C. Parties to civil actions (Rule 3)


Plaintiff and defendant

Only natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized by law may be parties in a civil action.

Plaintiff. The term “plaintiff” may refer to the claiming party, the counter-claimant, the cross-claimant, or the third (fourth, etc.)[-]party plaintiff.

Defendant. The term “defendant” may refer to the original defending party, the defendant in a counterclaim, the cross-defendant, or the third (fourth, etc.)[-]party defendant. (Section 1, Rule 3, Rules of Court)

Parties in interest

A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest. (Section 2, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Representatives as parties

Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of an express trust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by law or these Rules. An agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal. (Section 3, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Spouses as parties

Husband and wife shall sue or be sued jointly, except as provided by law. (Section 4, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Minor or incompetent persons

A minor or a person alleged to be incompetent, may sue or be sued, with the assistance of his father, mother, guardian, or if he has none, a guardian ad litem. (Section 5, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Section 6. Permissive joinder of parties. – All persons in whom or against whom any right to relief in respect to or arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions is alleged to exist, whether jointly, severally, or in the alternative, may, except as otherwise provided in these Rules, join as plaintiffs or be joined as defendants in one complaint, where any question of law or fact common to all such plaintiffs or to all such defendants may arise in the action; but the court may make such orders as may be just to prevent any plaintiff or defendant from being embarrassed or put to expense in connection with any proceedings in which he may have no interest. (Section 6, Rule 3, Ibid.)


Compulsory joinder of indispensable parties

Parties in interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action shall be joined either as plaintiffs or defendants. (Section 7, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Necessary party

A necessary party is one who is not indispensable but who ought to be joined as a party if complete relief is to be accorded as to those already parties, or for a complete determination or settlement of the claim subject of the action. (Section 8, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Non-joinder of necessary parties to be pleaded

Whenever in any pleading in which a claim is asserted a necessary party is not joined, the pleader shall set forth his name, if known, and shall state why he is omitted. Should the court find the reason for the omission unmeritorious, it may order the inclusion of the omitted necessary party if jurisdiction over his person may be obtained. (Section 9, Rule 3, Ibid.)

The failure to comply with the order for his inclusion, without justifiable cause, shall be deemed a waiver of the claim against such party. (Paragraph 2, Section 9, Rule 3, Ibid.)

The non-inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from proceeding in the action, and the judgment rendered therein shall be without prejudice to the rights of such necessary party. (Paragraph 3, Section 9, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Unwilling co-plaintiff

If the consent of any party who should be joined as plaintiff can not be obtained, he may be made a defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint. (Section 10, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Misjoinder and non-joinder of parties

Neither misjoinder nor non-joinder of parties is ground for dismissal of an action. Parties may be dropped or added by order of the court on motion of any party or on its own initiative at any stage of the action and on such terms as are just. Any claim against a misjoined party may be severed and proceeded with separately. (Section 11, Rule 3, Ibid.)


When the subject matter of the controversy is one of common or general interest to many persons so numerous that it is impracticable to join all as parties, a number of them which the court finds to be sufficiently numerous and representative as to fully protect the interests of all concerned may sue or defend for the benefit of all. Any party in interest shall have the right to intervene to protect his individual interest. (Section 12, Rule 3, Ibid.)


Alternative defendants

Where the plaintiff is uncertain against who of several persons he is entitled to relief, he may join any or all of them as defendants in the alternative, although a right to relief against one may be inconsistent with a right of relief against the other. (Section 13, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Unknown identity or name of defendant

Whenever the identity or name of a defendant is unknown, he may be sued as the unknown owner, heir, devisee, or by such other designation as the case may require; when his identity or true name is discovered, the pleading must be amended accordingly. (Section 14, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Entity without juridical personality as defendant

When two or more persons not organized as an entity with juridical personality enter into a transaction, they may be sued under the name by which they are generally or commonly known. (Section 15, Rule 3, Ibid.)

In the answer of such defendant, the names and addresses of the persons composing said entity must all be revealed. (Paragraph 2, Section 14, Rule 3, Ibid.)


Duty of counsel

Whenever a party to a pending action dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it shall be the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days after such death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and address of his legal representative or representatives. Failure of counsel to comply with this duty shall be a ground for disciplinary action. (Section 16, Rule 3, Ibid.)

The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor heirs. (Paragraph 2, Section 16, Rule 3, Ibid.)

The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or representatives to appear and be substituted within a period of thirty (30) days from notice. (Paragraph 3, Section 16, Rule 3, Ibid.)

If no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased party, or if the one so named shall fail to appear within the specified period, the court may order the opposing party, within a specified time, to procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for the estate of the deceased and the latter shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as costs. (Paragraph 4, Section 16, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Death or separation of a party who is a public officer

When a public officer is a party in an action in his official capacity and during its pendency dies, resigns, or otherwise ceases to hold office, the action may be continued and maintained by or against his successor if, within thirty (30) days after the successor takes office or such time as may be granted by the court, it is satisfactorily shown to the court by any party that there is a substantial need for continuing or maintaining it and that the successor adopts or continues or threatens to adopt or continue the action of his predecessor. Before a substitution is made, the party or officer to be affected, unless expressly assenting thereto, shall be given reasonable notice of the application therefor and accorded an opportunity to be heard. (Section 17, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Incompetency or incapacity

If a party becomes incompetent or incapacitated, the court, upon motion with notice, may allow the action to be continued by or against the incompetent or incapacitated person assisted by his legal guardian or guardian ad litem. (Section 18, Rule 3, Ibid.)


In case of any transfer of interest, the action may be continued by or against the original party, unless the court upon motion directs the person to whom the interest is transferred to be substituted in the action or joined with the original party. (Section 19, Rule 3, Ibid.)


When the action is for recovery of money arising from contract, express or implied, and the defendant dies before entry of final judgment in the court in which the action was pending at the time of such death, it shall not be dismissed but shall instead be allowed to continue until entry of final judgment. A favorable judgment obtained by the plaintiff therein shall be enforced in the manner especially provided in these Rules for prosecuting claims against the estate of a deceased person. (Section 20, Rule 3, Ibid.)


A party may be authorized to litigate his action, claim or defense as an indigent if the court, upon an ex parte application and hearing, is satisfied that the party is one who has no money or property sufficient and available for food, shelter and basic necessities for himself and his family. (Section 21, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Such authority shall include an exemption from payment of docket and other lawful fees, and of transcripts of stenographic notes which the court may order to be furnished him. The amount of the docket and other lawful fees which the indigent was exempted from paying shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorable to the indigent, unless the court otherwise provides.

Any adverse party may contest the grant of such authority at any time before judgment is rendered by the trial court. If the court should determine after hearing that the party declared as an indigent is in fact a person with sufficient income or property, the proper docket and other lawful fees shall be assessed and collected by the clerk of court. If payment is not made within the time fixed by the court, execution shall issue or the payment thereof, without prejudice to such other sanctions as the court may impose. (Paragraph 2, Section 21, Rule 3, Ibid.)


In any action involving the validity of any treaty, law, ordinance, executive order, presidential decree, rules or regulations, the court, in its discretion, may require the appearance of the Solicitor General who may be heard in person or through a representative duly designated by him. (Section 22, Rule 3, Ibid.)

Disclaimer: All information herein is for educational and general information only intended for those preparing for the bar exam. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.


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