Here are selected January 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law and related laws:
Agency; principle of undisclosed principal. It is a general rule in the law of agency that, in order to bind the principal by a mortgage on real property executed by an agent, it must upon its face purport to be made, signed and sealed in the name of the principal, otherwise, it will bind the agent only. It is not enough merely that the agent was in fact authorized to make the mortgage, if he has not acted in the name of the principal. Neither is it ordinarily sufficient that in the mortgage the agent describes himself as acting by virtue of a power of attorney, if in fact the agent has acted in his own name and has set his own hand and seal to the mortgage. This is especially true where the agent himself is a party to the instrument. However clearly the body of the mortgage may show and intend that it shall be the act of the principal, yet, unless in fact it is executed by the agent for and on behalf of his principal and as the act and deed of the principal, it is not valid as to the principal. Far East Bank and Trust Company (Now Bank of the Philippine Islands) and Rolando Borja, Deputy Sherrif vs. Sps. Ernesto and Leonor C. Cayetano, G.R. No. 179909, January 25, 2010.
Contract; element of consent; causal fraud. In order that fraud may vitiate consent to a contract, it must be the causal (dolo causante), not merely the incidental (dolo incidente), inducement to the making of the contract. Additionally, the fraud must be serious. In this case, causal fraud necessary to justify the annulment of the contract of sale between the parties was absent. It is clear from the records that petitioners agreed to sell their property to the buyers. The petitioners’ belief that the fraud employed by the buyers was “already operational at the time of the perfection of the contract of sale” is incorrect. The Buyers’ misrepresentation — that the postdated check (covering the purchase price for the property) would not bounce on its maturity — hardly equates to dolo causante. The buyers’ assurance that the check issued was fully funded was not the principal inducement for the petitioners to sign the Deed of Absolute Sale. Even before the buyers issued the check, the parties had already consented and agreed to the sale transaction. The petitioners were never tricked into selling their property to the buyer. On the contrary, they willingly accepted his offer to purchase the property at P3,000,000. In short, there was a meeting of the minds as to the object of the sale as well as the consideration therefor. Spouses Carmen Tongson and Jose Tongson vs. Emergency Pawnshop Bula, Inc. et al., G.R. No. 167874, January 15, 2010.
Contract; interpretation. There is nothing in the subject Extrajudicial Settlement to indicate any express stipulation for petitioner and respondents to continue with their supposed co-ownership of the contested lot. On the contrary, a plain reading of the provisions of the Extrajudicial Settlement would not, in any way, support petitioner’s contention that it was his and his sibling’s intention to buy the subject property from the Bank and continue what they believed to be co-ownership thereof. It is a cardinal rule in the interpretation of contracts that the intention of the parties shall be accorded primordial consideration. It is the duty of the courts to place a practical and realistic construction upon it, giving due consideration to the context in which it is negotiated and the purpose which it is intended to serve. Such intention is determined from the express terms of their agreement, as well as their contemporaneous and subsequent acts. Absurd and illogical interpretations should also be avoided. Petitioner’s contention that he and his siblings intended to continue their supposed co-ownership of the subject property contradicts the provisions of the subject Extrajudicial Settlement where they clearly manifested their intention of having the subject property divided or partitioned by assigning to each of the petitioner and respondents a specific 1/3 portion of the same. Partition calls for the segregation and conveyance of a determinate portion of the property owned in common. It seeks a severance of the individual interests of each co-owner, vesting in each of them a sole estate in a specific property and giving each one a right to enjoy his estate without supervision or interference from the other. In other words, the purpose of partition is to put an end to co-ownership, an objective which negates petitioner’s claims in the present case. Celestino Balus vs. Saturnino Balus and Leonarda Balus vda. De Calunod, G.R. No. 168970, January 15, 2010.