Amendment of complaint after 15-day reglementary period

The issue is whether public respondent acted without jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the Order dated January 30, 2003, allowing private respondents amended complaint.

The Supreme Court agrees that public respondent acted without jurisdiction in issuing the assailed Order allowing private respondent to file an amended complaint.

Under the Rules of Court, a party may amend his pleading once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served, or in the case of a reply, at any time within ten (10) days after it is served. At this stage, a party has the absolute right to amend his pleading and may introduce a new cause of action or change in theory. On the other hand, substantial amendments after the answer had been filed may be made only upon leave of court; but such leave may be refused if it appears to the court that the motion was made with intent to delay.
In the present case, however, the motion to file an amended complaint was filed one month after the Order of the trial court dismissing private respondents complaint became final due to the latter's failure to perfect an appeal. As a rule, the aggrieved party must perfect his appeal within the period as provided for by law. The rule is mandatory in character. A party's failure to comply with the law will result in the decision becoming final and executory and, as such, can no longer be modified or reversed. Thus, it is beyond the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered the decision or order to amend or revoke the same after the lapse of the fifteen-day reglementary period to file an appeal. (G.R. No. 157232; December 10, 2007)