Neypes ruling is fresh but retroactive

Posted by Admin | Posted in Civil Procedure | Posted on 12-01-2010

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The Neypes ruling or the famous “fresh period rule” came out in the case of Domingo Neypes vs. Court Appeals (G.R. No. 141524 Sept. 24, 2005).  It simply meant that when a motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final order is filed and it is denied, the appellant has 15 days from receipt of the order of denial to perfect his appeal.

In recent cases, the Supreme Court applied the Neypes rule retroactively.  Since it affects only procedural law, it was applied to cases prior to its enunciation in 2005.  There being no vested rights in rules of procedure, retroactive application will not violate any vested rights of persons.

In Spouses delos Santos vs. Mangubat (GR No. 149508, October 10, 2007), the notice of judgment and final order were issued in year 2000. In Neypes, although the Supreme Court decision came out in 2005, the lower court decision involved was issued in 1998.  The court concluded that it will “amount to an injustice if not absurdity”,  if the fresh period rule will not be applied.

In Fil-Estate Properties, Inc. vs. Homena-Valencia (G.R. No. 173942, June 25, 2008),  the Court applied Neypes even if the period for appeal had lapsed prior to the the promulgation of the Neypes rule.

The factual milieu in delos Santos is similar to Fil-Estate. In the Fil-estate case, the petitioners filed on May 10, 2000 a Motion for Reconsideration of an RTC decision.  The RTC denied this on July 26.  Petitioners received the order of denial on August 11. They filed a Notice of Appeal on August 11 but the full docket fees were paid only on August 25.  The RTC disallowed the appeal. They argue that their appeal was perfected on time because, applying the Neypes rule, they had until August 26 to perfect their appeal.   The Supreme Court, applying the Neypes ruling retroactively, decided in favor of the petitioners.  With the docket fees fully paid on August 25, the appeal was perfected on the same day, one day before the period to appeal lapses on August 26.

Subsequent cases in which Neypes was applied reveals the purpose to give litigants a fair opportunity to appeal their cases. It would give an appellant ample time to complete the docket fees. This would also give him more time to prepare the arguments, especially when what is required is a petition for review.   If the facts and arguments are well-presented, it would be easy and speedy for the court to decide. More cases decided, more cases off the dockets.