Monday, December 17, 2007

Pre trial rule mis-impression

I had the erroneous mis-impression about a rule in pre-trial proceedings.
It is Section 3 of Rule 18 of the rules on civil procedure.
The existing rule is that the notice of pre-trial shall be served on counsel, or on the party who has no counsel. The counsel served with such notice is charged with the duty of notifying the party represented by him.
The sentence in bold is what kept me ignorant.
For such a long time---until just recently---I had the mis-impression that the notice of pre-trial is to be served separately to the party and to the counsel.
I was living in the dark ages.
The new rule is that the notice of pre-trial is served only on the counsel, and not any more on the party.
The counsel now bears the responsibility of informing his client of the pre-trial.
The rule was changed apparently to save on bond paper.
But more important, the rule now adheres to the principle that notice to counsel is notice to party.
I think the old rule was the source of a lot of 'palusot' by some parties, because at times, there are lapses that ensue on account of the requirement of notifying separately the party and the counsel.
Now it is simpler. Notify only the counsel.
However, if the notice of pre-trial is sent to the party, and not to counsel, this kind of service is insufficient and the party and counsel cannot be penalized if the counsel is not able to attend the pre-trial.
And even if there was a previous agreement among counsels of the schedule of the pre-trial, the notice of pre-trial cannot be dispensed with. It still must be served, according to a Supreme Court decision.
So I ought to remember the new (this is actually not new) rule.
Notice of pre-trial is served only to counsel, no longer to both counsel and party.

No comments: