The Supreme Court has ordered judges of first level courts not to collect the P500 mediation fees anymore in small claims cases.
Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez disclosed that the deletion of the mediation fee was approved last month by the SC en banc following the recommendation made by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, who is the chairperson of the Special Committee on Small Claims Cases who took the issue with the full court.
“Pursuant to the July 9, 2019 resolution of the Court en banc and upon the recommendation of Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, payment of mediation fees in small claims cases shall no longer be required effective September 2, 2019,” Marquez said in a circular dated Aug. 20.
“Any prior circular from the Office of the Court Administrator on this matter which is contrary to the foregoing is hereby superseded,” the Court administrator added.
In his recommendation, Peralta said that the removal of the mediation fees will help ease the financial burden for litigants in small claims cases filed before the metropolitan trial courts, metropolitan trial courts in cities and municipal circuit trial courts.
Under the rule, these courts are mandated to resolve small claims cases within a month from the filing of the claim.
Last April, the SC has increased the limit of small claims cases that can be filed before the first level courts from P300, 000 to P400, 000, effective April 1.
The SC said then that “the initiative was to streamline and harmonize the rules of procedure for money claims filed before all first level courts.
“The reform also decreases cost on the part of the claimant by approximately 20 percent, since attorney’s fees are no longer necessary given that lawyers are not allowed to represent a party in small claims cases,” the high court pointed out.
Before the concept of small claims was introduced in the courts, the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure applied to money claims not exceeding P100,000 in first level courts outside Metro Manila, while P200,000 in first level courts within Metro Manila, otherwise known as the metropolitan trial courts.
These amounts were later increased to P300,000 and P400,000, respectively, under Republic Act No. 7691 or an Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts.
In 2010, the SC authorized the implementation of the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases to all first level courts nationwide for money claims of not more than P100,000.