K. Voluntary arbitrator

Frequency: ★★★★★

1. JURISDICTION

a. Exclusive and original jurisdiction

1) Those arising from the implementation or interpretation of the CBA; and

2) Those arising from the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies which remain unresolved after exhaustion of the grievance procedure. (Section 1, Rule XI, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code)

b. Voluntary Arbitrators (VA)

1) NCMB-accredited Voluntary Arbitrator;

2) Any person named or designated in the CBA by the parties to act as their Voluntary Arbitrator;

3) Chosen with/without the assistance of the NCMB, pursuant to a selection procedure agreed upon in the CBA; or

4) Any official that may be authorized by the DOLE Secretary to act as Voluntary Arbitrator upon the written request and agreement of the parties to a labor dispute. (Article 219[n], Labor Code)

c. Awards, as court decisions

Awards of voluntary arbitrators determine the rights of parties; hence, their decisions have the same legal effect as judgments of a court. A voluntary arbitrator by the nature of her functions, acts in a quasi-judicial capacity. It follows that the voluntary arbitrator, whether acting solely or in a panel, enjoys in law the status of a quasi-judicial agency but independent of, and apart from, the NLRC since his decisionsa are not appealable to the latter. (Section 1, Rule XI, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code)

If no appeal is made, the award is final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from the receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties. (Section 3, Rule XI, Ibid.)

•••••

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question XI[C], Labor Law, 2017 Bar Exam)

State the jurisdiction of the Voluntary Arbitrator, or Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators in labor disputes? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Voluntary Arbitrators or a Panel of Voluntary Arbitrators have exclusive and original jurisdiction on the following cases:

1) Those arising from the implementation or interpretation of the CBA;

2) Those arising from the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies which remain unresolved after exhaustion of the grievance procedure; and

3) All other Labor Disputes submitted by the parties upon agreement.

•••••

2. REMEDIES

a. Motion for Reconsideration, optional

Should the aggrieved party choose to file a motion for reconsideration with the Voluntary Arbitrator, the motion must be filed within the same 10-day period since a motion for reconsideration is filed “within the period for taking an appeal.” (Philippine Electric Corporation (PHILEC) v. CA, G.R. No. 168612, 10 December 2014)

The motion for reconsideration is thus optional.

b. Appeal before the Court of Appeals

A Voluntary Arbitrator’s award or decision shall be appealed before the Court of Appeals within 10 days from receipt of the award or decision. (Ibid.)

1) Rule 43

The appeal is via Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. (Ibid.)

2) 10-day period to appeal

An appeal to reverse or modify a Voluntary Arbitrator’s award or decision must be filed before the Court of Appeals within 10 calendar days from receipt of the award or decision. (Ibid.)

Via Rule 43, Section 1 states: “This Rule shall apply to appeals from judgments or final orders of… voluntary arbitrators authorized by law.” (Ibid.)

Despite Rule 43 providing for a 15-day period to appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the Voluntary Arbitrator’s decision must be appealed before the Court of Appeals within 10 calendar days from receipt of the decision as provided in the Labor Code. Rules of Court are “subordinate to the statute.” In case of conflict between the law and the Rules of Court, “the statute will prevail.” (Ibid.)

c. Petition for Certiorari

1) Only when no appeal is available

A petition for certiorari may be filed only if appeal is not available. (Ibid.)

In Unicraft Industries International Corporation, et al. v. The Hon. Court of Appeals, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari against the Voluntary Arbitrator’s decision. Finding that the Voluntary Arbitrator rendered an award without giving petitioners an opportunity to present evidence, this court allowed petitioners’ petition for certiorari despite being the wrong remedy. The Voluntary Arbitrator’s award, this court said, was null and void for violation of petitioners’ right to due process. This court decided the case on the merits. (Ibid.)

2) Grounds for certiorari (in lieu of appeal)

1) When the public welfare and the advancement of public policy dictate;

2) When the broader interests of justice so require;

3) When the writs issued are null; and

4) When the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority. (Ibid.)

•••••

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question B.11[c], Part II, Labor Law, 2019 Bar Exam)

Briefly discuss the powers and responsibilities of the following in the scheme of the Labor Code:

(c) Voluntary Arbitrators (2%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Voluntary Arbitrators have the power and responsibility to hear and decide the following cases:

1) Those arising from the implementation or interpretation of the CBA;

2) Those arising from the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies which remain unresolved after exhaustion of the grievance procedure; and

3) All other Labor Disputes submitted by the parties upon agreement.

•••••

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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