April 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected April 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Conjugal partnership property; mortgage; consent of spouse. The husband cannot alienate or encumber any conjugal real property without the consent, express or implied, of the wife. Should the husband do so, then the contract is voidable. Article 173 of the Civil Code allows Aguete to question Ros’ encumbrance of the subject property. However, the same article does not guarantee that the courts will declare the annulment of the contract. Annulment will be declared only upon a finding that the wife did not give her consent. In the present case, we follow the conclusion of the appellate court and rule that Aguete gave her consent to Ros’ encumbrance of the subject property.

The application for loan shows that the loan would be used exclusively “for additional working [capital] of buy & sell of garlic & virginia tobacco.” In her testimony, Aguete confirmed that Ros engaged in such business, but claimed to be unaware whether it prospered. Aguete was also aware of loans contracted by Ros, but did not know where he “wasted the money.” Debts contracted by the husband for and in the exercise of the industry or profession by which he contributes to the support of the family cannot be deemed to be his exclusive and private debts. Joe A. Ros and Estrella Aguete v. Philippine National Bank, Laoag Branch, G.R. No. 170166. April 6, 2011.

Contract; determinacy of object. That the kasunduan did not specify the technical boundaries of the property did not render the sale a nullity. The requirement that a sale must have for its object a determinate thing is satisfied as long as, at the time the contract is entered into, the object of the sale is capable of being made determinate without the necessity of a new or further agreement between the parties.  As portion of the kasunduan shows, there is no doubt that the object of the sale is determinate. Domingo Carabeo v. Spouses Dingco, G.R. No. 190823, April 4, 2011.

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November 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected November 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Damages; attorney’s fees.  On the award of attorney’s fees, attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation were awarded because Alfredo was compelled to litigate due to the unjust refusal of Land Bank to refund the amount he paid. There are instances when it is just and equitable to award attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation.  Art. 2208 of the Civil Code pertinently states:

In the absence of stipulation, attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, cannot be recovered, except:

x x x x

(2) When the defendant’s act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest.

Given that Alfredo was indeed compelled to litigate against Land Bank and incur expenses to protect his interest, we find that the award falls under the exception above and is, thus, proper given the circumstances. Land Bank of the Philippines vs. Alfredo Ong, G.R. No. 190755, November 24, 2010.

Damages; attorney’s fees.  Regarding the grant of attorney’s fees, the Court agrees with the RTC that said award is justified. Losin refused to pay Vitarich despite the latter’s repeated demands.  It was left with no recourse but to litigate and protect its interest. We, however, opt to reduce the same to P10,000.00 from P20,000.00. Vitarich Corporation vs. Chona Locsin, G.R. No. 181560, November 15, 2010.

Damages; for loss of earning capacity.  The award of damages for loss of earning capacity is concerned with the determination of losses or damages sustained by respondents, as dependents and intestate heirs of the deceased. This consists not of the full amount of his earnings, but of the support which they received or would have received from him had he not died as a consequence of the negligent act. Thus, the amount recoverable is not the loss of the victim’s entire earnings, but rather the loss of that portion of the earnings which the beneficiary would have received.

Indemnity for loss of earning capacity is determined by computing the net earning capacity of the victim as follows:

Net Earning Capacity = life expectancy x (gross annual income -reasonable and necessary living expenses).

Life expectancy shall be computed by applying the formula (2/3 x [80 – age at death]) adopted from the American Expectancy Table of Mortality or the Actuarial of Combined Experience Table of Mortality. On the other hand, gross annual income requires the presentation of documentary evidence for the purpose of proving the victim’s annual income. The victim’s heirs presented in evidence Señora’s pay slip from the PNP, showing him to have had a gross monthly salary of P12,754.00. Meanwhile, the victim’s net income was correctly pegged at 50% of his gross income in the absence of proof as regards the victim’s living expenses. Constancia G. Tamayo, et al. vs. Rosalia Abad Señora, et al., G.R. No. 176946, November 15, 2010.

