January 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

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

Corporations; power of bank employee to bind bank. Even assuming that the bank officer or employee whom petitioner claimed he had talked to regarding the March 22, 1984 letter had acceded to his own modified terms for the repurchase, their supposed verbal exchange did not bind respondent bank in view of its corporate nature. There was no evidence that said Mr. Lazaro or Mr. Fajardo was authorized by respondent bank’s Board of Directors to accept petitioner’s counter-proposal to repurchase the foreclosed properties at the price and terms other than those communicated in the March 22, 1984 letter. As this Court ruled in AF Realty & Development, Inc. v. Dieselman Freight Services, Co.:

Section 23 of the Corporation Code expressly provides that the corporate powers of all corporations shall be exercised by the board of directors. Just as a natural person may authorize another to do certain acts in his behalf, so may the board of directors of a corporation validly delegate some of its functions to individual officers or agents appointed by it. Thus, contracts or acts of a corporation must be made either by the board of directors or by a corporate agent duly authorized by the board. Absent such valid  delegation/authorization, the rule is that the declarations of an individual director relating to the affairs of the corporation, but not in the course of, or connected with, the performance of authorized duties of such director, are held not binding on the corporation.

Thus, a corporation can only execute its powers and transact its business through its Board of Directors and through its officers and agents when authorized by a board resolution or its by-laws.

In the absence of conformity or acceptance by properly authorized bank officers of petitioner’s counter-proposal, no perfected repurchase contract was born out of the talks or negotiations between petitioner and Mr. Lazaro and Mr. Fajardo. Petitioner therefore had no legal right to compel respondent bank to accept the P600,000 being tendered by him as payment for the supposed balance of repurchase price. Heirs of Fausto C. Ignacio vs. Home Bankers Savings and Trust Co., et al., G.R. No. 177783. January 23, 2013.

Dissolution; continuation of business.  Section 122 of the Corporation Code prohibits a dissolved corporation from continuing its business, but allows it to continue with a limited personality in order to settle and close its affairs, including its complete liquidation. Thus:

Sec. 122. Corporate liquidation. – Every corporation whose charter expires by its own limitation or is annulled by forfeiture or otherwise, or whose corporate existence for other purposes is terminated in any other manner, shall nevertheless be continued as a body corporate for three (3) years after the time when it would have been so dissolved, for the purpose of prosecuting and defending suits by or against it and enabling it to settle and close its affairs, to dispose of and convey its property and to distribute its assets, but not for the purpose of continuing the business for which it was established. (emphasis supplied)

The Court fails to find in the prayers any intention to continue the corporate business of FQB+7. The Complaint does not seek to enter into contracts, issue new stocks, acquire properties, execute business transactions, etc. Its aim is not to continue the corporate business, but to determine and vindicate an alleged stockholder’s right to the return of his stockholdings and to participate in the election of directors, and a corporation’s right to remove usurpers and strangers from its affairs. The Court fails to see how the resolution of these issues can be said to continue the business of FQB+7. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II and Fidel N. Aguirre II and Fidel N. Aguirre vs. FQB+, Inc., Nathaniel D. Bocobo, Priscila Bocobo and Antonio De Villa, G.R. No. 170770. January 9, 2013.

Dissolution; board of directors. A corporation’s board of directors is not rendered functus officio by its dissolution. Since Section 122 allows a corporation to continue its existence for a limited purpose, necessarily there must be a board that will continue acting for and on behalf of the dissolved corporation for that purpose. In fact, Section 122 authorizes the dissolved corporation’s board of directors to conduct its liquidation within three years from its dissolution. Jurisprudence has even recognized the board’s authority to act as trustee for persons in interest beyond the said three-year period. Thus, the determination of which group is the bona fide or rightful board of the dissolved corporation will still provide practical relief to the parties involved. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II and Fidel N. Aguirre II and Fidel N. Aguirre vs. FQB+, Inc., Nathaniel D. Bocobo, Priscila Bocobo and Antonio De Villa, G.R. No. 170770. January 9, 2013.

Dissolution; effect on property rights.  A party’s stockholdings in a corporation, whether existing or dissolved, is a property right which he may vindicate against another party who has deprived him thereof. The corporation’s dissolution does not extinguish such property right. Section 145 of the Corporation Code ensures the protection of this right, thus:

Sec. 145. Amendment or repeal. – No right or remedy in favor of or against any corporation, its stockholders, members, directors, trustees, or officers, nor any liability incurred by any such corporation, stockholders, members, directors, trustees, or officers, shall be removed or impaired either by the subsequent dissolution of said corporation or by any subsequent amendment or repeal of this Code or of any part thereof. (Emphasis supplied.)

Vitaliano N. Aguirre II and Fidel N. Aguirre II and Fidel N. Aguirre vs. FQB+, Inc., Nathaniel D. Bocobo, Priscila Bocobo and Antonio De Villa, G.R. No. 170770. January 9, 2013.

FRIA; retroactive application.  Sec. 146 of the FRIA, which makes it applicable to “all further proceedings in insolvency, suspension of payments and rehabilitation cases x x x except to the extent that in the opinion of the court their application would not be feasible or would work injustice,” still presupposes a prospective application. The wording of the law clearly shows that it is applicable to all further proceedings. In no way could it be made retrospectively applicable to the Stay Order issued by the rehabilitation court back in 2002.

At the time of the issuance of the Stay Order, the rules in force were the 2000 Interim Rules of Procedure on Corporate Rehabilitation (the “Interim Rules”). Under those rules, one of the effects of a Stay Order is the stay of the “enforcement of all claims, whether for money or otherwise and whether such enforcement is by court action or otherwise, against the debtor, its guarantors and sureties not solidarily liable with the debtor.” Nowhere in the Interim Rules is the rehabilitation court authorized to suspend foreclosure proceedings against properties of third-party mortgagors. In fact, we have expressly ruled in Pacific Wide Realty and Development Corp. v. Puerto Azul Land, Inc. that the issuance of a Stay Order cannot suspend the foreclosure of accommodation mortgages. Whether or not the properties subject of the third-party mortgage are used by the debtor corporation or are necessary for its operation is of no moment, as the Interim Rules do not make a distinction. To repeat, when the Stay Order was issued, the rehabilitation court was only empowered to suspend claims against the debtor, its guarantors, and sureties not solidarily liable with the debtor. Thus, it was beyond the jurisdiction of the rehabilitation court to suspend foreclosure proceedings against properties of third-party mortgagors.  Situs Development Corporation, et al.  vs. Asia Trust Bank, et al, G.R. No. 180036, January 16, 2013.

(Hector thanks Patrick Henry D. Salazar for his assistance to Lexoterica.)