December 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select December 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Damages; When Applicable. It is essential that for damages to be awarded, a claimant must satisfactorily prove during the trial that they have a factual basis, and that the defendant’s acts have a causal connection to them. Article 2229 of the Civil Code provides that exemplary damages may be imposed “by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.” They are, however, not recoverable as a matter of right. They are awarded only if the guilty party acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner. Albert M. Ching, et al. vs. Felix M. Bantolo, et al.; G.R. No. 177086. December 5, 2012

Sale of Real Property; Must be in a Public Document; requirement only for convenience. Article 1358 of the Civil Code provides that acts and contracts which have for their object the transmission of real rights over immovable property or the sale of real property must appear in a public document. If the law requires a document or other special form, the contracting parties may compel each other to observe that form, once the contract has been perfected. In Fule v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that Article 1358 of the Civil Code, which requires the embodiment of certain contracts in a public instrument, is only for convenience, and registration of the instrument only adversely affects third parties. Formal requirements are, therefore, for the benefit of third parties. Non-compliance therewith does not adversely affect the validity of the contract nor the contractual rights and obligations of the parties thereunder. Lagrimas de Jesus Zamora v. Spouses Beatriz Zamora et al., G.R. No. 162930. December 5, 2012.

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October 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select October 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Assignment of credit; dation in payment. An assignment of credit is an agreement by virtue of which the owner of a credit, known as the assignor, by a legal cause, such as sale, dation in payment, exchange or donation, and without the consent of the debtor, transfers his credit and accessory rights to another, known as the assignee, who acquires the power to enforce it to the same extent as the assignor could enforce it against the debtor. It may be in the form of sale, but at times it may constitute a dation in payment, such as when a debtor, in order to obtain a release from his debt, assigns to his creditor a credit he has against a third person. As a dation in payment, the assignment of credit operates as a mode of extinguishing the obligation; the delivery and transmission of ownership of a thing (in this case, the credit due from a third person) by the debtor to the creditor is accepted as the equivalent of the performance of the obligation.

The terms of the compromise judgment of the parties, however, did not convey an intent to equate the assignment of Magdalena’s retirement benefits as the equivalent of the payment of the debt due the spouses Serfino. There was actually no assignment of credit; if at all, the compromise judgment merely identified the fund from which payment for the judgment debt would be sourced. Only when Magdalena has received and turned over to the spouses Serfino the portion of her retirement benefits corresponding to the debt due would the debt be deemed paid. Since no valid assignment of credit took place, the spouses Serfino cannot validly claim ownership of the retirement benefits that were deposited with FEBTC. Without ownership rights over the amount, they suffered no pecuniary loss that has to be compensated by actual damages. Sps. Godfrey and Gerardina Serfino vs. Far East Bank and Trust Company, Inc., now Bank of the Philippine Islands.G.R. No. 171845. October 10, 2012

Compromise agreement; relation to original agreement; interest. Petitioner argues that the compromise agreement created an obligation separate from the original loan, for which respondent is now liable. By stating that the compromise agreement and the original loan transaction are distinct, petitioner would now attempt to exact payment on both. This goes against the very purpose of the parties entering into a compromise agreement, which was to extinguish the obligation under the loan. Petitioner may not seek the enforcement of both the compromise agreement and payment of the loan, even in the event that the compromise agreement remains unfulfilled.

The Court had previously tagged a 5% monthly interest rate agreed upon as “excessive, iniquitous, unconscionable and exorbitant, contrary to morals, and the law.” We need not unsettle the principle we had affirmed in a plethora of cases that stipulated interest rates of 3% per month and higher are excessive, iniquitous, unconscionable, and exorbitant. Arthur F. Mechavez vs. Marlyn M, Bermudez G.R. No. 185368. October 11, 2012

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September 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select September 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Contracts; capacity. Contracting parties must be juristic entities at the time of the consummation of the contract. Stated otherwise, to form a valid and legal agreement it is necessary that there be a party capable of contracting and a party capable of being contracted with. Hence, if any one party to a supposed contract was already dead at the time of its execution, such contract is undoubtedly simulated and false and, therefore, null and void by reason of its having been made after the death of the party who appears as one of the contracting parties therein. The death of a person terminates contractual capacity. De Belen Vda. de Cabalu, et al. v. Tabu, et al.; G.R. No. 188417. September 24, 2012

Contracts; future inheritance; contractual capacity – Under Article 1347 of the Civil Code, no contract may be entered into upon future inheritance except in cases expressly authorized by law. Paragraph 2 of Article 1347 characterizes a contract entered into upon future inheritance as void. The law applies when the following requisites concur: (1) the succession has not yet been opened; (2) the object of the contract forms part of the inheritance; and (3) the promissor has, with respect to the object, an expectancy of a right which is purely hereditary in nature. De Belen Vda. de Cabalu, et al. v. Tabu, et al.; G.R. No. 188417. September 24, 2012

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July 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select July 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Contracts; reciprocal obligations. Reciprocal obligations are those which arise from the same cause, and in which each party is a debtor and a creditor of the other, such that the obligation of one is dependent upon the obligation of the other. They are to be performed simultaneously such that the performance of one is conditioned upon the simultaneous fulfillment of the other. For one party to demand the performance of the obligation of the other party, the former must also perform its own obligation. Accordingly, petitioner, not having provided the services that would require the payment of service fees as stipulated in the Lease Development Agreement, is not entitled to collect the same. Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority vs. Honorable Court of Appeals and Subic International Hotel Corporation; G.R. No. 192885, July 4, 2012.

