February 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected February 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Actions; prescription/laches. Petitioners contend that it is error on the part of the CA to rule that their cause of action has been barred by prescription and laches. According to them, since the OCT from which ALI derived its title is void for want of a duly approved survey plan, their cause of action did not prescribe. However, as discussed above, the conclusion of the trial court that OCT No. 242 is void was not sufficiently borne out by the evidence on record. Verily, the premise upon which petitioners build their theory of imprescriptibility of their action did not exist.

In sum, we find no reason to disturb the CA’s finding that:  “As previously emphasized, OCT No. 242 of ALI’s predecessor-in-interest was issued on May 7, 1950, or forty-five (45) years before plaintiffs-appellees filed their complaint on March 10, 1995.  As such, it is the Court’s firmly held view that plaintiffs-appellees’ claim is barred not only by prescription, but also by laches.

Aside from the fact that OCT No. 242 had become incontrovertible after the lapse of one (1) year from the time a decree of registration was issued, any action for reconveyance that plaintiffs-appellees could have availed of is also barred.  Although plaintiffs-appellees’ complaint was for quieting of title, it is in essence an action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust, considering that plaintiffs-appellees were alleging in said complaint that there was a serious mistake, if not fraud, in the issuance of OCT No. 242 in favor of ALI’s predecessor-in-interest.  It is now well-settled that an action for reconveyance, which is a legal remedy granted to a landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another’s name, must be filed within ten years from the issuance of the title, since such issuance operates as a constructive notice.  Since ALI’s title is traced to an OCT issued in 1950, the ten-year prescriptive period expired in 1960.

By laches is meant the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.  It does not involve mere lapse or passage of time, but is principally an impediment to the assertion or enforcement of a right, which has become under the circumstances inequitable or unfair to permit.  In the instant case, plaintiffs-appellees, as well as their predecessor-in-interest, have not shown that they have taken judicial steps to nullify OCT No. 242, from which ALI’s title was derived, for forty-five (45) years.  To allow them to do so now, and if successful, would be clearly unjust and inequitable to those who relied on the validity of said OCT, the innocent purchasers for value, who are protected by the precise provisions of P.D. 1529”. Spouses Morris Carpo and Socorro Carpo vs. Ayala Land, Incorporated, G.R. No. 166577, February 3, 2010.

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February 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

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

Civil Code

Agency; principle of apparent authority; agency relationship between hospital and doctors who practice in its premises. This Court holds that PSI (the owner of the hospital) is liable to the Aganas, not under the principle of respondeat superior for lack of evidence of an employment relationship with a Dr. Ampil (who had left two pieces of gauze in the body of a patient he had operated on) but under the principle of ostensible agency for the negligence of Dr. Ampil and, pro hac vice, under the principle of corporate negligence for its failure to perform its duties as a hospital.

While in theory a hospital as a juridical entity cannot practice medicine, in reality it utilizes doctors, surgeons and medical practitioners in the conduct of its business of facilitating medical and surgical treatment. Within that reality, three legal relationships crisscross: (1) between the hospital and the doctor practicing within its premises; (2) between the hospital and the patient being treated or examined within its premises and (3) between the patient and the doctor. The exact nature of each relationship determines the basis and extent of the liability of the hospital for the negligence of the doctor.

Where an employment relationship exists, the hospital may be held vicariously liable under Article 2176 in relation to Article 2180 of the Civil Code or the principle of respondeat superior. Even when no employment relationship exists but it is shown that the hospital holds out to the patient that the doctor is its agent, the hospital may still be vicariously liable under Article 2176 in relation to Article 1431 and Article 1869 of the Civil Code or the principle of apparent authority. Moreover, regardless of its relationship with the doctor, the hospital may be held directly liable to the patient for its own negligence or failure to follow established standard of conduct to which it should conform as a corporation.

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August 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law, Criminal Law and Legal/Judicial Ethics

Here are selected August 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on remedial law, criminal law and legal/judicial ethics.

Remedial Law

Action;  accion publiciana.  Accion publiciana, also known as accion plenaria de posesion, is an ordinary civil proceeding to determine the better right of possession of realty independently of title. It refers to an ejectment suit filed after the expiration of one year from the accrual of the cause of action or from the unlawful withholding of possession of the realty.

