Modes of service of summons

There are four (4) modes of serving summons: [1] personal service; [2] substituted service; [3] constructive service (by publication); and [4] extraterritorial service.

What are the purposes of summons? For actions in personam: [1] To acquire jurisdiction over the person of the defendant; and [2] To give notice to the defendant that an action has been commenced against him. For actions in rem and quasi in rem, it is NOT to acquire jurisdiction over the defendant but mainly to satisfy the constitutional requirement of due process.

Personal service. Rule 14, Sec. 6. Service in person on defendant. Whenever practicable, the summons shall be served by handing a copy thereof to the defendant in person, or, if he refuses to receive and sign for it, by tendering it to him. If there are two (2) or more defendants, each one of them should be served a copy of the summons and the complaint.

Substituted service. Rule 14, Sec. 7. If for justifiable causes, the defendant cannot personally be served with summons within a reasonable time, service may be effected: 1) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant’s residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or 2) by leaving the copies at the defendant’s office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof.

In substituted service, it is immaterial that the defendant does not in fact receive actual notice. This will not affect the validity of the service.

For substituted service to be justified, the following circumstances must be clearly established:

[1] Personal service of summons within a reasonable time was impossible;
[2] Efforts were exerted to locate the party; and
[3] The summons was served upon a person of sufficient age and discretion residing at the party’s residence or upon a competent person in charge of the party’s office or place of business.

Failure to do so would invalidate all subsequent proceedings on jurisdictional grounds.

For substituted service of summons to be available, there must be several attempts by the sheriff to personally serve the summons within a reasonable period [of one month] which eventually resulted in failure to prove impossibility of prompt service. “Several attempts” means at least three (3) tries, preferably on at least two different dates. In addition, the sheriff must cite why such efforts were unsuccessful. It is only then that impossibility of service can be confirmed or accepted.

If diligent efforts were undertaken by the Sheriff to serve summons upon the defendant but he was prevented from effecting such service by the defendant himself, summons shall be deemed properly served and that the court has acquired jurisdiction over the person of the defendant.

Cure of defect in service of summons. Defendant’s filing of a motion for resetting of the hearing of the motion for execution effectively cured the defect of the substituted service of summons. Although the substituted service of summons on defendant is patently defective as the sheriff’s return does not contain any statement with regard to the impossibility of personal service, said defect was cured by his voluntary appearance therein. An appearance in whatever form without expressly objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person, is a submission to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the defendant or respondent.In a proceeding in rem or quasi in rem, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is not a prerequisite to confer jurisdiction on the court provided that the court acquires jurisdiction over the res. Nonetheless, summons must be served upon the defendant not for the purpose of vesting the court with jurisdiction but merely for satisfying the due process requirements. A resident defendant who does not voluntarily appear in court, must be personally served with summons as provided under Section 6, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court.

Constructive service (by publication). Service upon a defendant where his identity is unknown or where his whereabouts are unknown.

Rule 14, Sec. 14. Service upon defendant whose identity or whereabouts are unknown. In any action where the defendant is designated as an unknown owner, or the like, or whenever his whereabouts are unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent inquiry, service may, by leave of court, be effected upon him by publication in a newspaper of general circulation and in such places and for such time as the court may order.

Please remember that when the defendant is a resident of the Philippines, service of summons by publication is allowed in any action, even in actions in personam. Hence, this can be allowed in a suit for collection of sum of money, which is an in personam action.

Service upon residents temporarily outside the Philippines. Rule 14, Sec. 16. Residents temporarily out of the Philippines. When any action is commenced against a defendant who ordinarily resides within the Philippines, but who is temporarily out of it, service may, by leave of court, be also effected out of the Philippines, as under the preceding section.

In any suit against a resident of the Philippines temporarily absent from the country, the defendant may be served by substituted service because he still leaves a definite place of residence where he is bound to return.

In addition, extraterritorial service [by personal service effected out of the Philippines OR by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such places and for such time as the court may order] may be resorted to with leave of court.

Extra-territorial service, when allowed. Rule 14, Sec. 15. Extraterritorial service. Extraterritorial service of summons is allowed where the action is against a non-resident defendant who is not found in the Philippines and the action:

[1] Affects the personal status of plaintiffs;
[2] Relates to or subject of which is property in the Philippines (real or personal) , in which the defendant has claim, lien or interest, actual or contingent; or
[3] In which relief demanded consists wholly, or in part, in excluding the defendant from any interest therein; or
[4] Property of defendant has been attached within the Philippines

To be effective, extraterritorial service of summons must be with leave of court and only through any of the following means:

[1] Personal service;
[2] By publication (and copy of the summons and order of the court must be sent by registered mail to the last known address);
[3] Any other manner which the court may deem sufficient. (Rule 14, Sec. 15).
Important principles re service of summons:

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