Contracts; contract of sale vs. contract to sell. The elements of a contract of sale are, to wit: a) Consent or meeting of the minds, that is, consent to transfer ownership in exchange for the price; b) Determinate subject matter; and c) Price certain in money or its equivalent.  It is the absence of the first element which distinguishes a contract of sale from that of a contract to sell.

In a contract to sell, the prospective seller explicitly reserves the transfer of title to the prospective buyer, meaning, the prospective seller does not as yet agree or consent to transfer ownership of the property subject of the contract to sell until the happening of an event, such as, in most cases, the full payment of the purchase price. What the seller agrees or obliges himself to do is to fulfill his promise to sell the subject property when the entire amount of the purchase price is delivered to him. In other words, the full payment of the purchase price partakes of a suspensive condition, the non-fulfillment of which prevents the obligation to sell from arising and, thus, ownership is retained by the prospective seller without further remedies by the prospective buyer.

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June 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select June 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Agency; ratification. The complaint was anchored on the supposed failure of FEBTC to duly investigate the authority of Antonio in contracting the “exceptionally and relatively immense” loans amounting to P5,000,000.00. Marcos alleged therein that his property had thereby become “unlawfully burdened by unauthorized real estate mortgage contracts,” because the loans and the mortgage contracts had been incurred by Antonio and his wife only for themselves, to the exclusion of petitioner. Yet, Marcos could not deny that under the express terms of the SPA, he had precisely granted to Antonio as his agent the authority to borrow money, and to transfer and convey the property by way of mortgage to FEBTC; to sign, execute and deliver promissory notes; and to receive the proceeds of the loans on the former’s behalf. In other words, the mortgage contracts were valid and enforceable against petitioner, who was consequently fully bound by their terms.

Moreover, even if it was assumed that Antonio’s obtaining the loans in his own name, and executing the mortgage contracts also in his own name had exceeded his express authority under the SPA, Marcos was still liable to FEBTC by virtue of his express ratification of Antonio’s act. Under Article 1898 of the Civil Code, the acts of an agent done beyond the scope of his authority do not bind the principal unless the latter expressly or impliedly ratifies the same.

In agency, ratification is the adoption or confirmation by one person of an act performed on his behalf by another without authority. The substance of ratification is the confirmation after the act, amounting to a substitute for a prior authority. Here, there was such a ratification by Marcos, as borne out by his execution of the letter of acknowledgement on September 12, 1996.

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June 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

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

Civil Code

Agency; agency by estoppel. The doctrine of estoppel is based upon the grounds of public policy, fair dealing, good faith and justice, and its purpose is to forbid one to speak against his own act, representations, or commitments to the injury of one to whom they were directed and who reasonably relied thereon. The doctrine of estoppel springs from equitable principles and the equities in the case. It is designed to aid the law in the administration of justice where without its aid injustice might result. It has been applied by this Court wherever and whenever special circumstances of a case so demand.

Based on the events and circumstances surrounding the issuance of the assailed orders, this Court rules that MEGAN is estopped from assailing both the authority of Atty. Sabig and the jurisdiction of the RTC. While it is true, as claimed by MEGAN, that Atty. Sabig said in court that he was only appearing for the hearing of Passi Sugar’s motion for intervention and not for the case itself, his subsequent acts, coupled with MEGAN’s inaction and negligence to repudiate his authority, effectively bars MEGAN from assailing the validity of the RTC proceedings under the principle of estoppel. Megan Sugar Corporation v. Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Br. 68, Dumangas, Iloilo; New Frontier Sugar Corp., et al.,  G.R. No. 170352. June 1, 2011

Agency; doctrine of apparent authority. The Court finds that the signature of Abcede is sufficient to bind PRHC. As its construction manager, his very act of signing a letter embodying the P 36 million escalation agreement produced legal effect, even if there was a blank space for a higher officer of PHRC to indicate approval thereof. At the very least, he indicated authority to make such representation on behalf of PRHC. On direct examination, Abcede admitted that, as the construction manager, he represented PRHC in running its affairs with regard to the execution of the aforesaid projects. Abcede had signed, on behalf of PRHC, other documents that were almost identical to the questioned letter-agreement. PRHC does not question the validity of these agreements; it thereby effectively admits that this individual had actual authority to sign on its behalf with respect to these construction projects. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp. vs. Ley Const. and Dev. Corp./Ley Cons. and Dev. Corp. vs. Philippine Realty and Holding Corp., G.R. No. 165548/G.R. No. 167879. June 13, 2011

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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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