By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.
The Supreme Court has issued the "Efficient Use of Paper Rule," which will maximize the use of every sheet of paper in rulings to be issued by the court and in the pleadings to be filed by parties.
The SC noted that "there is a need to cut the judicial system's use of excessive quantities of costly paper, save our forests, avoid landslides, and mitigate the worsening effects of climate change that the world is experiencing."
The Rule will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013 after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation.
It will apply to all courts and quasi-judicial bodies under the administrative supervision of the SC.
Under the Efficient Use of Paper Rule, the SC, under Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. Aranal Sereno, has required that all pleadings, motions and similar papers intended for the consideration of all courts and quasi-judicial bodies under the supervision of the SC "shall be written in single space with a one-and-a-half space between paragraphs, using an easily readable font style of the party’s choice, of 14-size font and on a 13-inch by 8.5-inch white bond paper."
All decisions, resolutions and orders issued by courts and quasi-judicial bodies under the administrative supervision of the SC, as well as reports submitted to the courts and transcripts of stenographic notes, shall comply with the said requirements.
All court-bound papers to be submitted by every party shall also maintain a left-hand margin of 1.5 inches from the edge; an upper margin of 1.2 inches from the edge; a right-hand margin of one inch from the edge; and a lower margin of one inch from the edge. Every page must be consecutively numbered.
The Rule also specifies the number of court-bound papers in a particular court that a party is required or desires to file unless otherwise directed by the court.
In the SC for instance, parties are required to file one original and four copies, unless the case is referred to the SC en banc, in which event, the parties shall file 10 additional copies.
For the en banc, the parties need to submit only two sets of annexes -- one attached to the original and one extra copy.
For the SC Division, the parties need to submit also two sets of annexes -- one attached to the original, as well as an extra copy.
All justices of the SC shall share the extra copies of annexes in the interest of economy of paper.
The parties to cases before the SC are further required to submit, simultaneously with their court-bound papers, soft or electronic copies of the same and their annexes either by email to the SC's e-mail address or by compact disc.
This additional requirement will be on a voluntary basis for the first six months following the effectivity of the Rule and compulsorily afterwards unless the period is extended.
In the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, parties are required to submit one original and two copies with their annexes; and in the Court of Tax Appeals, one original and two copies with annexes, and on appeal to the en banc, one original and eight copies with annexes.
Parties before the trial courts are required to submit one original with the stated annexes attached to it.
Also, a party required by the rules to serve a copy of his or her court-bound paper on the adverse party need not enclose copies of those annexes that, based on the records of the court, show said party already has such.