Notes on venue and jurisdiction

Here are notes on the law and rules on venue and jurisdiction. These are topics under the remedial-law subject civil procedure.

Let's start with a definition of "venue."

Venue is the place where the action is triable, whether real or personal. It relates to the place of trial. It touches more of convenience of the parties rather than the substance of the case. It is procedural and not substantive.

Let's differentiate venue and jurisdiction.

Venue is the locality or place where the suit may be had. It relates to jurisdiction over the person rather than subject matter. Provisions relating to venue establish a relation between plaintiff and defendant.

Jurisdiction, on the other hand, is the power of the court to decide the case on the merits. Provisions on jurisdiction establish a relation between the court and the subject matter.

A court cannot motu proprio dismiss a complaint on the ground of improper venue since improper venue may be waived for failure to object to it.

Venue of Real Actions (Rule 4, Sec. 1): The venue of real actions is the court which has jurisdiction over area where property or any part thereof is located.

What are real actions? They are actions affecting title to property, or where plaintiff seeks recovery of real property, or one affecting title to real property.

Let's enumerate some examples of real actions:

[1] Recovery of possession
[2] Partition or condemnation
[3] Foreclosure of mortgage
[4] Annulment or rescission of sale of real property (actually for recovery)

Forcible entry and detainer are real actions, regardless of amount of damages involved. Note, however, that venue may be changed and transferred to another place by agreement of the parties, and such agreement is valid and enforceable. (Villanueva vs. Mosqueda)

Venue of Personal Actions (Rule 4, Sec. 2): Personal actions are filed in the place where plaintiff or any of principal plaintiffs reside, or where defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non-resident defendant, where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.

What is the meaning of "residence' under the Rules?

"Residence," under the Rules, means actual residence or place of abode, which may not necessarily be his legal residence or domicile, provided he resides therein with continuity and consistency. It must be more than temporary.

What are personal actions?

Personal actions are those where a plaintiff seeks the recovery of personal property, enforcement of contract or recovery of damages.
What is the venue of actions against non-residents?

What is the venue of actions against nonresident defendant who is not found in the Philippines? (Rule 4, Sec. 3) If action affects the personal status of the plaintiff, such as a legal personal relationship which is not temporary nor terminable at the mere will of the parties (annulment of marriage, recognition of a natural child), the venue is the court of place where the plaintiff resides.

QUASI-IN REM: While the court acquires jurisdiction over person of defendant, it does not preclude the court from rendering valid judgment over the issue regarding the personal status of plaintiff in relation to defendant. This is an action quasi in rem.

If action affects any PROPERTY of defendant located in the Philippines – venue is the court in the area where PROPERTY or portion thereof is SITUATED.

IN REM: While court acquires no jurisdiction over person of defendant, valid judgment may be rendered against the property which is the one impleaded and is the subject of judicial power (ex. where plaintiff is already in possession of a lien sought to be enforced or by attachment of the property). This is an action in rem.

In what circumstances do the Rules on Venue not apply?

The Rules on Venue do not apply where a specific rule or law provides otherwise.

For example, an offended party who is at the same time a public official can only institute an action for damages arising from libel in two venues:

[1] the place where he holds office (if private individual, where he resided at the time of the commission of the offense) and
[2] the place where the alleged libelous articles were printed and first published. Note that this rule likewise applies to the criminal case.

Unless and until the defendant objects to the venue in a motion to dismiss prior to a responsive pleading, venue cannot truly be said to have been improperly laid.

A motion to dismiss belatedly filed could no longer deprive the trial court of jurisdiction to hear and decide the civil action for damages. Improper venue may be waived and such waiver may occur by laches.

Objections to venue in such actions may be waived as it does not relate to jurisdiction over the subject matter but rather over the person. Laying of venue is procedural and not substantive. (Diaz vs. Adiong, 1993)

A court cannot motu proprio dismiss a complaint on the ground of improper venue since improper venue may be waived for failure to object to it.