Thus, the Supreme Court held in the following case:
Calleon vs. HZSC Realty Corporation
G.R. No. 228572, January 27, 2020
Reckoning point for Motion for Reconsideration of the Court of Appeals Decision; Fifteen (15) days to file motion for reconsideration; Receipt of the Resolution; Service of resolutions; Receipt by counsel vs. receipt by party of personal notice; Receipt by party represented by a counsel is not considered notice in law; TRO issued by the Supreme Court; Remand of the case
The instant controversy stemmed from complaints for illegal (constructive) dismissal, non-payment of salary, 13th month pay, and separation pay, as well as payment of moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees filed by respondents John Leanlon P. Raymundo, Emerson D. Angeles, Lloyd T. Ison, Sherwin M. Odoño, Lemuel D. Venzon, and Ronald F. Caling (Leanion, et al.) against respondent HZSC Realty Corporation (HZSC) and its President, herein petitioner Michael Calleon (Calleon), arising from HZSC’s failure to rehire them after more than six (6) months from the temporary shutdown of its business operation due to business losses on January 23, 2015.
The Labor Arbiter (LA) declared HZSC and petitioner guilty of illegal (constructive) dismissal for HZSC’s failure to comply with the procedural requirements under Article 283 (now Article 298) of the Labor Code, and ordered them to pay respondents their respective unpaid salary, separation pay, nominal damages, plus ten percent (10%) of the total monetary awards as attorney’s fees.
Aggrieved, HZSC and Calleon appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
The NLRC dismissed the appeal of HZSC and petitioner,11 and thereafter, denied their motions for reconsideration.
Calleon filed a petition for certioraril before the CA, praying to be absolved from liability in the absence of any finding of malice and fraud on his part.
The CA dismissed the petition for failure to comply with the required contents thereof, and the documents which should accompany it.
Calleon received his personal notice of the September 23, 2016 Resolution on October 5, 2016. On October 26, 2016, he filed a motion for reconsideration claiming that: (a) he received (referring to his counsel’s receipt) notice of the September 23, 2016 Resolution on October 11, 2016; and (b) he had already remedied the procedural defects in his petition, attaching therewith an Amended Petition for Certiorari.
The CA denied the motion for reconsideration for having been belatedly filed.
Hence, the petition claiming that petitioner’s counsel, Atty. Ariel C. Santos (Atty. Santos), received notice of the September 23, 2016 Resolution on October 17, 2016, and as such, the motion for reconsideration was timely filed.
Whether or not the filing of the motion for reconsideration should be reckoned from the date of receipt of counsel and not from the date of receipt of the party of personal notice
The SC found the petition meritorious.
The SC held that Section 2, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court (Rules) provides that “[i]f any party has appeared by counsel, service upon him shall be made upon his counsel or one of them, unless service upon the party himself is ordered by the court.”
Thus, even if a party represented by counsel has been actually notified, said notice is not considered notice in law. “The reason is simple – the parties, generally, have no formal education or knowledge of the rules of procedure, specifically, the mechanics of an appeal or availment of legal remedies; thus, they may also be unaware of the rights and duties of a litigant relative to the receipt of a decision.
More importantly, it is best for the courts to deal only with one person in the interest of orderly procedure – either the lawyer retained by the party or the party him/herself if [he/she] does not intend to hire a lawyer.”
As to service of court resolutions, Section 9, Rule 13 of the Rules pertinently provides that judgments, final orders or resolutions shall be served either personally or by registered mail. When a party summoned by publication has failed to appear in the action, judgments, final orders or resolutions against him shall be served upon him also by publication at the expense of the prevailing party.
In the case at bar, a copy of the September 23, 2016 Resolution was sent to Atty. Santos at his registered address in Meycauayan, Bulacan through registered Letter No. BDN-2291. On November 8, 2016, the CA sent a tracer to the Postmaster of Meycauyan, Bulacan directing him to inform the court of the exact date when the said letter was delivered to and received by the addressee. However, prior to the receipt of the Postmaster’s reply, the CA already issued its assailed November 28, 2016 Resolution denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration for having been belatedly filed, apparently reckoning the same from petitioner’s receipt of his personal notice of the September 23, 2016 Resolution on October 5, 2016.
On December 2, 2016, the CA received the Postmaster’s reply30 to tracer informing the court that Atty. Santos received registered Letter No. BDN-2291 on October 11, 2016. Consequently, petitioner had fifteen (15) days from such receipt, or until October 26, 2016, within which to file his motion for reconsideration. Thus, petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was timely filed, contrary to the ruling of the CA.
Accordingly, there is a need to remand the case to the CA to resolve the motion for reconsideration on the merits. Notably, petitioner had submitted, together with the said motion, an Amended Petition for Certiorari which he claims to have already rectified the procedural deficiencies cited by the CA in its September 23, 2016 Resolution. In view thereof, the other issues raised in this petition which involve mixed questions of fact and law on the substantive merits of the petition should properly be addressed to and resolved by the CA.
Finally, considering that petitioner raises as an issue the propriety of the order adjudging him solidarily liable with the non-operating respondent, HZSC, for the individual respondents’ money claims, which is yet to be resolved by the CA, the TRO issued by the Court on January 25, 2017 enjoining the NLRC from implementing its June 30, 2016 Decision and August 31, 2016 Resolution stands until further orders from the Court.