|Glossary and Abbreviations|
What is Appellate Court Mediation?
Mediation is the process of resolving disputes with the help of a neutral third party (mediator) to reach a settlement that is mutually acceptable to all parties.
Appellate Court Mediation (ACM) is a mediation program in the Court of Appeals (CA), corollary to Court-Annexed Mediation in the lower courts. It provides a conciliatory approach in conflict resolution. Through ACM, the CA promotes a paradigm shift in resolving disputes from a rights-based (judicial) to an interest-based (mediation) process.
How is Appellate Court Mediation different from Court-Annexed Mediation or Judicial Dispute Resolution?
In Court-Annexed Mediation, a case eligible for mediation at a First Level Court or Regional Trial Court during the pre-trial stage is referred by the presiding judge to the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC) Unit for mediation. Mediation is successful if the parties enter into a Compromise Agreement, and the judge renders a decision based on this agreement. If it fails or the parties refuse to undergo mediation, the case goes back to court for trial.
In Judicial Dispute Resolution under the JURIS Project, the mediation process is also in the lower courts and mediation is conducted just like in Court- Annexed Mediation. If mediation fails or the parties refuse mediation, the case goes back to the judge who does not yet try the case. The judge, acting sequentially as Conciliator, Neutral Evaluator and Mediator or a combination of the three, attempts to convince the parties to settle their case amicably. If the parties still refuse to settle, the case goes back to court for trial.
In Appellate Court Mediation, the case has been tried and judgment has been rendered at the lower courts but has been appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA). Thus, Party A already won the case in the lower courts but Party B appealed the decision to the CA.
What are the benefits of Appellate Court Mediation?
For the judiciary, Appellate Court Mediation, as part of the Supreme Court’s Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR), aims to reduce the congestion of court dockets. A review of pre-ACM court statistics shows that although the disposal rate is high at 98.5 percent, the number of cases added to the backlog grows at an annual rate of 58 percent. Mediation offers a promising solution to lessening this backlog.
For litigants, after mediation has failed in the lower courts, Appellate Court Mediation provides an added option to put an end to costly and long-drawn litigation. Since mediation is a non-adversarial approach to resolving a case in court, it facilitates the interest-based settlement of the dispute through proposals coming from the parties themselves or suggested by the mediator and accepted by the parties.
Mediation helps litigants settle their dispute and rebuild their relationship. It is a win-win solution for both parties.
When and how did implementation of ACM start?
The Supreme Court authorized the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) to pilot-test the mediation program in the Court of Appeals on April 16, 2002. The pilot ACM Project ran for almost three months from September 16 to November 22, 2002, with a success rate of 67 percent.
Thirty-one appellate court mediators from the ranks of retired justices and judges, senior members of the Bar, and senior professors of law participated in the orientation workshop conducted by experts from the Philippines and Singapore.
The Supreme Court approved the institutionalization of Appellate Court Mediation (ACM) on March 23, 2004 following the successful pilot-test. It also approved the Revised Guidelines for the Implementation of Mediation in the Court of Appeals to provide the legal framework.
From 2004 to 2006, PHILJA went on to recruit and train a core of mediation faculty from ADR practitioners and the academe; revised the training curriculum and materials to make them more relevant to the Philippine setting; developed case study materials from actual cases; trained a new batch of 51 mediators for the Court of Appeals; capped their training with an internship program that required each mediator to handle at least two ongoing cases; formally launched the CA Mediation Center at the ground floor of the CA Annex Building; and finally developed a Mediation Training Manual for the Court of Appeals. The Project Director who supervised this project was Professor Alfredo F. Tadiar.
What organizations are helping implement the ACM Program?
There are six institutions working together to implement the mediation process in the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals (CA)
Selects and refers cases and other documents or information for mediation.
Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA)
Oversees the training program of appellate court mediators and assigns a PMC (CA) coordinator to oversee the operations of a PMC (CA) office, among other responsibilities.
Philippine Mediation Center-CA
Helps facilitate successful mediation by providing administrative and operational support services.
Public Information Office of the Supreme Court (SC-PIO)
Assists in the in formation, education and communication campaign program of the project.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
Collaborates with PHILJA in its mediation advocacy and assists in the disciplinary actions for erring mediators.
Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS)
Includes Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) courses (including Mediation) and negotiating skills in the curriculum and re-orients law professors and students on legal aid.
Are all cases elevated to the Court of Appeals eligible for Appellate Court Mediation?
No. Only the following cases elevated to the Court of Appeals are eligible for Appellate Court Mediation:
1. Civil cases brought on ordinary appeal or petition for review.
2. Appeals from final orders, awards, judgments, resolutions of the Court of Tax Appeals and quasi-judicial agencies in the exercise of their quasi-judicial functions through petition for review or certiorari that questions a decision for having been rendered in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.These quasi-judicial agencies include the following: Central Board of Assessment Appeals, Securities and Exchange Commission. Land Registration Authority, Office of the President, Civil Aeronautics Board, Bureau of Patents, Trademarks and Technology Transfer, National Electrification Administration, Energy Regulatory Board, National Telecommunications Commission, Department of Agrarian Reform under TA. 6657, Government Service Insurance System, Employees Compensation Commission, Agricultural Inventions Board, Insurance Commission, Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, Board of Investments, Construction Industry Arbitration Commission, and Voluntary Arbitrators authorized by law.
3. Special civil actions for certiorari, except those involving pure questions of law.
4. Habeas corpus (court order directing law enforcement officials or custodians of detained persons to produce that person in court) cases involving custody of minors, with the consent of the parties, provided that the minor is not detained for commission of a criminal offense.
5. Criminal cases cognizable by the Katarungang Pambarangay (Barangay Justice System) under Republic Act No. 7160 or offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding P5,000.00 or both such fine and imprisonment.
