An end to voluminous court documents? | Inquirer Business

An end to voluminous court documents? | Inquirer Business

Point of Law

An end to voluminous court documents?

By: Francis Lim

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:43 pm | Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

In an effort to reduce the judicial and legal systems’ impact on the environment, and make better use of scarce court time, the Supreme Court’s subcommittee on the revision of rules of civil procedure approved the Rule for the Efficient Use of Paper and Court Time (Proposed Rule).

The Proposed Rule, which is part of the reform agenda of the Corona Court, will apply to all courts and quasi-judicial bodies.

Efficient use of paper

The report of the subcommittee notes that about 20 trees are cut and 100,000 liters of water, which cannot be reused as it is laden with chemicals, are used per 500 reams of paper.

To achieve the goal of helping save the environment, the Proposed Rule limits the number of pages and copies as well as imposes the format, style and margins for all court-bound papers.

Each court-bound paper should be written on a 13-inch by 8.5-inch white bond paper, in single space, font size 13 or 14, in a font style of the parties’ choice with all its pages numbered. The margin to be maintained by the parties should be a left hand margin of 1.5 inches from the edge, an upper margin of 1.2 inches from the edge, a right hand margin of 1 inch from the edge, and a lower margin of 1 inch from the edge.

If the parties use a paper of sufficient thickness, they have the option of using both sides of the paper, this time observing a margin of 1.5 inches from the edge of both left and right sides. Failure to comply with any of these would merit a carbon penalty of P1,000.

In addition, from the seven and 18 copies of court-bound papers that are currently filed with the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, respectively, the number will be reduced to one original and two copies in the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals, and one original and four copies in the Supreme Court. In other courts and quasi-judicial agencies, only one original will be required.

Annexes will be required to be attached only to the original and one copy in each case. Also, a party will no longer be required to attach all annexes when serving a copy to adverse parties when it can be presumed from the circumstances that such party already has them.

Efficient use of court time

To save on both paper and court time, the Proposed Rule also set

s a limit of 20 pages, including the signature page, for each court-bound paper. The parties may add up to 10 pages of end notes containing citations and authorities.

Compliance with these page restrictions is enforced by way of a carbon penalty and court time charge in the combined amount of P10,000 for every page that exceeds the limits in the Supreme Court; P5,000 in the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and the Court of Tax Appeals; and P3,000 in the various trial courts and quasi-judicial bodies.

Any court-bound paper submitted without the payment of penalty and charges will be deemed not filed and will be stricken off the record.


The objectives of the Proposed Rule are laudable. Lawyers these days, on account perhaps of the ease with which research is done through the Internet, have become more verbose in their court submissions than their predecessors. As a result, our courts have virtually become warehouses for tons of documents and one has only to walk though court corridors to realize that they have also become fire hazards.

The Proposed Rule will force lawyers to analyze voluminous materials and distinguish the “essential” from the “non-essential,” instead of merely quoting an amalgamation of cases and doctrines and dumping them on the lap of the court. In the words of the subcommittee, “lawyers should learn how to make their pleadings and papers terse and direct and pruning them of irrelevant and often repetitious statements of facts, issues and arguments.”

Hopefully, we will soon see the end of voluminous court papers and, in the process, the judicial system and legal profession will help “cut the use of excessive quantities of costly paper, save our forest and mitigate the worsening climate changes that the world is experiencing.”

The Proposed Rule is just one of the many steps that the court has taken to help save Mother Earth. Apart from the Rules on Kalikasan, which are now in place, our e-commerce subcommittee has drafted a proposed rule on electronic filing, which is envisioned to do away with paper filings in our courts. We are also working on the rules on electronic notarization. There are issues—both technical and operational—that have to be resolved before e-filing and e-notarization can be adopted as part of our court system. In the meantime, the Proposed Rule is a step toward the right direction.

(The author, formerly the president and CEO of the Philippine Stock Exchange, is now co-managing partner and head of the corporate and special projects department of Accralaw. He may be contacted at
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