Prospectivity & Retroactivity of Rules of Procedure

The general rule that statutes are prospective and not retroactive does not ordinarily apply to procedural laws. It has been held that "a retroactive law, in a legal sense, is one which takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under laws, or creates a new obligation and imposes a new duty, or attaches a new disability, in respect of transactions or considerations already past. Hence, remedial statutes or statutes relating to remedies or modes of procedure, which do not create new or take away vested rights, but only operate in furtherance of the remedy or confirmation of rights already existing, do not come within the legal conception of a retroactive law, or the general rule against the retroactive operation of statutes." The general rule against giving statutes retroactive operation whose effect is to impair the obligations of contract or to disturb vested rights does not prevent the application of statutes to proceedings pending at the time of their enactment where they neither create new nor take away vested rights. A new statute which deals with procedure only is presumptively applicable to all actions - those which have accrued or are pending. Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to that extent. The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants' rights may not preclude their retroactive application to pending actions. The retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative of any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected. Nor is the retroactive application of procedural statutes constitutionally objectionable. The reason is that as a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws. It has been held that "a person has no vested right in any particular remedy, and a litigant cannot insist on the application to the trial of his case, whether civil or criminal, of any other than the existing rules of procedure." (G.R. No. 224834; March 15, 2017)

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