Payment of docket fees

Section 1, Rule 42 of the Rules of Court states the need to pay docket fees, thus:
Section 1. How appeal taken; time for filing. - A party desiring to appeal from a decision of the Regional Trial Court rendered in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction may file a verified petition for review with the Court of Appeals, paying at the same time to the clerk of said court the corresponding docket and other lawful fees, depositing the amount of P500.00 for costs, x x x.
The rule is that payment in full of the docket fees within the prescribed period is mandatory.[1] In Manchester v. Court of Appeals,[2] it was held that a court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fee. The strict application of this rule was, however, relaxed two (2) years after in the case of Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion,[3] wherein the Supreme Court decreed that where the initiatory pleading is not accompanied by the payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within a reasonable period of time, but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. This ruling was made on the premise that the plaintiff had demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules by paying the additional docket fees required.[4] Thus, in the more recent case of United Overseas Bank v. Ros,[5] the High Court explained that where the party does not deliberately intend to defraud the court in payment of docket fees, and manifests its willingness to abide by the rules by paying additional docket fees when required by the court, the liberal doctrine enunciated in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., and not the strict regulations set in Manchester, will apply.

Admittedly, this rule is not without recognized qualifications. The Supreme Court has declared that in appealed cases, failure to pay the appellate court docket fee within the prescribed period warrants only discretionary as opposed to automatic dismissal of the appeal and that the court shall exercise its power to dismiss in accordance with the tenets of justice and fair play, and with great deal of circumspection considering all attendant circumstances.[6]

[1] The Heirs of the late Ruben Reinoso, Sr. v. Court of Appeals, et al., 669 Phil. 272, 280 (2011), citing Pedrosa v. Hill, 327 Phil. 153, 158 (1996).

[2] 233 Phil. 579 (1987).

[3] 252 Phil. 280 (1989).

[4] Sun Insurance Office Ltd., v. Asuncion, supra, at 291.

[5] 556 Phil. 178, 197 (2007).

[6] Julian v. Development Bank of the Philippines and the City Sheriff, 678 Phil. 133, 144 (2011), citing Meatmasters International Corporation v. Lelis Integrated Development Corporation, 492 Phil. 698, 702-703 (2005), citing La Salette College v. Pilotin, 463 Phil. 785, 794 (2003); American Express International, Inc. v. Sison, 591 Phil. 182, 191 (2008), citing Spouses Buenaflor v. Court of Appeals, 400 Phil. 395, 401-402 (2000).

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