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September 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected September 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Assignment of credits. Was Reyes’ sale of the property to the Vegas binding on PDC (one of Reyes’ creditors) which tried to enforce the judgment credit against Reyes in its favor on the property? The CA ruled that Reyes’ assignment of the property to the Vegas did not bind PDC, which had a judgment credit against Reyes, since such assignment neither appeared in a public document nor was registered with the register of deeds as Article 1625 of the Civil Code required. Article 1625 reads:

Art. 1625. An assignment of a credit, right or action shall produce no effect as against third persons, unless it appears in a public instrument, or the instrument is recorded in the Registry of Property in case the assignment involves real property. (1526)

But Article 1625 referred to assignment of credits and other incorporeal rights. Reyes did not assign any credit or incorporeal right to the Vegas. She sold the Vegas her house and lot. They became owner of the property from the time she executed the deed of assignment covering the same in their favor. PDC had a judgment for money against Reyes only. A court’s power to enforce its judgment applies only to the properties that are indisputably owned by the judgment obligor. Here, the property had long ceased to belong to Reyes when she sold it to the Vegas in 1981. Sps. Antonio and Leticia Vega vs. Social Security System, et al., G.R. No. 181672, September 20, 2010

Attorney’s fees. Article 2208(2) of the Civil Code allows the award of attorney’s fees in cases where the defendant’s act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest. Attorney’s fees may be awarded by a court to one who was compelled to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his or her interest by reason of an unjustified act or omission of the party from whom it is sought. Metropolitan Bank & trust Company, Inc. vs. The Board of Trustees of Riverside Mills Corp. Provident and Retirement Fund, et al., G.R. No. 176959, September 8, 2010

Conjugal property and sale thereof; various rules. (1) What law applies to a sale or purported sale of a conjugal property entered into after the Family Code’s effectivity? The Family Code, even if the couple owning the conjugal property were married before the Family Code took effect. (2) Under the Family Code, conjugal property can only be sold with the consent of both spouses. (3) For a buyer of conjugal property to be considered a purchaser in good faith, he must observe two kinds of requisite diligence, namely: (a) the diligence in verifying the validity of the title covering the property; and (b) the diligence in inquiring into the authority of the transacting spouse to sell conjugal property in behalf of the other spouse. Sps. Rex and Concepcion Aggabao vs. Dionisio Z. Parulan, Jr. and Ma. Elena Parulan, G.R. No. 165803, September 1, 2010.

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April 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected April 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Agency; sale of land by an unauthorized agent. Respondent sold land owned by her daughter without any written authority. Article 1874 of the Civil Code explicitly requires a written authority before an agent can sell an immovable property. Based on a review of the records, there is absolutely no proof of respondent’s written authority to sell the lot to petitioners. In fact, during the pre-trial conference, petitioners admitted that at the time of the negotiation for the sale of the lot, petitioners were of the belief that respondent was the owner of lot. Consequently, the sale of the lot by respondent who did not have a written authority from the real owner is void. A void contract produces no effect either against or in favor of anyone and cannot be ratified.  Sps. Joselina Alcantara and Antonio Alcantara, et al. vs. Brigida L. Nido, as attorney-in-fact of Revelen Srivastava, G.R. No. 165133, April 19, 2010.

Contracts; breach of; rebus sic stantibus. See Daniel T. So vs. Food Fest Land, Inc./Food Fest Land, Inc. vs. Daniel T. SoG.R. Nos. 183628 & 183670, April 7, 2010, below.

Contracts; void and voidable; prescription. See Manuel O. Fuentes, et al. vs. Conrado G. Roca, et al., G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010, below.

Damages; actual damages; unrealized profits. Food Fest leased property from So. Food Fest sought to pre-terminate the lease. So sued Food Fest for ejection, payment of arrears and damages. On the matter of damages, So claims that Food Fest did not exercise care in removing the installations and fixtures, thereby causing destruction to the premises to thus entitle him to damages, as well as to damages corresponding to unrealized profits (lucrum cessans) to answer for the period during which the unit was not rented out.

