- Records Disposal Period and Guidelines for Disposal of Lower Court Records in QC, Manila, Makati and Angeles City
- Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 103-11
July 11, 2011
SUPREME COURT ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 103-11
|TO||:||All Presiding Judges, Branch Clerks of Court, and Docket Clerks of the Regional Trial Courts and Metropolitan Trial Courts, and Clerks of Court of the Offices of the Clerks of Court of the Regional Trial Courts and Metropolitan Trial Courts of Quezon City, Manila City, Makati City and Angeles City|
|RE||:||Declaring a Records Disposal Period and Providing Guidelines for the Disposal of Lower Court Records in Quezon City, Manila City, Makati City and Angeles City|
WHEREAS, since the creation of the trial courts and their reorganization, they have accumulated voluminous records and numerous physical evidence over the last half a century;
WHEREAS, in contrast to the records and evidence amassed by the trial courts over time, storage space is sorely lacking, leaving the courts with no choice but to use up every available space in the Halls of Justice to store these records, papers and exhibits, including public hallways and corridors, stairwells, basements, and even fire exits;
WHEREAS, although there are existing rules for the disposal of case records, papers and exhibits, they have not been fully utilized because either the trial courts have found the process burdensome, or they are reluctant to dispose of records due to requests from parties for certifications and the like even long after the termination of proceedings in a case;
WHEREAS, the overcrowding brought about by the problem has resulted in improper and unsafe storage-keeping practices, exposing such records, papers and exhibits to the elements, and to irremediable loss, to the prejudice of the litigants, as well as posing a continuing danger not only to the courts and their personnel, but to the general public;
WHEREAS, there is thus an urgent need to resort to more practical means of storage for court papers, when necessary, and their disposal when proper, and in the long term, to develop an enduring monitoring and productivity review mechanism that will be the touchstone for broader reform support programs; HCITAS
WHEREAS, to this end, OCA Memorandum Order No. 10-2011 was issued creating the Ad Hoc Committee to Study the Disposal of Lower Court Records chaired by the Honorable Court Administrator, principally to formulate the guidelines that will govern the disposal and storage by electronic filing of court records, papers and exhibits;
WHEREAS, it has been determined that this project should first be tested in pilot areas and for this purpose, the Ad Hoc Committee has selected the trial courts of Quezon City, Manila City, Makati City and Angeles City for such pilot testing based on the number of courts involved and the volume of case records, papers and exhibits to be disposed of;
NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the foregoing premises, the following guidelines for the disposal of court records (case files, other court papers, and real evidence) shall be observed:
1. A Records Disposal Period is hereby declared to commence on July 16, 2011 until August 15, 2011 for all trial courts, both First Level Courts and Second Level Courts, as well as the Offices of the Clerks of Courts, in Quezon City, Manila City, Makati City and Angeles City.
2. The trial courts shall devote the entire period for the accomplishment of the tasks herein assigned. Accordingly, hearings shall be scheduled and conducted during the "Records Disposal Period" only on urgent matters and incidents such as but not limited to applications for habeas corpus, writs of amparo or habeas data, temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, temporary/permanent protection order, applications for bail, arraignment and trial of detained accused, motions for the lifting of warrants of arrest, and the like.
3. During the Records Disposal Period, no application for leave, whether filed by a judge, branch clerk of court, docket clerk, or court aide, or the Clerk of Court or Assistant Clerk of Court in these stations, shall be approved except for the most compelling reasons, to be determined by the Honorable Court Administrator.
4. The notice of the Records Disposal Period shall be published once in major dailies in the country with notice to the public to avail of the opportunity to go to court during a 15-day retrieval period, if they desire to withdraw any residual records prior to their scheduled destruction. To this end, the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court shall conduct an intensive information campaign for public awareness of these guidelines.
Notice of the intention to dispose of court records, papers and exhibits shall also be posted by the trial courts concerned for the duration of the Records Disposal Period in the individual branches, and in conspicuous places in the Hall of Justice, the City Hall, and the Central Postal Office in the station.
5. All trial court records, papers and exhibits, including object evidence/exhibits which by their nature cannot be appended to case records, in cases which have been closed and where all proceedings therein have been terminated:
(a) for a period exceeding 20 years on the date of the required inventory, shall be completely destroyed subject to the retention of the decision, order or resolution that finally disposes of the case. The period shall be reckoned from the date of the finality of the decision, order or resolution disposing of the case, if this be ascertainable, and if not, from the 60th day counted from date of the decision, order or resolution disposing of the case.
The Presiding Judge and the Branch Clerk of Court shall jointly sign a certification as to the last status of the case prior to such destruction which shall be entered in the pertinent page of the court's docket book.
(b) for at least seven years on the date of the required inventory, shall be set aside for complete destruction subject to the retention of certain documents, as hereinafter provided:
(b.1) In all civil cases, special civil actions, special proceedings, land registration cases and commercial court cases: the complaint, petition or other initiatory pleading; any responsive pleading; the decision, order or resolution that finally disposes of the case; the certificate of finality, if issued; any outstanding writ of execution; and in land registration cases, the sepia film plan and the original of the technical description of the property subject matter thereof. aAIcEH
(b.2) In all criminal cases: the information; the decision, order or resolution that finally disposes of the case; any proof of identity of the accused, such as photographs, thumb prints, or any other evidence of identity; the final discharge of the accused from probation; and, the mittimus or order of commitment of the accused to serve the sentence imposed by the court.
(b.3) In all family court cases, whether civil or criminal in nature: all record and exhibits. These shall be maintained under the strict rule of confidentiality as provided for under applicable laws and circulars.
