When is there forum shopping?

In the case of Philippine Bank of Communications v. Yeung,[1] the petitioner argued that the respondent is guilty of forum shopping by not disclosing the pendency of the case for nullity of foreclosure sale. The Supreme Court said that petitioner is wrong.

Forum shopping is committed by a party who, having received an adverse judgment in one forum, seeks another opinion in another court, other than by appeal or the special civil action of certiorari. It is the institution of two or more suits in different courts, either simultaneously or successively, in order to ask the courts to rule on the same or related causes and/or to grant the same or substantially the same reliefs.[2]

The test for determining whether a party has violated the rule against forum shopping is whether in the two (or more) cases, there is identity of parties, rights, causes of action, and reliefs sought, or whether the elements of litis pendentia are present. It is also material to determine whether a final judgment in one case, regardless of which party is successful, will amount to res judicata in the other.[3]

Going back to the case of Philippine Bank of Communications v. Yeung,[4] the motion for recall and to revoke the order for a writ of possession filed by the respondent before the trial court and the civil case for nullity of foreclosure sale are poles apart. This is also true with the petition for certiorari before the CA and the nullity case. Thus, even if the writ of possession is cancelled or revoked, as what happened in this case, the respondent will not be prevented from pursuing the nullity of the foreclosure sale, since the ruling of the court in the former does not amount to res judicata in the latter. Similarly, the filing of the petition for certiorari will not affect the pending civil case for nullity because the two actions may proceed independently and without prejudice to the outcome of each case.

Furthermore, there is no identity in the issues, causes of action and reliefs sought between the two cases. The issues in the two cases are totally different, as well as the reliefs prayed for by the respondent. In the motion, the respondent prays for the cancellation of the writ of possession, while in the civil case for nullity, the prayer is for the cancellation of the foreclosure sale itself. The same thing can be said of a petition for certiorari – where the respondent seeks to nullify the proceedings in the trial court on the ground of grave abuse of discretion – and the nullity of the foreclosure sale.

The High Court, therefore, rule that no forum shopping was committed by the respondent.

[1] G.R. No. 179691, December 04, 2013.

[2] Young v. John Keng Seng, 446 Phil. 823, 832 (2003).

[3] Young v. John Keng Seng, 446 Phil. 823, 832 (2003), at 833.

[4] G.R. No. 179691, December 04, 2013.

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