What cases cannot be mediated under ACM?
1. Civil cases, which by law cannot be compromised.
2. Criminal cases except those under No. 4 above (habeas corpus of minors not detained for a criminal offense).
3. Habeas corpus petitions involving custody of minors when the subject is detained for commission of a criminal offense.
4. Cases with pending application for restraining orders/preliminary injunctions, unless both parties request for mediation
Who is qualified to serve as mediator in Appellate Court Mediation?
Only an Appellate Mediator who is trained and accredited by the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) can mediate in the Court of Appeals.
As a basic qualification, he/she must be a retired justice, judge, senior member of the Bar, or senior law professor, who possesses creative problem-solving skills and has strong interest in mediation.
What are the duties and responsibilities of an Appellate Mediator?
Since mediation proceedings are confidential, violations made by either party or even the mediator will be sanctioned.
1. Conducts mediation proceedings and calls caucuses (private meetings with each party) whenever necessary.
2. During mediation proceedings:a. informs parties of the rules and procedures for mediation
b. assesses the risks and costs of continuing litigation
c. draws out the underlying interests of the parties
d. explores common ground for settlement
3. May suggest options for the parties to consider and, if practical or necessary, seek the assistance of a co-mediator to assess (on a nonbinding basis) the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case.
4. May request for a court order to impose appropriate sanctions if the parties fail to comply with the directives of the mediator such as, but not limited to, the payment of mediation fees, appearance of parties during scheduled conferences, and submission of written authority of representatives prior to the mediation proceedings.
5. Prepares the written terms of the compromise agreement that disposes of the dispute in whole or in part.
6. May terminate mediation at any time if parties are not interested to settle.
7. If the parties fail to reach a settlement, returns the case to the CA Division of origin and makes a confidential report to the Philippine Mediation Center-CA on the reasons for failure.
8. Discloses to the parties any circumstance that may create or give the appearance of a conflict of interest and any other circumstance that may raise a question as to his/her impartiality.
9. Ensures strict confidentiality of all communications made by the parties during the mediation proceedings.
What is the process in Appellate Court Mediation?
The entire mediation process in the appellate level consists of five phases: (1)
selection of case, (2) resolution to appear, (3) agreement to mediate, (4)
mediation proceedings, and (5) disposition of case.
Phase 1: Selection of Cases
1. The Division Clerk of Court, with the assistance of the PMC-CA, identifies the pending cases for mediation to be approved by the Ponente (Justice in charge of the case) either for completion of records or for decision.
2. The petitioner or appellant specifies, by writing or by stamping on the right side of the caption of the initial pleading (under the case number), that the case is qualified for mediation.
3. If the case is eligible for mediation, the Ponente, with the concurrence of the other members of the Division, refers the case to the PMC-CA.
Phase 2: Resolution to Appear
1. The Ponente, with the concurrence of other members of the Division, issues a resolution (after submission of the appellant’s brief or after the filing of a petition for review or certiorari) directing the parties to appear at the PMC-CA without counsel to consider the possibility of mediation.
2. The resolution also suspends the running of the period to file the appellee’s brief or comment on the petition for review or certiorari, as the case may be, until further order of the Court.
Phase 3: Agreement to Mediate
1. Upon agreement of the parties to mediate, the PMC-CA requires the parties to execute an Agreement to Mediate in a form provided for the purpose.
2. The parties choose a mediator and the date and time of the initial mediation conference.
3. The Court then furnishes the following documents to the PMC-CA:a. Appellant’s brief and any memorandum or record on appeal
b. Decisions or Orders of the court/tribunal being appealed or subject to certiorari
Phase 4: Mediation Proceedings
1. The mediator tries to complete the mediation proceedings within thirty (30) days from the date of the initial mediation conference. However, the duration of mediation proceedings may be extended for another thirty (30) days if there is a request for extension based on a justifiable ground or reason.
2. Individual party litigants are required to attend mediation conferences in person; corporate parties must be represented by a corporate officer duly authorized by Board resolution.
3. Initial mediation conferences are held in the PMC-CA, but subsequent mediation conferences may be held outside the CA with notice to the Court.
Phase 5: Disposition of Cases
1. If the parties agree to a full or partial compromise, the mediator drafts written terms with the concurrence of the parties/counsel.
2. The parties/counsel and mediator sign the compromise agreement which is transmitted to the Court.
3. The Court approves the compromise agreement, renders judgment upon a full or partial compromise, as the case may be, and makes an immediate entry of judgment.
4. In the case of full settlement, the parties agree to withdraw the appeal and enter into a mutual satisfaction of claims and counterclaims. Upon receipt, the Court renders an order of dismissal.
5. If the parties fail to reach a settlement, the mediator returns the case to the Division of origin. He or she then makes a confidential report to the PMC-CA on the reasons for the failure.
How long does the mediation process take under ACM?
The mediation process ideally takes thirty (30) days from the date of the initial mediation conference. The mediation proceedings may be extended for another period not exceeding an additional thirty (30) days after a motion is filed with the Court.
How much does mediation cost?
Mediation fees in the amount of one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) are collected by the Clerk of Court of the trial court upon filing of the Notice of Appeal or by the Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals for cases that are directly filed therein.
The collected amount becomes part of the Mediation Fund which is utilized for the promotion of court-annexed mediation and other relevant modes of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), training of mediators, payment of mediator’s fees, and the operating expenses of PMC units nationwide.
Who are exempt from paying the mediation fee?
A pauper litigant is exempt from paying the mediation fee. The unpaid amount is a lien to any monetary award in a judgment favorable to the pauper litigant.
The accused-appellant is also exempt from paying the mediation fee.
Are mediation proceedings admissible as evidence?