MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday announced an increase in the amount covered in so-called small claims cases filed before the Metropolitan Trial Courts from PHP300,000 to PHP400,000, starting April 1.

In a statement, the SC said that the measure was made upon the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator to Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, chairperson of the Special Committee on Small Claims Cases, which is aimed at improving the efficiency of money claims cases in the country.

In 2010, the Court authorized the implementation of the Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases in all first level courts nationwide for money claims of not more than PHP100,000. In 2015, the SC increased this to PHP200,000 and to PHP300,000 in 2018.

Peralta said this move by the Court “will result in the speedier and more efficient resolution of money claims cases, as well as help increase the country’s score in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report.”

In the World Bank’s 2019 Report, the Philippines ranked 124th out of 190 countries, dropping from its 2018 ranking of 113. This score is based on a number of indicators, one of which involves measuring the time and cost of resolving commercial disputes before the Metropolitan Trial Court in Quezon City for claims amounting to 200 percent of the Philippine’s income per capita, or PHP337,331.

Under the Revised Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases, courts are mandated to resolve a case within 30 days from the day the statement of claim was filed.

Peralta added that “the increase is in accord with the four-point agenda of Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin for the judiciary, to make our rules more efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of the court users.”

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez also expressed optimism that “the move initiated by the Supreme Court will benefit small entrepreneurs using the court system and result in an increase in the country’s ranking in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business survey.” He thanked the Supreme Court for it strong support to Ease of Doing Business reforms.

The SC’s swift action to increase the threshold for small claims in the Metropolitan Trial Courts in Metro Manila will significantly reduce the number of days for trial and judgment under the DB Enforcing Contracts indicator.”

Lopez said this reform is one of the initiatives of the government to promote the Ease of Doing Business.

"The DTI is optimistic that the strong partnership between the Executive and Judicial branches of government will bring positive results. We look forward to working with the Supreme Court to improve the quality of judicial processes index, particularly in the area of court automation and case management,” Lopez said in a separate statement. (PNA)