Thursday, October 13, 2011

Philippines court delays

A new book called 'Our Rights, Our Victories', by Marites Danguilan Vitug and  Criselda Yabes studies the Philippines Supreme Court and concludes that the Philippines court system is plagued by poor staffing, old procedures, corruption and delays. Staffing is insufficient for the number of cases so cases take many years.

A report by a Manila-based consultancy Pacific Strategies & Assessments, indicates there are 7,000 backlogged cases for the 15 Supreme Court judges. Added to that are delaying tactics by parties, judicial corruption and political influence; the Philippines Courts are in a dire situation. Many court rules are 50 years old and “need to be amended or thrown out altogether,” says the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists.

For commercial cases like IP the multiple layers of appeal lead to delays. Common reversals indicate poor decisions even at appeal level and even the Supreme Court often reverses itself. Defendants routinely challenge every aspect of the case, with no penalty. Even hopeless cases are appealed adding to the backlog. And why not since the upper courts cannot be trusted to decide correctly.

IP Komodo always laments ineffective court systems. The Philippines courts look and feel more accessible than they are. For this reason there is talk of an IP court again (one was established but unused many years back, so folded back into the regular courts). But for now IP holders can only rely in the IP Office's Bureau of Legal Affairs' Administrative litigation for anything like quick Justice.

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