Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Three objectives of Civil Actions

Following are my notes in tonight's first lecture in Remedial Law. You may read more the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court for a thorough understanding of the subject matter.

There are three different objectives of a civil action; TO BIND:

1. a person or IN PERSONAM
2. a thing or IN REM - to bind the "res"; also refers to a status or relationship; to bind the whole world
3. QUASI-IN REM - a particular defendant is named but the purpose is to burden his property; e.g. judicial foreclosure of property

Note: Do not confuse real/personal actions with in rem/in personam actions.

Q: Why is it important to determine if an action is in rem, in personam or quasi-in rem?
A: To determine how the court can acquire jurisdiction over the defendant. In in personam actions, never through publication can the court acquire jurisdiction over the person of the defendant; only through personal service or substituted service of summons.

E.g. X damages car of Y through negligence of latter. Y sues X but latter flies abroad. How can the court acquire jurisdiction over X? Under the circumstances, the court can't acquire jurisdiction over Y because the nature of the action (objective) is in personam. But the remedy is not to dismiss the case (Citizens Surety vs. Herrera, 38 SCRA 369) but to archive the case.

So what is Y's remedy? Y can go after X's properties. How? By attaching such properties. The action becomes quasi-in rem, thus what is important now is jurisdiction over the "res" or the thing. Service of summons by publication while X is abroad may then be allowed, not to acquire jurisdiction over the "res" but to comply with the requirements of due process.

Again, it is very important to determine if the nature of the action is in personam, in rem or quasi-in rem.

Tags: Remedial Law

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