September 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

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

Checks; negotiable instruments. The check delivered to was made payable to cash. Under the Negotiable Instruments Law, this type of check was payable to the bearer and could be negotiated by mere delivery without the need of an indorsement. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Reyes Wagas, G.R. No. 157943, September 4, 2013.

Insurance contracts; contract of adhesion. A contract of insurance is a contract of adhesion. When the terms of the insurance contract contain limitations on liability, courts should construe them in such a way as to preclude the insurer from non-compliance with his obligation. Alpha Insurance and Surety Co. v. Arsenia Sonia Castor, G.R. No. 198174, September 2, 2013.

Sale; subdivision lots. Presidential Decree No. 957 is a law that regulates the sale of subdivision lots and condominiums in view of the increasing number of incidents wherein “real estate subdivision owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers have reneged on their representations and obligations to provide and maintain properly” the basic requirements and amenities, as well as of reports of alarming magnitude of swindling and fraudulent manipulations perpetrated by unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers and operators, such as failure to deliver titles to the buyers or titles free from liens and encumbrances.

Presidential Decree No. 957 authorizes the suspension and revocation of the registration and license of the real estate subdivision owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers in certain instances, as well as provides the procedure to be observed in such instances; it prescribes administrative fines and other penalties in case of violation of, or non-compliance with its provisions. San Miguel Properties, Inc. v. Secretary of Justice, et al., G.R. No. 166836, September 4, 2013.

(Hector thanks Carlos Manuel D. Prado for his assistance to Lexoterica.)

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August 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

Here are select August 2103 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on commercial law:

Insurance; prohibition against removal of property. Here, by the clear and express condition in the renewal policy, the removal of the insured property to any building or place required the consent of Malayan. Any transfer effected by the insured, without the insurer’s consent, would free the latter from any liability.

Insurance; rescission. Considering that the original policy was renewed on an “as is basis,” it follows that the renewal policy carried with it the same stipulations and limitations. The terms and conditions in the renewal policy provided, among others, that the location of the risk insured against is at the Sanyo factory in PEZA. The subject insured properties, however, were totally burned at the Pace Factory. Although it was also located in PEZA, Pace Factory was not the location stipulated in the renewal policy. There being an unconsented removal, the transfer was at PAP’s own risk. Consequently, it must suffer the consequences of the fire. Thus, the Court agrees with the report of Cunningham Toplis Philippines, Inc., an international loss adjuster which investigated the fire incident at the Pace Factory, which opined that “[g]iven that the location of risk covered under the policy is not the location affected, the policy will, therefore, not respond to this loss/claim.” It can also be said that with the transfer of the location of the subject properties, without notice and without Malayan’s consent, after the renewal of the policy, PAP clearly committed concealment, misrepresentation and a breach of a material warranty.

Accordingly, an insurer can exercise its right to rescind an insurance contract when the following conditions are present, to wit:

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June 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

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

Corporation; derivative suit. A derivative suit is an action brought by a stockholder on behalf  of  the  corporation  to  enforce  corporate  rights  against  the corporation’s directors, officers or other insiders. Under Sections 23 and 36 of the Corporation Code, the directors or officers, as provided under the by-laws, have the right to decide whether or not a corporation should sue. Since these directors or officers will never be willing to sue themselves, or impugn their wrongful or fraudulent decisions, stockholders are permitted by law to bring an action in the name of the corporation to hold these directors and officers accountable. In derivative suits, the real party in interest is the corporation, while the stockholder is a mere nominal party.  Juanito Ang, for and in behalf of Sunrise Marketing (Bacolod), Inc. v. Sps. Roberto and Rachel Ang, G.R. No. 201675, June 19, 2013.

Corporation; shares of stock. In a sale of shares of stock, physical delivery of a stock certificate is one of the essential requisites for the transfer of ownership of the stocks purchased.

Here, FEGDI clearly failed to deliver the stock certificates, representing the shares of stock purchased by Vertex, within  a reasonable time from the point the shares should have been delivered.  This was a substantial breach of their contract that entitles Vertex the right to rescind the sale under Article 1191 of the Civil Code.  It is not entirely  correct to say that a sale had already been consummated as Vertex already  enjoyed the rights a shareholder can exercise.  The enjoyment of these rights cannot suffice where the law, by its express terms, requires a specific form to transfer ownership.  Fil-Estate Gold and Development, Inc., et al. v. Vertex Sales and Trading, Inc., G.R. No. 202079, June 10, 2013.

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November 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

Here are select November 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on commercial law:

Banks; level of diligence required. Primarily, it bears noting that the doctrine of “mortgagee in good faith” is based on the rule that all persons dealing with property covered by a Torrens Certificate of Title are not required to go beyond what appears on the face of the title. This is in deference to the public interest in upholding the indefeasibility of a certificate of title as evidence of lawful ownership of the land or of any encumbrance thereon. In the case of banks and other financial institutions, however, greater care and due diligence are required since they are imbued with public interest, failing which renders the mortgagees in bad faith. Thus, before approving a loan application, it is a standard operating practice for these institutions to conduct an ocular inspection of the property offered for mortgage and to verify the genuineness of the title to determine the real owner(s) thereof. The apparent purpose of an ocular inspection is to protect the “true owner” of the property as well as innocent third parties with a right, interest or claim thereon from a usurper who may have acquired a fraudulent certificate of title thereto.

