Jurisdiction over the person/parties

In civil cases and criminal cases, jurisdiction over the person of the parties must be acquired. This is a very legalistic way of saying that the court must be ensured that the parties understand and recognize its powers and realize that the court can act for or against them.In reality, the court can practically proceed with a case without minding whether or not jurisdiction over the person of the defendant, for example, has been acquired. However, it has been a long-standing tradition not only in the Philippines but also in the United States to guarantee that the parties have actually been made to feel some fear and/or reverence for the turning of the cogs of justice through what is called service of summons. Moreover, the constitutional requirement of notice proscribes any situation in which the parties are not informed of a pending case against them.

When a party receives summons from an officer of the court, it is traditionally believed that such party has been made to perceive the seriousness and consequences of the pending legal action and the importance of participating in the court proceedings. At the same time, such party's right to due process is respected.

Jurisdiction over the person of the plaintiff in civil cases is acquired by his/her filing of the complaint in court. The act of filing an action in court in and by itself indicates recognition of the court's legal power.

On the other hand, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant in civil cases is acquired by proper and valid service of summons or by voluntary appearance. Speaking in general terms, the Supreme Court has held: "Jurisdiction over the persons of the parties is acquired by their voluntary appearance in court and their submission to its authority, or by the coercive power of legal process exerted over their persons."[1][2]

In criminal cases, jurisdiction over the person of an accused is acquired upon either his apprehension, with or without warrant, or his submission to the jurisdiction of the court.[3]

[1] Banco EspaƱol Filipino v. Palanca, 37 Phil. 921.

[2] Perkins v. Dizon 69 Phil. 189.

[3] Infante v. Toledo, 44 Phil. 834; Nilo v. Romero, L-15195, March 29, 1961.