What's judicial notice? Universal notoriety rule

Judicial notice is the cognizance of certain facts that judges may properly take and act on without proof because these facts are already known to them. Put differently, it is the assumption by a court of a fact without need of further traditional evidentiary support. The principle is based on convenience and expediency in securing and introducing evidence on matters which are not ordinarily capable of dispute and are not bona fide disputed.

A court shall take judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial extent of states, their political history, forms of government and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political constitution and history of the Philippines, the official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the geographical divisions.

The doctrine of judicial notice rests on the wisdom and discretion of the courts. The power to take judicial notice is to be exercised by courts with caution; care must be taken that the requisite notoriety exists; and every reasonable doubt on the subject should be promptly resolved in the negative.

Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three material requisites: (1) the matter must be one of common and general knowledge; (2) it must be well and authoritatively settled and not doubtful or uncertain; and (3) it must be known to be within the limits of the jurisdiction of the court. The principal guide in determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially known is that of notoriety. Hence, it can be said that judicial notice is limited to facts evidenced by public records and facts of general notoriety.
To say that a court will take judicial notice of a fact is merely another way of saying that the usual form of evidence will be dispensed with if knowledge of the fact can be otherwise acquired. This is because the court assumes that the matter is so notorious that it will not be disputed. But judicial notice is not judicial knowledge. The mere personal knowledge of the judge is not the judicial knowledge of the court, and he is not authorized to make his individual knowledge of a fact, not generally or professionally known, the basis of his action. Judicial cognizance is taken only of those matters which are "commonly" known.

Things of "common knowledge," of which courts take judicial notice, may be matters coming to the knowledge of men generally in the course of the ordinary experiences of life, or they may be matters which are generally accepted by mankind as true and are capable of ready and unquestioned demonstration. Thus, facts which are universally known, and which may be found in encyclopedias, dictionaries or other publications, are judicially noticed, provided they are of such universal notoriety and so generally understood that they may be regarded as forming part of the common knowledge of every person. (G.R. No. 221732. August 23, 2017)

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