February 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

Here are select February 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on commercial law:

Corporation; liability of officers and directors. Basic is the rule in corporation law that a corporation is a juridical entity which is vested with a legal personality separate and distinct from those acting for and in its behalf and, in general, from the people comprising it. Following this principle, obligations incurred by the corporation, acting through its directors, officers and employees, are its sole liabilities. A director, officer or employee of a corporation is generally not held personally liable for obligations incurred by the corporation. Nevertheless, this legal fiction may be disregarded if it is used as a means to perpetrate fraud or an illegal act, or as a vehicle for the evasion of an existing obligation, the circumvention of statutes, or to confuse legitimate issues.

This is consistent with the provisions of the Corporation Code of the Philippines, which states:

Sec. 31. Liability of directors, trustees or officers. – Directors or trustees who wilfully and knowingly vote for or assent to patently unlawful acts of the corporation or who are guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in directing the affairs of the corporation or acquire any personal or pecuniary interest in conflict with their duty as such directors or trustees shall be liable jointly and severally for all damages resulting therefrom suffered by the corporation, its stockholders or members and other persons.

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October 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select October 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Contracts; consequences of breach. Having breached the contract it entered with petitioner, respondent ABB is liable for damages pursuant to Articles 1167, 1170, and 2201 of the Civil Code. Accordingly, a repairman who fails to perform his obligation is liable to pay for the cost of the execution of the obligation plus damages. Though entitled, petitioner in this case is not claiming reimbursement for the repair allegedly done by Newton Contractor, but is instead asking for damages for the delay caused by respondent ABB.

As per Purchase Order Nos. 17136-37, petitioner is entitled to penalties in the amount of P987.25 per day from the time of delay, August 30, 1990, up to the time the Kiln Drive Motor was finally returned to petitioner. Records show that although the testing of Kiln Drive Motor was done on March 13, 1991, the said motor was actually delivered to petitioner as early as January 7, 1991. The installation and testing was done only on March 13, 1991 upon the request of petitioner because the Kiln was under repair at the time the motor was delivered; hence, the load testing had to be postponed.

Under Article 1226 of the Civil Code, the penalty clause takes the place of indemnity for damages and the payment of interests in case of non-compliance with the obligation, unless there is a stipulation to the contrary. In this case, since there is no stipulation to the contrary, the penalty in the amount of P987.25 per day of delay covers all other damages (i.e. production loss, labor cost, and rental of the crane) claimed by petitioner.

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August 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select August 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Contracts; rescission; accion pauliana. Under Article 1381 of the Civil Code, an accion pauliana is an action to rescind contracts in fraud of creditors. However, jurisprudence is clear that the following successive measures must be taken by a creditor before he may bring an action for rescission of an allegedly fraudulent contract: (1) exhaust the properties of the debtor through levying by attachment and execution upon all the property of the debtor, except such as are exempt by law from execution; (2) exercise all the rights and actions of the debtor, save those personal to him (accion subrogatoria); and (3) seek rescission of the contracts executed by the debtor in fraud of their rights (accion pauliana). It is thus apparent that an action to rescind, or an accion pauliana, must be of last resort, availed of only after the creditor has exhausted all the properties of the debtor not exempt from execution or after all other legal remedies have been exhausted and have been proven futile.

It does not appear that Metrobank sought other properties of SSC other than the subject lots alleged to have been transferred in fraud of creditors. Neither is there any showing that Metrobank subrogated itself in SSC’s transmissible rights and actions. Without availing of the first and second remedies, Metrobank simply undertook the third measure and filed an action for annulment of the chattel mortgages. This cannot be done. Article 1383 of the New Civil Code is very explicit that the right or remedy of the creditor to impugn the acts which the debtor may have done to defraud them is subsidiary in nature. It can only be availed of in the absence of any other legal remedy to obtain reparation for the injury. This fact is not present in this case. No evidence was presented nor even an allegation was offered to show that Metrobank had availed of the abovementioned remedies before it tried to question the validity of the contracts of chattel mortgage between IEB and SSC. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, substituted by Meridian Corporation vs. International Exchange Bank/Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing vs. International Exchange Bank; G.R. No. 176008/G.R. No. 176131, August 10, 2011.

