Effect of failure to question improper service of summons

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net



The Manila Times



Dear PAO, I heard that my opponent (X Company) in a civil action will be questioning the service of summons to its supervisor. According to my source, the service is improper. X Company participated during the hearing and never raised the said issue. Is proper service of summons important? Dunggol Dear Dunggol, Service of summons upon corporation is specifically governed by Section 12, Rule 14 of AM 19-10-20-SC (2019 Proposed Amendments to 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure). Under the said provision of the rules, it is stated that: “When the defendant is a corporation, partnership or association organized under the laws of the Philippines with a juridical personality, service may be made on the president, managing partner, general manager, corporate secretary, treasurer, or in-house counsel of the corporation wherever they may be found, or in their absence or unavailability, on their secretaries. “If such service cannot be made upon any of the foregoing persons, it shall be made upon the person who customarily receives the correspondence for the defendant at its principal office. Xxx” It is important to emphasize that service of summons affects the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the respondent company; hence, the same should be served to the proper officers of the private entity or to the person who customarily receives correspondence on its behalf. The service of summons to the supervisor of X Company may be improper. However, the said defective service was rectified because the company participated during the trial without questioning the jurisdiction of the court. This is exactly in consonance with Section 23, Rule 15 of the same rule which states that: “The defendant’s voluntary appearance in the action shall be equivalent to service of summons. The inclusion in a motion to dismiss of other grounds aside from lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant shall be deemed a voluntary appearance.” Further, this finds support in the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in The Philippine Canine Club, Inc. vs. Favila, et al. (GR 232289, Feb. 26, 2020), where it stated, through Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr., that: “Indeed, the active participation of the party against whom the action was brought, coupled with his failure to object to the jurisdiction of the court or administrative body where the action is pending, is tantamount to an invocation of that jurisdiction and a willingness to abide by the resolution of the case and will bar said party from later on impugning the court or body’s jurisdiction.” Applying the above-cited decision in your situation, the active participation of X Company during the hearing of the civil case without objecting or raising the improper service of the summons to its supervisor at the earliest opportunity is tantamount to an invocation of the jurisdiction of the court and a willingness to abide by the resolution of the case. The legal effect of such failure will bar the company from later on impugning the court’s jurisdiction. We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.