Unrealized profits fall under the category of actual or compensatory damages. If there exists a basis for a reasonable expectation that profits would have continued to be generated had there been no breach of contract, indemnification for damages based on such expected profits is proper.  This is, however, subject to the rule that a party is entitled to an adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proved. Other than the photographs evincing damage to the premises, no evidence was proffered to show So’s entitlement to unrealized profits. That the leased unit was not subsequently leased is not solely attributable to Food Fest. As borne by the records, no renovation was undertaken by So for almost three years following Food Fest’s vacation of the premises in 2001. The quotations issued by construction companies for purposes of renovation were issued only in 2004. However, So may seek damages pursuant to the contract.

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March 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected March 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Conjugal partnership; effects of legal separation; forfeiture of share in profits. Among the effects of the decree of legal separation is that the conjugal partnership is dissolved and liquidated and the offending spouse would have no right to any share of the net profits earned by the conjugal partnership. Thus it is only the offending spouse’s share in the net profits, and not the share in the property, which is forfeited. Article 102(4) of the Family Code provides that “[f]or purposes of computing the net profits subject to forfeiture in accordance with Article 43, No. (2) and 63, No. (2), the said profits shall be the increase in value between the market value of the community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at the time of its dissolution.” Mario Siochi vs. Alfredo Gozon, et al./Inter-Dimensional Realty, Inc. Vs. Mario Siochi, et al., G.R. No. 169900/G.R. No. 169977, March 18, 2010

Conjugal partnership; presumption of conjugal nature; need for marital consent. The Civil Code of the Philippines, the law in force at the time of the celebration of the marriage between Martha and Manuel in 1957, provides all property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife. This includes property which is acquired by onerous title during the marriage at the expense of the common fund, whether the acquisition be for the partnership, or for only one of the spouses. The court is not persuaded by Titan’s arguments that the property was Martha’s exclusive property because Manuel failed to present before the RTC any proof of his income in 1970, hence he could not have had the financial capacity to contribute to the purchase of the property in 1970; and that Manuel admitted that it was Martha who concluded the original purchase of the property.  In consonance with its ruling in Spouses Castro v. Miat, Manuel was not required to prove that the property was acquired with funds of the partnership. Rather, the presumption applies even when the manner in which the property was acquired does not appear.  Here, we find that Titan failed to overturn the presumption that the property, purchased during the spouses’ marriage, was part of the conjugal partnership. Since the property was undoubtedly part of the conjugal partnership, the sale to Titan required the consent of both spouses.  Article 165 of the Civil Code expressly provides that “the husband is the administrator of the conjugal partnership”.  Likewise, Article 172 of the Civil Code ordains that “(t)he wife cannot bind the conjugal partnership without the husband’s consent, except in cases provided by law”. Titan Construction Corporation Vs. Manuel A. David, Sr. and Martha S. David, G.R. No. 169548, March 15, 2010.

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December 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected December 2009 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law and related laws:

Agency; agency by estoppel. An agency by estoppel, which is similar to the doctrine of apparent authority requires proof of reliance upon the representations, and that, in turn, needs proof that the representations predated the action taken in reliance.

There can be no apparent authority of an agent without acts or conduct on the part of the principal and such acts or conduct of the principal must have been known and relied upon in good faith and as a result of the exercise of reasonable prudence by a third person as claimant, and such must have produced a change of position to its detriment. Such proof is lacking in this case.  Yun Kwan Byung vs. Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation, G.R. No. 163553, December 11, 2009.

Agency; implied agency. Article 1869 of the Civil Code states that implied agency is derived from the acts of the principal, from his silence or lack of action, or his failure to repudiate the agency, knowing that another person is acting on his behalf without authority. Implied agency, being an actual agency, is a fact to be proved by deductions or inferences from other facts.

On the other hand, apparent authority is based on estoppel and can arise from two instances. First, the principal may knowingly permit the agent to hold himself out as having such authority, and the principal becomes estopped to claim that the agent does not have such authority. Second, the principal may clothe the agent with the indicia of authority as to lead a reasonably prudent person to believe that the agent actually has such authority. In an agency by estoppel, there is no agency at all, but the one assuming to act as agent has apparent or ostensible, although not real, authority to represent another.

