Legal Environment

flag Philippines (the) Philippines (the): Legal Environment

In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
The non-observance of contracts is frequently a problem. They are sometimes renegotiatied unilaterally, and the law is ineffective for guaranteeing their application.
Language of Domestic Contract
English (or Filipino).

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The organization responsible for the protection of intellectual property in the Philippines is the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.
Regional Organisations
Harmonization within the ASEAN and the APEC.
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Rules and Regulations on Inventions
20 years Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Law on Trademarks, Service Marks and Trade Names
10 years, renewable every 10 years
During the lifetime of the author and 50 years after his death Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
5 years, renewable twice  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
To a large extent, foreign nationals can expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system.
The Language of Justice
The Philippines have two judicial languages: Filipino and English.
Legal Similarities
The main source of the law is the constitution of 1987. The country’s legal system is based on Spanish and Anglo-American law. The Philippines accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction though with reservations.

The Different Legal Codes

Civil Code Civil law
Criminal Code Criminal law
Labour Code Labour law
Corporation Code Commercial law
Country Guides
Lexmundi, Guide to doing business in Philippines: legal system.

The Jurisdictions

Supreme Court The Supreme Court is the highest Court in the Philippines. There is only one Supreme Court composed of one Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It is the final arbiter of any and all judicial issues. When so deciding, it may sit en banc or in divisions of three, five or seven members.
Court of Appeal A special court, the Sandiganbayan, composed of a Presiding Justice and eight Associate Justices, has exclusive jurisdiction over violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act [Republic Act No. 3019], the Unexplained Wealth Act [Republic Act No. 1379] and other crimes or felonies committed by public officials and employees in relation to their office, including those employees in government-owned or controlled corporations.
Regional Tribunal Regional Trial Courts were established among the thirteen regions in the Philippines consisting of Regions I to XII and the National Capital Region (NCR). There are as many Regional Trial Courts in each region as the law mandates.
Metropolitan Tribunal Municipal Trial Courts in the towns and cities in the Metropolitan Manila area, as distinguished from the other political subdivisions in the Philippines, are referred to as Metropolitan Trial Courts.

In cities outside Metropolitan Manila, the equivalent of the Municipal Trial Courts are referred to as Municipal Trial Courts in Cities.
Municipal Tribunal Every municipality in the Philippines has its own Municipal Trial Court. It is referred to as such if it covers only one municipality. Municipal Circuit Trial Court if it covers two or more municipalities.
Municipal Circuit Tribunal Municipal Circuit Trial Court are so named if they covers two or more municipalities.
Special Tribunal: Court of Tax Appeal A special court, the Court of Tax Appeals, composed of a Presiding Judge and two Associate Judges, is vested with the exclusive appellate jurisdiction over appeals from the decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Commissioner of Customs on certain specific issues.
Shari'a District Courts Equivalent to the Regional Trial Courts in rank are the Shari'a District Courts which were established in certain specified provinces in Mindanao where the Muslim Code on Personal Laws is being enforced.

There are five Shari'a District Courts and fifty one Shari'a Circuit Courts in existence.

Court Officials
Integrated Bar of the Philippines

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International Dispute Resolution

People are rather reticent about using arbitration, and the application of arbitration decisions can take years.
Arbitration Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution Act n°9285 of 2004, available here.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Arbitration Procedure
In July 2012, President Aquino signed an executive order requiring all government contracts involving PPP, BOT, and joint ventures with the private sector, to include provisions for alternative dispute resolution. Its the goal is to make resolving disputes less expensive, tedious, and time-consuming.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Philippine Dispute Resolution Center (Sectors Covered: Maritime affairs, banking, insurance, intellectual property, stock certificates)

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Latest Update: March 2024