THE COURT of Appeals overturned the ruling of a Manila trial court against UST and stopped the private firm operating the multi-deck UST carpark from negotiating new lease contracts for commercial spaces in the structure.

Selegna Holdings Corp. has elevated the case to the Supreme Court via a petition for review.

“Of course, we will oppose the petition because we believe it is without merit,” Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina, whose law firm represents UST, said.

This came on the heels of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 47 ordering UST to comply in good faith with its contract with Selegna (UST appeals ruling in favor of Selegna, The Varsitarian, June 25, 2013). In 2010, however, UST likewise sued to take over the carpark after Selegna allegedly entered into concessionaire contracts without UST’s knowledge and participation.

In its ruling dated April 13, 2013, the appellate court granted the University’s petition to nullify the January 16, 2012 decision of Manila RTC Branch 26 Judge Silvino Pampilo dismissing UST’s suit against Selegna due to forum-shopping.

The University is alleging that the private carpark operator contracted cheaper rents for concessionaires of commercial spaces, with the lessees later charging higher rates to sub-lessees. UST is also saying it was “deprived and deceived” of the right amount of its shares in the revenues.

On March 17, 2011, the Manila RTC through Branch 173 prohibited Selegna from entering into lease contracts without UST’s approval. It also set aside Selegna’s motion to dismiss UST’s complaint on grounds of forum-shopping.

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In November 2011, the case was re-raffled to Branch 26 for judicial dispute resolution, an alternative mode of resolving cases. It was here that Judge Pampilo later dismissed UST’s complaint on the basis of forum-shopping, saying there was an existing civil case between both parties pending at Branch 47 (the suit first filed by Selegna).

In its appeal, UST argued that Pampilo instead ruled on the issue instead of acting as a mediator between the two litigants and persuading them to come to a “fair and mutually acceptable settlement.”

The Court of Appeals set aside Selegna’s motion for reconsideration, and ruled that the writ of preliminary injunction issued by Branch 173 against Selegna is still in effect so it should stop from entering into lease contracts without UST’s permission. C. F. Ramirez

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