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MCC v. Ssangyong Corp

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  408SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED MCC Industrial Sales Corporation vs. Ssangyong Corporation G.R. No. 170633. October 17, 2007. * MCC INDUSTRIAL SALES CORPORATION, petitioner, vs.  SSANGYONG CORPORATION, respondent.  Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Attorneys; Judgments; Whilereceipt of a copy of the decision by one of several counsels on recordis notice to all, and the period to appeal commences on such dateeven if the other counsel has not yet received a copy of the decision,the rule may be relaxed where it appears that there is an apparentagreement between the counsels that it would be the collaborating,not the principal, who would file the appeal brief and thesubsequent pleadings in the Court of Appeals.  —It cannot begainsaid that in  Albano v. Court of Appeals , 362 SCRA 667 (2001),we held that receipt of a copy of the decision by one of severalcounsels on record is notice to all, and the period to appealcommences on such date even if the other counsel has not yetreceived a copy of the decision. In this case, when Atty. Samsonreceived a copy of the CA decision on September 14, 2005, MCChad only fifteen (15) days within which to file a motion forreconsideration conformably with Section 1, Rule 52 of the Rulesof Court, or to file a petition for review on certiorari  in accordancewith Section 2, Rule 45. The period should not be reckoned fromSeptember 29, 2005 (when Castillo Zamora & Poblador received  _______________  *  THIRD DIVISION. 409  VOL. 536, OCTOBER 17, 2007409 MCC Industrial Sales Corporation vs. Ssangyong Corporation  their copy of the decision) because notice to Atty. Samson isdeemed notice to collaborating counsel. We note, however, fromthe records of the CA, that it was Castillo Zamora & Poblador, not Atty. Samson, which filed both MCC’s and Chan’s Brief and ReplyBrief. Apparently, the arrangement between the two counsels wasfor the collaborating, not the principal, counsel to file the appealbrief and subsequent pleadings in the CA. This explains why itwas Castillo Zamora & Poblador which filed the motion for thereconsideration of the CA decision, and they did so on October 5,2005, well within the 15-day period from September 29, 2005,when they received their copy of the CA decision. This could alsobe the reason why the CA did not find it necessary to resolve thequestion of the timeliness of petitioner’s motion forreconsideration, even as the CA denied the same. Same; Same; Same; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Itshould be remembered that the Rules were promulgated to set guidelines in the orderly administration of justice, not to shacklethe hand that dispenses it.  —It should be remembered that theRules were promulgated to set guidelines in the orderlyadministration of justice, not to shackle the hand that dispensesit. Otherwise, the courts would be consigned to being mere slavesto technical rules, deprived of their judicial discretion.Technicalities must take a backseat to substantive rights. Afterall, it is circumspect leniency in this respect that will give theparties the fullest opportunity to ventilate the merits of theirrespective causes, rather than have them lose life, liberty, honoror property on sheer technicalities. Same; Same; Motions for Reconsideration; Mere restatementof arguments in a motion for reconsideration does not per se resultin a pro forma motion; The pro forma rule will not apply if thearguments were not sufficiently passed upon and answered in thedecision sought to be reconsidered.  —Suffice it to say that the mererestatement of arguments in a motion for reconsideration does not  per se  result in a  pro forma  motion. In Security Bank and TrustCompany, Inc. v. Cuenca , 341 SCRA 781 (2000), we held that amotion for reconsideration may not be necessarily  pro forma  evenif it reiterates the arguments earlier passed upon and rejected bythe appellate court. A movant may raise the same argumentsprecisely to convince the court that its ruling was erroneous.Furthermore, the  pro forma  rule will not apply if the argumentswere not sufficiently passed upon and answered in the decisionsought to be reconsidered. 410  410SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED MCC Industrial Sales Corporation vs. Ssangyong Corporation Same; Same; The Supreme Court has ample authority to gobeyond the pleadings when, in the interest of justice or for the promotion of public policy, there is a need to make its own findingsin order to support its conclusions.  —The second issue poses anovel question that the Court welcomes. It provides the occasionfor this Court to pronounce a definitive interpretation of theequally innovative provisions of the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (R.A. No. 8792) vis-àvis  the Rules on Electronic Evidence. Although the parties did not raise the question whether thesrcinal facsimile transmissions are “electronic data messages” or“electronic documents” within the context of the ElectronicCommerce Act (the petitioner merely assails as inadmissibleevidence the photocopies of the said facsimile transmissions), wedeem it appropriate to determine first whether the said faxtransmissions are indeed within the coverage of R.A. No. 8792before ruling on whether the photocopies thereof are covered bythe law. In any case, this Court has ample authority to go beyondthe pleadings when, in the interest of justice or for the promotionof public policy, there is a need to make its own findings in orderto support its conclusions. Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (R.A. No. 8792); Evidence;Rules on Electronic Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; Words and Phrases; To be admissible in evidence as an electronic datamessage or to be considered as the functional equivalent of ansrcinal document under the Best Evidence Rule, the writing must foremost be an “electronic data message” or an “electronicdocument.”   —The ruling of the Appellate Court is incorrect. R.A.No. 8792, otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, considers an electronic data message or an electronicdocument as the functional equivalent of a written document forevidentiary purposes. The Rules on Electronic Evidence regardsan electronic document as admissible in evidence if it complieswith the rules on admissibility prescribed by the Rules of Courtand related laws, and is authenticated in the manner prescribedby the said Rules. An electronic document is also the equivalent of an srcinal document under the Best Evidence Rule, if it is aprintout or output readable by sight or other means, shown toreflect the data accurately. Thus, to be admissible in evidence asan electronic data message or to be considered as the functionalequivalent of an srcinal document under the Best Evidence Rule, the writing must foremost be an “electronic data message” or an“electronic document.”   411  VOL. 536, OCTOBER 17, 2007411 MCC Industrial Sales Corporation vs. Ssangyong Corporation Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Words and Phrases; While “data message” has reference to informationelectronically sent, stored or transmitted, it does not necessarilymean that it will give rise to a right or extinguish an obligation,unlike an “electronic document,” nevertheless evident from the lawis the legislative intent to give the two terms the same construction.  —The clause on the interchangeability of the terms “electronicdata message” and “electronic document” was the result of theSenate of the Philippines’ adoption, in Senate Bill 1902, of thephrase “electronic data message” and the House of Representative’s employment, in House Bill 9971, of the term“electronic document.” In order to expedite the reconciliation of the two versions, the technical working group of the BicameralConference Committee adopted both terms and intended them tobe the equivalent of each one. Be that as it may, there is a slightdifference between the two terms. While “data message” hasreference to information electronically sent, stored or transmitted,it does not necessarily mean that it will give rise to a right orextinguish an obligation , unlike an electronic document. Evidentfrom the law, however, is the legislative intent to give the twoterms the same construction. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The “international srcin” mentioned in Section 37 of the Electronic Commerce Act can onlyrefer to the UNCITRAL Model Law, and the UNCITRAL’sdefinition of “data message.”   —As further guide for the Court in itstask of statutory construction, Section 37 of the ElectronicCommerce Act of 2000 provides that Unless otherwise expresslyprovided for, the interpretation of this Act shall give due regard toits international srcin  and the need to promote uniformity in itsapplication and the observance of good faith in international traderelations. The generally accepted principles of international lawand convention on electronic commerce shall likewise beconsidered. Obviously, the “international srcin” mentioned inthis section can only refer to the UNCITRAL Model Law, and theUNCITRAL’s definition of “data message”: “Data message” meansinformation generated, sent, received or stored by electronic,optical or similar means including, but not limited to, electronicdata interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy ,is substantially the same as the IRR’s characterization of an“electronic data message.”

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