Liberality & Courts of Equity
Our courts are not only courts of law, but are also courts of equity. Equity is justice outside legal provisions, and must be exercised in the absence of law, not against it. In Reyes v. Lim: Equity jurisdiction aims to do complete justice in cases where a court of law is unable to adapt its judgments to the special circumstances of a case because of the inflexibility of its statutory or legal jurisdiction. Equity is the principle by which substantial justice may be attained in cases where the prescribed or customary forms of ordinary law are inadequate.
Liberality lies within the bounded discretion of a court to allow an equitable result when the proven circumstances require it. Liberality acknowledges a lacuna in the text of a provision of law. This may be because those who promulgated the rule may not have foreseen the unique circumstances of a case at bar. Human foresight as laws and rules are prepared is powerful, but not perfect. Liberality is not an end in itself. Otherwise, it becomes a backdoor disguising the arbitrariness or despotism of judges and justices. In North Bulacan Corp. v. PBCom, the Regional Trial Court ignored several procedural rules violated by the petitioning corporation and allowed rehabilitation in the guise of liberality. This court found that the Regional Trial Court grossly abused its authority when it allowed rehabilitation despite the corporation’s blatant non-compliance with the rules. (G.R. No. 177382; February 17, 2016)