The Legal System of the Philippines Compared to the U.S. Legal System

Hanna Stoner February 28, 2018

While legal systems are often similarly structured, there are differences between how the systems work in different counties. The legal system in the Philippines is a mixture of civil, common, Islamic and customary law. Their formal system of trials, appeals and prisons is comparable to the United State’s systems.

In the Philippines they have their own legal code, which has changed over time. Since 1946 the laws that have been passed by congress including legal codes have been entitled the Republic Acts. These codes are based on Spanish and Anglo-American law, with Islamic law applying mostly to the southern regions of the Philippines.

Similar to the US, the legal system is very busy and decisions can take a while. The majority of the decisions are criminal law, family law and land law...

In the Philippines they do not have Tort law or bankruptcy law. The Republic Acts do not include or define Tort law. The most similar concept to Torts is Quasi-delict or negligence. The primary difference is that there is no concept of absolute liability for a manufacturer or employer as we have the U.S.

Another major difference is that the plaintiff has the burden of proof in negligence cases, and the injured person’s (plaintiff’s) actions are taken into account. This is a relatively large burden of proof, which is one of the reasons why the courts in the Philippines are not overburdened with negligence cases.

An additional difference between the U.S. and Philippines legal system is how bankruptcy is handled. Bankruptcy is covered by the insolvency acts, and the burden of proof is on the debtor. Usually this type of bankruptcy does not result in the dissolution of debt, instead the debt is restructured. So unlike in the U.S. if you declare bankruptcy in the Philippines you like still have to pay your debt.

One of the most apparent differences between the two systems is that there is no trial by jury in the Philippines. This can be attributed to Spanish influences. The trials are decided by judges, which can be an issue if one believes the judge to be unfair.

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