January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

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

Civil Code

Common carriers; standard of diligence. Under Article 1732 of the Civil Code, common carriers are persons, corporations, firms, or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passenger or goods, or both by land, water or air for compensation, offering their services to the public. A common carrier is distinguished from a private carrier wherein the carriage is generally undertaken by special agreement and it does not hold itself out to carry goods for the general public.  The distinction is significant in the sense that the rights and obligations of the parties to a contract of private carriage are governed principally by their stipulations, not by the law on common carriers.

Loadmasters and Glodel, being both common carriers, are mandated from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, to observe the extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods transported by them according to all the circumstances of such case, as required by Article 1733 of the Civil Code.  When the Court speaks of extraordinary diligence, it is that extreme measure of care and caution which persons of unusual prudence and circumspection observe for securing and preserving their own property or rights.  This exacting standard imposed on common carriers in a contract of carriage of goods is intended to tilt the scales in favor of the shipper who is at the mercy of the common carrier once the goods have been lodged for shipment. Thus, in case of loss of the goods, the common carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently. This presumption of fault or negligence, however, may be rebutted by proof that the common carrier has observed extraordinary diligence over the goods.

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October 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

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

Agency. The sale of the DMCI shares made by EIB is null and void for lack of authority to do so, for petitioners never gave their consent or permission to the sale. Moreover, Article 1881 of the Civil Code provides that “the agent must act within the scope of his authority.” Pursuant to the authority given by the principal, the agent is granted the right “to affect the legal relations of his principal by the performance of acts effectuated in accordance with the principal’s manifestation of consent.”  In the case at bar, the scope of authority of EIB as agent of petitioners is “to retain, apply, sell or dispose of all or any of the client’s [petitioners’] property,” if all or any indebtedness or other obligations of petitioners to EIB are not discharged in full by petitioners “when due or on demand in or towards the payment and discharge of such obligation or liability.” The right to sell or dispose of the properties of petitioners by EIB is unequivocally confined to payment of the obligations and liabilities of petitioners to EIB and none other. Thus, when EIB sold the DMCI shares to buy back the KKP shares, it paid the proceeds to the vendees of said shares, the act of which is clearly an obligation to a third party and, hence, is beyond the ambit of its authority as agent. Such act is surely illegal and does not bind petitioners as principals of EIB. Pacific Rehouse Corporation, et al. vs. EIB Securities, Inc.;G.R. No. 184036, October 13, 2010.

Attorney’s fees. It is settled that the award of attorney’s fees is the exception rather than the general rule; counsel’s fees are not awarded every time a party prevails in a suit because of the policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate. Attorney’s fees, as part of damages, are not necessarily equated to the amount paid by a litigant to a lawyer. In the ordinary sense, attorney’s fees represent the reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer by his client for the legal services he has rendered to the latter; while in its extraordinary concept, they may be awarded by the court as indemnity for damages to be paid by the losing party to the prevailing party. Attorney’s fees as part of damages are awarded only in the instances specified in Article 2208 of the Civil Code. As such, it is necessary for the court to make findings of fact and law that would bring the case within the ambit of these enumerated instances to justify the grant of such award, and in all cases it must be reasonable. Filomena R. Benedicto vs. Antonio Villaflores; G.R. No. 185020. October 6, 2010.

Attorney’s fees. We have stressed that the award of attorney’s fees is the exception rather than the rule, as they are not always awarded every time a party prevails in a suit because of the policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate.  Attorney’s fees as part of damages is awarded only in the instances specified in Article 2208 of the Civil Code. Financial Building Corporation vs. Rudlin International Corporation, et al./Rudlin International Corporation, et al.  vs. Financial Building Corporation; G.R. No. 164186/G.R. No. 164347. October 4, 2010.

Attorney’s fees. An award of attorney’s fees is the exception rather than the rule.  The right to litigate is so precious that a penalty should not be charged on those who may exercise it erroneously.  It is not given merely because the defendant prevails and the action is later declared to be unfounded unless there was a deliberate intent to cause prejudice to the other party. Spouses Ramy and Zenaida Pudadera vs. Ireneo Magallanes and the late Daisy Teresa cortel Magallanes, substituted by her children, Nelly M. Marquez, et al.;G.R. No. 170073, October 18, 2010.

Compensation; partial set-off. Under the circumstances, fairness and reason dictate that we simply order the set-off of the petitioners’ contractual liabilities totaling P575,922.13 against the repair cost for the defective gutter, pegged at P717,524.00, leaving the amount of P141,601.87 still due from the respondent. Support in law for this ruling for partial legal compensation proceeds from Articles 1278, 1279, 1281, and 1283 of the Civil Code. In short, both parties are creditors and debtors of each other, although in different amounts that are already due and demandable. Spouses Victoriano chung and Debbie Chung vs. Ulanday Construction, Inc.;G.R. No. 156038, October 11, 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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Something into Nothing: The Peril of Not Accepting A Donation Promptly

The donee’s non-acceptance (or belated acceptance) of a donation will make the donation invalid.

Sometime in 1985, a certain Esperanza Maglunob-Dalisan executed an Affidavit dated June 9, 1986 (the Affidavit) whereby she “renounced, relinquished, waived and quitclaimed all her rights, share, interest and participation whatsoever” over a parcel of land in favor of Elvira Arangote and her husband, Ray.  The Arangotes built a house on the property.  Elvira was able to subsequently obtain an Original Certificate of Title over the property.

Subsequently, certain heirs of Martin Maglunob (the Heirs) entered the property, which compelled the Arangotes to file an action for Quieting of Title, Declaration of Ownership and Possession, Damages with Preliminary Injunction, and Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC).

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