Tiu V. Middleton

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TIU V. MIDDLETON

IMPT: Pre-trial is an essential device for the speedy disposition of disputes.  Hence, parties cannot brush it aside as a mere technicality.  Where the pre-trial brief does not contain the names of witnesses and the synopses of their testimonies as required by the Rules of Court, the trial court, through its pre-trial order, may bar the witnesses from testifying.  However, an order allowing the presentation of unnamed witnesses may no longer be modified during the trial, without the consent of the parties affected.

Facts: Silvestre Tiu assails two Orders rendered by RTC Oroquieta City in a civil case. The first Order, which was issued in open court, reads: “Considering the written arguments of both parties herein, the Court finds that the witness of defendant Silvestre Tiu, Ms. Antonia Tiu, who is the aunt of the defendant, whose name was not disclosed in the pre-trial brief is ordered excluded pursuant to the provisions of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure wherein it is required that all names of witnesses must be stated in the Pre-Trial Brief.”

The parties are also required to submit a pre-trial brief, which must contain the following: “(a) A statement of their willingness to enter into amicable settlement or alternative modes of dispute resolution, indicating the desired terms thereof; (b) A summary of admitted facts and proposed stipulation of facts; (c) The issues to be tried or resolved;

(d) The documents or exhibits to be presented, stating the purpose thereof; (e) A manifestation of their having availed or their intention to avail themselves of discovery procedures or referral to commissioners; and (f) The number and names of the witnesses, and the substance of their respective testimonies.”

The trial ensued, Hernandez presented their witnesses in due course. When his turn came, Tiu called Antonia Tiu as his first witness.  Citing Section 6, Rule 18 of the 1997 Rules of Court, Hernandez objected, arguing that the witness...
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