or private complainant, provided they were duly notified, and accused's counsel and public prosecutor are present.

What happens if the complainant does not appear in court Philippines? ›


If the complainant fails to attend, the prosecution will normally apply for an adjournment - in other words, apply for the hearing to be relisted on a future date.

What is the greatest factor that can delay the resolution of cases in the Philippine courts? ›

The first factor that comes to mind is the backlog of cases in the judicial system. The Philippines has a high number of pending cases, which can lead to significant delays in the resolution of cases. 2. Another factor is the lack of resources, such as funding and personnel, in the judicial system.

What is the meaning of pre-trial? ›

Pretrial, also called pretrial conference or pretrial review, is a hearing prior to trial, which all parties involved in the trial attempt to determine the issues, laws, or facts matter, before the court trial.

What is plea bargaining Philippines? ›

Plea bargaining in criminal cases is a process whereby the accused. and the prosecution work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of. the case subject to court approval.

What is a major purpose of pretrial conferences? ›

The primary purpose of a pretrial conference is to clarify any legal issues and administrative procedures that if taken care of before the beginning of a trial, can expedite the judicial process.

What is the most likely outcome in a civil case if the defendant fails to answer the complaint? ›

A Defendant generally must serve an answer within 21 days. If he or she fails to do so, the Plaintiff can get a default judgment and collect on it. A Defendant has some ability to vacate a default judgment, but must have a good excuse for blowing the deadline.

How long does it take to get a subpoena Philippines? ›

(b) Within ten (10) days after the filing of the complaint, the investigating officer shall either dismiss it if he finds no ground to continue with the investigation, or issue a subpoena to the respondent attaching to it a copy of the complaint and its supporting affidavits and documents.

What is default Judgement in the Philippines? ›

— A party declared in default may at any time after notice thereof and before judgment file a motion under oath to set aside the order of default upon proper showing that his failure to answer was due to fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence and that he has a meritorious defense.

How long is a trial in court Philippines? ›

In no case shall the entire trial period exceed one hundred eighty (180) days from the first day of trial, except as otherwise authorized by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court pursuant to Section 3, Rule 22 of the Rules of Court.

What is the process of court trial in the Philippines? ›

– The trial shall proceed in the following order: (a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in the proper case, the civil liability. (b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense and damages, if any, arising, from the issuance of a provisional remedy in the case.

How long is speedy trial in Philippines? ›

Republic Act No. 8493, also known as the Speedy Trial Act of 1998, establishes the duration for a trial from start to finish. Trials whose penalties do not exceed six months or a P1,000 fine or both should only last 180 days from the first day of trial. The court can extend the trial, given a compelling reason.

What is the time to prepare for trial in Philippines? ›

Thereafter, where a plea of not guilty is entered, the accused shall have at least fifteen (15) days to prepare for trial. Trial shall commence within thirty (30) days from arraignment as fixed by the court.


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