(b.4) In naturalization cases: the petition and all its attachments; the decree, order or resolution either granting or denying the petition; and the subscribed oath as citizen of the applicant.
(b.5) Where the contents of a case record are illegible and beyond recognition: if the status of the case is known and verifiable as disposed from other court records, such as the docket book, the entire record shall be completely destroyed and the Presiding Judge and the Branch Clerk of Court shall jointly sign a certification that the case has been disposed and its records are illegible, on the pertinent page of the court's docket book.
However, if the status of the case is unknown and unverifiable from other court records, a hearing shall be called and the parties shall be summoned to reconstitute the pertinent records pursuant to applicable laws, to thereby determine the status of the case and henceforth apply these guidelines as may be fit.
(b.6) In the Office of the Clerks of Court in the First Level Courts: undocketed cases, such as cases for violation of
(b.7) In the Office of the Clerks of Court in the Second Level Courts: in cases of extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage, when ten years have passed from date of issuance of the certificate of sale/final sale, the entire record shall be destroyed but the Office of the Clerk of Court concerned shall retain the certificate of sale/final sale.
(b.8) Notarial documents on file with the Office of the Clerk of Court in the Second Level Courts shall be kept intact, except the applications for original and renewal notarial commissions which shall be retained only for a period of 2 years from date of issuance of the commission, after which the entire application shall be destroyed completely, but the Office of the Clerk of Court concerned shall retain the latest notarial commission issued thereunder, as well as the specimen signatures submitted by the applicant.
The period shall also be reckoned from the date of the finality of the decision, order or resolution disposing of the case, it this be ascertainable, and if not, from the 60th day counted from date of the decision, order or resolution disposing of the case; IcHEaA
3. The procedure for disposal shall be as follows:
(a) Within 15 days from the date of publication of the notice to dispose of court records by the Office of the Court Administrator, any interested party may file an application to retrieve any residual case record, i.e., the remainder of the case file after detaching the documents for retention and scanning, which the courts are not bound to electronically copy and preserve, as afore-enumerated. This application shall be filed with the branch concerned, where known; otherwise, the same shall be filed with the Office of the Clerk of Court of the station. After the lapse of the 15-day application period, no other application for retrieval shall be acted upon by the courts.
No application for retrieval shall be accepted unless the retrieval fee of PHP500.00 is paid to the Office of the Clerk of Court under official receipt. In the event that the case file sought to be retrieved can no longer be located, the fee shall be refunded in full to the applicant upon certification by the branch concerned or the Office of the Clerk of Court, as the case may be, that it could no longer be located.
(b) Upon receipt of any application for retrieval of residual records, the court concerned or the Office of the Clerk of Court, as the case may be, shall draw up a "hold list" enumerating the case details covered by the application. The records of cases appearing in the "hold list" shall be set aside for retrieval by the applicants.
(c) The Records Disposal Period shall be devoted primarily to a sorting and segregation of each court's inactive case records, which shall include archived cases, disposed cases, and those in the dead files, to identify records for destruction in accordance with these guidelines. The sorting shall be conducted by the Judge assigned to the court, whether in a permanent or acting capacity, and the Branch Clerk of Court, together. In the Office of the Clerk of Court, the sorting shall be conducted by the Clerk of Court and the Assistant Clerk of Court together.
(d) In the course of the sorting and segregation by the Judge and the Branch Clerk of Court, the documents for retention and scanning, as enumerated herein, shall be detached from the case files and collated sequentially in accordance with the case numbers and in the same order as they appear in the accompanying list for each branch concerned. caCTHI
A list shall then be made of such residual records segregated for disposal, indicating the case number, case title and date filed for each case. This list shall be certified jointly by the Judge and the Branch Clerk of Court. The prescribed form (Form No. _____) shall be used in listing the cases segregated for destruction, with the separate "hold list" for cases where an application for retrieval of residual records has been filed.
(e) The lists embodied in the prescribed form shall be submitted to the Executive Judge of the station by August 17, 2011, together with the collated documents retained for electronic scanning and filing. The Executive Judge shall thereafter compile all reports in the station and submit the same to the Office of the Court Administrator no later than August 19, 2011.
The Executive Judge shall furnish the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Chapter offices in the affected station with a set of the complete lists for dissemination to their membership.
(f) The Court Administrator shall seek an authority for destruction of such court records from the Executive Director, National Archives of the Philippines (NAP) using the prescribed NAP Forms 3-5 in compliance with Section 18 of Article III and Article 46 of Rule 30 of
4. Records, papers and exhibits set aside for electronic copying shall be scanned and electronically copied in a manner to be determined most expedient by the Office of the Court Administrator.
Once scanned, the electronic files shall be stored at a Central Information Facility at the Office of the Clerk of Court of each station concerned. Upon creation of such electronic files, the concerned Office of the Clerk of Court, which shall be the custodian of the main copy, shall issue any and all certifications regarding information stored in these electronic files which are otherwise unverifiable.
5. The destruction of case records, papers and exhibits shall be carried out through shredding and recycling, as the Office of the Court Administrator may deem proper.
6. The disposal of records in accordance with these guidelines shall be conducted periodically every seven years, as scheduled by the Office of the Court Administrator. A mechanism for periodic monitoring and productivity assessment review shall be set up per station and under the supervision of the Office of the Court Administrator to gauge the short term and long term efficiency of the project vis- -vis its objectives, and as a possible take-off point for other reform support programs.
7. This Administrative Order amends or otherwise supersedes
Where there is a specific law governing the disposal of certain court records, papers and/or exhibits, these guidelines shall not apply.
This Administrative Order shall take effect upon its issuance. HCATEa
Issued this 11th day of July 2011.
(SGD.) RENATO C. CORONA