New law to expand jurisdiction of first-level courts

On 30 July 2021, the President signed into law Republic Act No. 11576 (“RA 11576”) to amend Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 or the “Judiciary Reorganization Act” (“BP 129”), as amended, the core piece of Philippine legislation that guides litigants in determining in which between the Regional Trial Courts (“RTC”) or the Metropolitan Trial Courts/Municipal Trial Courts in Cities/Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts (collectively, the “MTC”) to file their cases.

Particularly, RA 11576 adjusts the threshold values for civil cases that should be heard by the MTCs:

Once the jurisdictional value of a potential case breaches the appropriate threshold provided under RA 11576, then the case should be filed before the RTC and not the MTC. Exceptionally, unlawful detainer or forcible entry cases, which cover cases where a lessor intends to judicially evict a delinquent lessee and despite being an action concerning possession over real property, will always be cognizable by the MTCs regardless of the assessed value of the property involved.

The Supreme Court was likewise granted the authority to adjust the aforementioned thresholds. Keeping updated with the changes in the threshold in determining the jurisdiction of courts is advised, as filing a civil case before a court without jurisdiction over the amounts involved is grounds for outright dismissal.