Free access to courts and legal assistance, Bill of Rights

1. Concept

Free access to courts and adequate legal assistance. Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty. (Section 11, Article III, 1987 Constitution)

a. Equal access

Free access to the courts and adequate legal assistance are among the fundamental rights which the Constitution extends to the less privileged. The Constitution affords litigants – moneyed or poor – equal access to the courts; moreover, it specifically provides that poverty shall not bar any person from having access to the courts. Accordingly, laws and rules must be formulated, interpreted, and implemented pursuant to the intent and spirit of this constitutional provision. (Re: Letter dated April 18, 2011 of Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta Requesting Exemption from the Payment of Sheriff’s Expenses, En Banc, A.M. No. 11-10-03-0, 30 July 2013)

b. Supreme Court’s power

The Court recognizes the right of access to justice as the most important pillar of legal empowerment of the marginalized sectors of our society. Among others, it has exercised its power to “promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights” to open the doors of justice to the underprivileged and to allow them to step inside the courts to be heard of their plaints. In particular, indigent litigants are permitted under Section 21, Rule 315 and Section 19, Rule 14116 of the Rules of Court to brin...

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