Co-ownership. Article 484 of the Civil Code which defines co-ownership, states:

Art. 484. There is co-ownership whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons. . .

In the present case, petitioners insist that their predecessor-in-interest Lun co-owned the Gubat and Barcelona properties with his brother Fieng. To prove co-ownership over the Gubat property, petitioners presented: (1) tax declarations from 1929 to 1983 under the name of Fieng but paid by Lun; (2) the renewal certificate from Malayan Insurance Company Inc.; (3) the insurance contract; and (4) the statements of account from Supreme Insurance Underwriters which named Lun as administrator of the property. Likewise, to prove their right over the Barcelona property as legal heirs under intestate succession, petitioners presented a Deed of Sale dated 24 August 1923 between Chaco, as buyer, and Gabriel Gredona and Engracia Legata, as sellers, involving a price consideration of P1,200.

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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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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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July 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

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

Civil Code

Agency; doctrine of apparent authority. The doctrine of apparent authority in respect of government contracts, has been restated to mean that the government is NOT bound by unauthorized acts of its agents, even though within the apparent scope of their authority. Under the law on agency, however, “apparent authority” is defined as the power to affect the legal relations of another person by transactions with third persons arising from the other’s manifestations to such third person such that the liability of the principal for the acts and contracts of his agent extends to those which are within the apparent scope of the authority conferred on him, although no actual authority to do such acts or to make such contracts has been conferred.

Apparent authority, or what is sometimes referred to as the “holding out” theory, or doctrine of ostensible agency, imposes liability, not as the result of the reality of a contractual relationship, but rather because of the actions of a principal or an employer in somehow misleading the public into believing that the relationship or the authority exists. The existence of apparent authority may be ascertained through (1) the general manner in which the corporation holds out an officer or agent as having the power to act or, in other words, the apparent authority to act in general, with which it clothes him; or (2) the acquiescence in his acts of a particular nature, with actual or constructive knowledge thereof, whether within or beyond the scope of his ordinary powers. It requires presentation of evidence of similar act(s) executed either in its favor or in favor of other parties.

Easily discernible from the foregoing is that apparent authority is determined only by the acts of the principal and not by the acts of the agent. The principal is, therefore, not responsible where the agent’s own conduct and statements have created the apparent authority.

In this case, not a single act of respondent, acting through its Board of Directors, was cited as having clothed its general manager with apparent authority to execute the contract with it. Sargasso Construction & Development Corporation / Pick & Shovel, Inc./Atlantic Erectors, Inc./ Joint Venture vs. Philippine Ports Authority, G.R. No. 170530, July 5, 2010.

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June 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

Here are selected June 2010 decisions of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on tax law:

Court of Tax Appeals; factual findings final, binding and conclusive. The factual findings of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), a special court exercising expertise on the subject of tax, are generally regarded as final, binding and conclusive upon the Supreme Court, especially if these are substantially similar to the findings of the Court of Appeals (CA) which is normally the final arbiter of questions of fact. Miguel G. Osorio Pension Foundation, Incorporated vs Court of Appeals and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 162175, June 28, 2010.

Court of Tax Appeals; factual findings final, binding and conclusive; exceptions. Recognized exceptions to the rule that the factual findings are final, binding and conclusive are: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in makings its findings the CA went beyond the issues of the case; or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellee and the appellant; (7) when the findings are contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; or (11) when the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion. Miguel G. Osorio Pension Foundation, Incorporated vs Court of Appeals and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 162175, June 28, 2010.

Employees’ trust fund; no estoppel in favor of BIR. An employees’ trust fund is not estopped from proving its ownership over a lot held in trust by, and titled in the name of, another when the purpose is not to contest the disposition or encumbrance of the property in favor of an innocent third-party purchaser for value. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), not being a buyer or claimant to any interest in the lot, has not relied on the fact of the title of the lot to acquire any interest in it. Thus, there is no basis for the BIR to claim that the trustee of employees’ trust fund is estopped from proving that it co-owns the lot.  Miguel G. Osorio Pension Foundation, Incorporated vs Court of Appeals and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 162175, June 28, 2010.

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