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KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE FACTS

by: PROF. MANUEL R. RIGUERA

As a long-time bar exam coach, one of the common errors or shortcomings which I note in my coachees is the misstatement or assumption of facts. I strongly advise my coachees to read carefully the facts of the question in order to avoid this error. One of the most irritating experiences for an examiner is to read answers which misstate or assume facts. The following suggested answer to Question No. V(B) of the 2014 Remedial Law Bar Exam shows that even the experts may fall prey to this kind of oversight.

 

Landlord, a resident of Quezon City, entered into a lease contract with Tenant, a resident of Marikina City, over a residential house in Las Piñas City. The lease contract provided, among others, for a monthly rental of P25,000.00, plus ten percent (10%) interest rate in case of non-payment on its due date. Subsequently, Landlord migrated to the United States of America (USA) but granted in favor of his sister Maria, a special power of attorney to manage the property and file and defend suits over the property rented out to Tenant. Tenant failed to pay the rentals due for five (5) months. Maria asks your legal advice on how she can expeditiously collect from Tenant the unpaid rentals plus interests due. (A) What judicial remedy would you recommend to Maria? (B) Where is the proper venue of the judicial remedy which you recommended?

 

“Suggested Answer of the UP Law Center Committee to V(B): If Maria decides to file a complaint for collection of sum of money under the Rules of Summary Procedure or Small Claims, the venue is the residence of the plaintiff or defendant, at the election of the plaintiff. (Section 2, Rule 4, Rules of Court). Hence it may be in Quezon City or Marikina City, at the option of Maria. (Emphases supplied).”

 

The suggested answer overlooks however that Landlord had already migrated to the USA prior to the filing of the complaint. Clearly therefore Landlord the Plaintiff no longer resided in Quezon City and hence the collection suit may not be filed there.

 

There is a psychological explanation for this oversight. The problem starts out with “Landlord, a resident of Quezon City,” and this fact stands out and remains embedded in the mind of the reader, creating a mental blind spot to the significance of the phrase “migrated to the United States.” That is why I always tell my coachees to read carefully the fact-setting of a problem twice and to underline important facts. The examinee should take note of “fact-changers” or “fact-modifiers.” For instance the examinee might have underlined twice “migrated” and then put an “x” atop “resident,” thus alerting him that “resident” is already a superseded or modified fact.

 

It is advised that a bar reviewee take practice exams and have the same reviewed by another person, preferably a bar exam coach. Factual misstatements are often not detected by the examinee himself even if he reviews his answer since he is still laboring under the same blind spot. A certified bar exam coach can spot these errors and identify and remedy the mental blind spots which lead to these blunders.


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