In this case, while Philbank failed to exercise greater care in conducting the ocular inspection of the properties offered for mortgage, its omission did not prejudice any innocent third parties. In particular, the buyer did not pursue her cause and abandoned her claim on the property. On the other hand, Sps. Delgado were parties to the simulated sale in favor of the Dys which was intended to mislead Philbank into granting the loan application. Thus, no amount of diligence in the conduct of the ocular inspection could have led to the discovery of the complicity between the ostensible mortgagors (the Dys) and the true owners (Sps. Delgado). In fine, Philbank can hardly be deemed negligent under the premises since the ultimate cause of the mortgagors’ (the Dys’) defective title was the simulated sale to which Sps. Delgado were privies.

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July 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

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

Banks; diligence required. FEBTC should have been more circumspect in dealing with its clients.  It cannot be over emphasized that the banking business is impressed with public interest. Of paramount importance is the trust and confidence of the public in general in the banking industry. Consequently, the diligence required of banks is more than that of a Roman pater familias or a good father of a family. The highest degree of diligence is expected. In handling loan transactions, banks are under obligation to ensure compliance by the clients with all the documentary requirements pertaining to the approval and release of the loan applications.  For failure of its branch manager to exercise the requisite diligence in abiding by the MORB and the banking rules and practices, FEBTC was negligent in the selection and supervision of its employees. Far East Bank and Trust Company (now Bank of the Philippine Islands) vs. Tentmakers Group, Inc., Gregoria Pilares Santos and Rhoel P. Santos, G.R. No. 171050, July 4, 2012.

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act; prescription. The COGSA is the applicable law  for all contracts for carriage of goods by sea to and from Philippine ports in foreign trade; it is thus the law that the Court shall consider in  the present case since the cargo was transported from Brazil to the Philippines.

Under Section 3(6) of the COGSA, the carrier is discharged from liability for loss or damage to the cargo “unless the suit is brought within one year after delivery of the goods or the date when the goods should have been delivered.” Jurisprudence, however, recognized the validity of an agreement between the carrier and the shipper/consignee extending the one-year period to file a claim. Benjamin Cua (Cua Hian Tek) vs. Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc. and Advance Shipping Corporation, G.R. No. 171337. July 11, 2012.

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February 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

Here are select February 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on commercial law:

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA);  applicability of prescription period to arrastre operator.  Under the COGSA, the carrier and the ship may put up the defense of prescription if the action for damages is not brought within one year after the delivery of the goods or the date when the goods should have been delivered.  It has been held that not only the shipper, but also the consignee or legal holder of the bill may invoke the prescriptive period. However, the COGSA does not mention that an arrastre operator may invoke the prescriptive period of one year; hence, it does not cover the arrastre operator. Insurance Company of North America vs. Asian Terminals, Inc., G.R. No. 180784, February 15, 2012.

COGSA; bad order survey.  As early as November 29, 2002, the date of the last withdrawal of the goods from the arrastre operator, respondent ATI was able to verify that five (5) packages of the shipment were in bad order while in its custody. The certificate of non-delivery referred to in the Contract is similar to or identical with the examination report on the request for bad order survey.  Like in the case of New Zealand Insurance Company Ltd. v. Navarro, the verification and ascertainment of liability by respondent ATI had been accomplished within thirty (30) days from the date of delivery of the package to the consignee and within fifteen (15) days from the date of issuance by the Contractor (respondent ATI) of the examination report on the request for bad order survey.  Although the formal claim was filed beyond the 15-day period from the issuance of the examination report on the request for bad order survey, the purpose of the time limitations for the filing of claims had already been fully satisfied by the request of the consignee’s broker for a bad order survey and by the examination report of the arrastre operator on the result thereof, as the arrastre operator had become aware of and had verified the facts giving rise to its liability. Hence, the arrastre operator suffered no prejudice by the lack of strict compliance with the 15-day limitation to file the formal complaint. Insurance Company of North America vs. Asian Terminals, Inc., G.R. No. 180784, February 15, 2012.

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July 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

Here are selected July 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on commercial law:

Insurance; effectivity of bonds.  Lagman anchors his defense on two (2) arguments: 1) the 1989 Bonds have expired and 2) the 1990 Bond novates the 1989 Bonds. The Court of Appeals held that the 1989 bonds were effective only for one (1) year, as evidenced by the receipts on the payment of premiums. The Supreme Court did not agree.

The official receipts in question serve as proof of payment of the premium for one year on each surety bond.  It does not, however, automatically mean that the surety bond is effective for only one (1) year.  In fact, the effectivity of the bond is not wholly dependent on the payment of premium.  Section 177 of the Insurance Code expresses:

Sec. 177. The surety is entitled to payment of the premium as soon as the contract of suretyship or bond is perfected and delivered to the obligor. No contract of suretyship or bonding shall be valid and binding unless and until the premium therefor has been paid, except where the obligee has accepted the bond, in which case the bond becomes valid and enforceable irrespective of whether or not the premium has been paid by the obligor to the surety:Provided, That if the contract of suretyship or bond is not accepted by, or filed with the obligee, the surety shall collect only reasonable amount, not exceeding fifty per centum of the premium due thereon as service fee plus the cost of stamps or other taxes imposed for the issuance of the contract or bond: Provided, however, That if the non-acceptance of the bond be due to the fault or negligence of the surety, no such service fee, stamps or taxes shall be collected.

Country Bankers Insurance Corporation v. Antonio Lagman, G.R. No. 165487, July 13, 2011.

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