The law makes no presumption of agency and proving its existence, nature and extent is incumbent upon the person alleging it. Whether or not an agency has been created is a question to be determined by the fact that one represents and is acting for another. Yun Kwan Byung vs. Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation, G.R. No. 163553, December 11, 2009.

Agency;  implied agency. The basis for agency is representation, that is, the agent acts for and on behalf of the principal on matters within the scope of his authority and said acts have the same legal effect as if they were personally executed by the principal. On the part of the principal, there must be an actual intention to appoint or an intention naturally inferable from his words or actions, while on the part of the agent, there must be an intention to accept the appointment and act on it. Absent such mutual intent, there is generally no agency.

There is no implied agency in this case because PAGCOR did not hold out to the public as the principal of ABS Corporation. PAGCOR’s actions did not mislead the public into believing that an agency can be implied from the arrangement with the junket operators, nor did it hold out ABS Corporation with any apparent authority to represent it in any capacity. The Junket Agreement was merely a contract of lease of facilities and services.  Yun Kwan Byung vs. Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation, G.R. No. 163553, December 11, 2009.

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November 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected November 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on civil law and related laws:

Civil Code

Contract;  contract of adhesion.     A contract of adhesion is defined as one in which one of the parties imposes a ready-made form of contract, which the other party may accept or reject, but which the latter cannot modify. One party prepares the stipulation in the contract, while the other party merely affixes his signature or his “adhesion” thereto, giving no room for negotiation and depriving the latter of the opportunity to bargain on equal footing. Contracts of adhesion are not invalid per se.  Contracts of adhesion, where one party imposes a ready-made form of contract on the other, are not entirely prohibited. The one who adheres to the contract is, in reality, free to reject it entirely; if he adheres, he gives his consent.  Norton Resources and Development Corporation vs. All Asia Bank Corporation, G.R. No. 162523. November 25, 2009

Contract;  freedom of contract. Petitioners allege that the Kasulatan was entered into by the parties freely and voluntarily. They maintain that there was already a meeting of the minds between the parties as regards the principal amount of the loan, the interest thereon and the property given as security for the payment of the loan, which must be complied with in good faith. Hence, they assert that the Court of Appeals should have given due respect to the provisions of the Kasulatan. They also stress that it is a settled principle that the law will not relieve a party from the effects of an unwise, foolish or disastrous contract, entered into with all the required formalities and with full awareness of what he was doing.

Petitioners’ contentions deserve scant consideration. In Abe v. Foster Wheeler Corporation, we held that the freedom of contract is not absolute. The same is understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, morals, safety and welfare. One such legislative regulation is found in Article 1306 of the Civil Code which allows the contracting parties to “establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy.”

To reiterate, we fully agree with the Court of Appeals in holding that the compounded interest rate of 5% per month, is iniquitous and unconscionable. Being a void stipulation, it is deemed inexistent from the beginning. The debt is to be considered without the stipulation of the iniquitous and unconscionable interest rate. Accordingly, the legal interest of 12% per annum must be imposed in lieu of the excessive interest stipulated in the agreement, in line with our ruling in Ruiz v. Court of Appeals.  Sps. Isagani & Diosdada Castro vs. Angelina de Leon Tan, G.R. No. 168940, November 24, 2009.

Contract; laches. The essence of laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, through due diligence, could have been done earlier, thus giving rise to a presumption that the party entitled to assert it had either abandoned or declined to assert it.

Respondent discovered in 1991 that a new owner’s copy of OCT No. 535 was issued to the Eniceo heirs. Respondent filed a criminal case against the Eniceo heirs for false testimony. When respondent learned that the Eniceo heirs were planning to sell the Antipolo property, respondent caused the annotation of an adverse claim. On 16 January 1996, when respondent learned that OCT No. 535 was cancelled and new TCTs were issued, respondent filed a civil complaint with the trial court against the Eniceo heirs and petitioner. Respondent’s actions negate petitioner’s argument that respondent is guilty of laches.  Kings Properties Corporation, Inc. vs. Canuto A. Galido, G.R. No. 170023. November 27, 2009

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