The objective of the plaintiffs in accion publiciana is to recover possession only, not ownership. However, where the parties raise the issue of ownership, the courts may pass upon the issue to determine who between or among the parties has the right to possess the property. This adjudication, however, is not a final and binding determination of the issue of ownership; it is only for the purpose of resolving the issue of possession, where the issue of ownership is inseparably linked to the issue of possession. The adjudication of the issue of ownership, being provisional, is not a bar to an action between the same parties involving title to the property. The adjudication, in short, is not conclusive on the issue of ownership. Francisco Madrid and Edgardo Bernardo vs. Spouses Bonifacio Mapoy and Felicidad Martinez, G.R. No. 150887, August 14, 2009.

Action;  filing fees. Upon deeper reflection, we find that the movants’ claim has merit. The 600,000 shares of stock were, indeed, properties in litigation. They were the subject matter of the complaint, and the relief prayed for entailed the nullification of the transfer thereof and their return to LLDC. David, et al., are minority shareholders of the corporation who claim to have been prejudiced by the sale of the shares of stock to the Lu Ym father and sons. Thus, to the extent of the damage or injury they allegedly have suffered from this sale of the shares of stock, the action they filed can be characterized as one capable of pecuniary estimation. The shares of stock have a definite value, which was declared by plaintiffs themselves in their complaint. Accordingly, the docket fees should have been computed based on this amount. This is clear from the version of Rule 141, Section 7 in effect at the time the complaint was filed. David Lu Vs. Paterno Lu Ym, Sr., et al./Paterno Lu Ym, Sr., et al. Vs. David Lu/ John Lu Ym and Ludo & Luym Development Corporation Vs. The Hon. Court of Appeals of Cebu City (former twentieth division), et al., G.R. No. 153690/G.R. No. 157381/G.R. No. 170889, August 4, 2009.

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April 2009 Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected April 2009 decisions of the Supreme Court on civil law and related laws:

Accretion.  Article 457 of the Civil Code requires the concurrence of the following requisites for accretion: (1) that the deposition of soil or sediment be gradual and imperceptible; (2) that it be the result of the action of the waters of the river; and (3) that the land where accretion takes place is adjacent to the banks of rivers.  Thus, it is not enough to be a riparian owner in order to enjoy the benefits of accretion.  One who claims the right of accretion must show by preponderant evidence that he has met all the conditions provided by law.  New Regent Sources, Inc. vs. Teofilo Victor Tanjuatco, Jr. and Vicente CuevasG.R. No. 168800, April 16, 2009.

Compensation; requisites. Under Article 1279 (1), it is necessary for compensation that the obligors “be bound principally, and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other.” There is, concededly, no mutual creditor-debtor relation between APT and UPSUMCO. However, we recognize the concept of conventional compensation, defined as occurring “when the parties agree to compensate their mutual obligations even if some requisite is lacking, such as that provided in Article 1282.” It is intended to eliminate or overcome obstacles which prevent ipso jure extinguishment of their obligations.

Legal compensation takes place by operation of law when all the requisites are present, as opposed to conventional compensation which takes place when the parties agree to compensate their mutual obligations even in the absence of some requisites. The only requisites of conventional compensation are (1) that each of the parties can dispose of the credit he seeks to compensate, and (2) that they agree to the mutual extinguishment of their credits. United Planters Sugar Milling Co., Inc. (UPSUMCO) vs. The Honorable Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 126890, April 2, 2009.

Compromise agreement; binding effect.  A compromise agreement, as a contract, is binding only upon the parties to the compromise, and not upon non-parties.  This is the doctrine of relativity of contracts.  Consistent with this principle, a judgment based entirely on a compromise agreement is binding only on the parties to the compromise the court approved, and not upon the parties who did not take part in the compromise agreement and in the proceedings leading to its submission and approval by the court.  Otherwise stated, a court judgment made solely on the basis of a compromise agreement binds only the parties to the compromise, and cannot bind a party litigant who did not take part in the compromise agreement.   Philippine National Bank Vs. Marcelino Banatao, et al. and Marciano Carag, et al., G.R. No. 149221,  April 7, 2009.

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