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The Adverse Consequences Of Non-Appearance At The Pre-Trial

The pre-trial provides an opportunity for both the defendant and the plaintiff to air both sides. However, if the defendant fails to appear, the plaintiff is given a chance to present evidence, which will serve as the court's basis for rendering judgment. The non-appearance of the defendant without valid cause increases the likelihood that the court will decide in favor of the plaintiff. It also has other serious consequences:

Section 4.  Appearance of parties. −  It shall be the duty of the parties and their counsel to appear at the pre-trial. The non-appearance of a party may be excused only if a valid cause is shown therefor, or if a representative shall appear in his behalf fully authorized in writing to enter into an amicable settlement, to submit to alternative modes of dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents.   

Section 5. Effect of failure to appear. − The failure of the plaintiff to appear when so required pursuant to the next preceding section shall be cause for dismissal of the action. The dismissal shall be with prejudice, unless otherwise ordered by the court.  A similar failure on the part of the defendant shall be cause to allow the plaintiff to present his evidence ex parte and the court to render judgment on the basis thereof.

Pre-trial is an essential part of the legal process because it seeks to achieve the following: 

(a) The possibility of an amicable settlement or of a submission to alternative modes of dispute resolution;

(b) The simplification of the issues;

(c) The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;

(d) The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents to avoid unnecessary proof;

(e) The limitation of the number of witnesses;

(f) The advisability of a preliminary reference of issues to a commissioner;

(g) The propriety of rendering judgment on the pleadings, or summary judgment, or of dismissing the action should a valid ground therefor be found to exist;

(h) The advisability or necessity of suspending the proceedings; and

(i) Such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the action.

Can You Use Chat Messages As Evidence?

Chat messages or text messages are often used as evidence in court. However, presenting these electronic evidences has to meet  the following requirements stipulated on Republic Act No. 8792 otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000. 



SECTION 1. Electronic documents as functional equivalent of paper-based documents. – Whenever a rule of evidence refers to the term of writing, document, record, instrument, memorandum or any other form of writing, such term shall be deemed to include an electronic document as defined in these Rules. 

SEC. 2. Admissibility. – An electronic document is admissible in evidence if it complies with the rules on admissibility prescribed by the Rules of Court and related laws and is authenticated in the manner prescribed by these Rules. 

SEC. 3. Privileged communication. – The confidential character of a privileged communications is not solely on the ground that it is in the form of an electronic document.  



SECTION 1. Original of an electronic document. – An electronic document shall be regarded as the equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Rule if it is a printout or output readable by sight or other means, shown to reflect the data accurately. 

SEC. 2. Copies as equivalent of the originals. – When a document is in two or more copies executed at or about the same time with identical contents, or is a counterpart produced by the same impression as the original, or from the same matrix, or by mechanical or electronic re-recording, or by chemical reproduction, or by other equivalent techniques which is accurately reproduces the original, such copies or duplicates shall be regarded as the equivalent of the original. 

Notwithstanding the foregoing, copies or duplicates shall not be admissible to the same extent as the original if: 

(a) a genuine question is raised as to the authenticity of the original; or 

(b) in the circumstances it would be unjust or inequitable to admit a copy in lieu of the original.   



SECTION 1. Burden of proving authenticity. – The person seeking to introduce an electronic document in any legal proceeding has the burden of proving its authenticity in the manner provided in this Rule. 

SEC. 2. Manner of authentication. – Before any private electronic document offered as authentic is received in evidence, its authenticity must be proved by any of the following means: 

(a) by evidence that it had been digitally signed by the person purported to have signed the same; 

(b) by evidence that other appropriate security procedures or devices as may be authorized by the Supreme Court or by law for authentication of electronic documents were applied to the document; or 

(c) by other evidence showing its integrity and reliability to the satisfaction of the judge. 

SEC. 3. Proof of electronically notarized document. - A document electronically notarized in accordance with the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court shall be considered as a public document and proved as a notarial document under the Rules of Court.      



SECTION 1. Electronic signature. – An electronic signature or a digital signature authenticate din the manner prescribed hereunder is admissible in evidence as the functional equivalent of the signature of a person on a written document. 

SEC. 2. Authentication of electronic signatures. – An electronic signature may be authenticate in any of the following manner: 

(a) By evidence that a method or process was utilized to establish a digital signature and verity the same; 

(b) By any other means provided by law; or 

(c) By any other means satisfactory to the judge as establishing the genuineness of the electronic signature. 

SEC. 3. Disputable presumptions relation to electronic signature. – Upon the authentication of an electronic signature, it shall be presumed that: 

(a) The electronic signature is that of the person to whom it correlates; 

(b) The electronic signature was affixed by that person with the intention of authenticating or approving the electronic document to which it is related or to indicate such person’s consent to the transaction embodied therein; and 

(c) The methods or processes utilized to affix or verity the electronic signature operated without error or fault. 

SEC. 4. Disputable presumptions relating to digital signatures. – Upon the authentication of a digital signature, it shall be presumed, in addition to those mentioned in the immediately preceding section, that: 

(a) The information contained in a certificate is correct; 

(b) The digital signature was created during the operational period of a certificate; 

(c) The message associated with a digital signature has not been altered from the time it was signed; and 

(d) A certificate had been issued by the certification authority indicated therein 



SECTION 1. Factors for assessing evidentiary weight. - In assessing the evidentiary weight of an electronic document, the following factors may be considered: 

(a) The reliability of the manner or method in which it was generated, stored or communicated, including but not limited to input and output procedures, controls, tests and checks for accuracy and reliability of the electronic data message or document, in the light of all the circumstances as well as any relevant agreement; 

(b) The reliability of the manner in which its originator was identified; 

(c) The integrity of the information and communication system in which it is recorded or stored, including but not limited to the hardware and computer programs or software used as well as programming errors; 

(d) The familiarity of the witness or the person who made the entry with the communication and information system; 

(e) The nature and quality of the information which went into the communication and information system upon which the electronic data message or electronic document was based; or 

(f) Other factors which the court may consider as affecting the accuracy or integrity of the electronic document or electronic data message. 

SEC. 2. Integrity of an information and communication system. – In any dispute involving the integrity of the information and communication system in which an electronic document or electronic data message is recorded or stored, the court may consider, among others, the following factors: 

(a) Whether the information and communication system or other similar device was operated in a manner that did not affect the integrity of the electronic document, and there are no other reasonable grounds to doubt the integrity of the information and communication system; 

(b) Whether the electronic document was recorded or stored by a party to the proceedings with interest adverse to that of the party using it; or 

(c) Whether the electronic document was recorded or stored in the usual and ordinary course of business by a person who is not a party tot he proceedings and who did not act under the control of the party using it.