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September 9, 2014

Carbonell vs. CA

Facts:
  • Respondent Jose Poncio was the owner of the parcel of land located in Rizal. (Area – more or less 195 sq. m.)
  • The said lot was subject to mortgage in favor of the Republic Savings Bank for the sum of P1,500.00. 
  • Carbonell and respondent Emma Infante offered to buy the said lot from Poncio.
  • Poncio offered to sell his lot to Carbonell excluding the house on which he and his family stayed. Carbonell accepted the offer and proposed the price of P9.50/sq. m.. 
  • Poncio accepted the price on the condition that from the purchase price would come the money to be paid to the bank.
  • January 27, 1995: The parties executed a document in the Batanes dialect which is translated as: CONTRACT FOR ONE HALF LOT WHICH I (Poncio) BOUGHT FROM.
  • Carbonell asked a lawyer to prepare the deed of sale and delivered the document, together with the balance of P400, to Jose Poncio. (Note: Carbonell already paid P200 for the mortgage debt of Poncio + obligated herself to pay the remaining installments.)
  • However, when she went to Poncio, the latter informed her that he could no longer proceed with the sale as the lot was already sold to Emma Infante and that he could not withdraw with the sale.
  • Poncio admitted that on January 30, 1995, Mrs. Infante improved her offer and he agreed to sell the land and its improvements to her for P3,535.00. 
  • In a private memorandum agreement, Poncio bound to sell to Infante the lot for the sum of P2,357.52, with Infante still assuming the mortgage debt of P1,177.48. (Note: The full amount of mortgage debt was already paid by the Infantes)
  • February 2, 1995: A deed of sale was executed between Poncio and Infante.
  • February 8, 1995: Knowing that the sale to Infante has not been registered, Carbonell filed an adverse claim. 
  • February 12, 1995: The deed of sale was registered but it has an annotation of the adverse claim of Carbonell.
  • Thereafter, Emma Infante took possession of the lot, built a house and introduced some improvements.
  • In June 1995, Carbonell filed a complaint praying that she be declared the lawful owner of the land, that the subsequent sale to spouses Infante be declared null and void, and that Jose Poncio be ordered to execute the corresponding deed of conveyance of said land in her favor
  • RTC ruled that the sale to spouses Infante was null and void. After re-trial, it reversed its ruling. CA ruled in favor of Carbonell but after a MfR, it reversed its ruling and ruled in favor of the Infantes.



Issue: WON Carbonell has a superior right over Emma Infante. YES

Held: 

Article 1544 provides that for double sale of an immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person who first acquired it in good faith and recorded it in the Registry of Property
Article 1544, New Civil Code, which is decisive of this case, recites:
If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the ownership shall be transferred to the person who may have first taken possession thereof in good faith, if it should movable property.
Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property.
Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall pertain to the person who in good faith was first in the possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the person who presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith.

The buyer must act in good faith in registering the deed of sale
It is essential that the buyer of realty must act in good faith in registering his deed of sale to merit the protection of the second paragraph of said Article 1544.

Unlike the first and third paragraphs of said Article 1544, which accord preference to the one who first takes possession in good faith of personal or real property, the second paragraph directs that ownership of immovable property should be recognized in favor of one "who in good faith first recorded" his right. Under the first and third paragraph, good faith must characterize the act of anterior registration.

Rule when there is inscription or not
If there is no inscription, what is decisive is prior possession in good faith. If there is inscription, as in the case at bar, prior registration in good faith is a pre-condition to superior title.

Carbonell was in good faith when she bought the lot
When Carbonell bought the lot from Poncio on January 27, 1955, she was the only buyer thereof and the title of Poncio was still in his name solely encumbered by bank mortgage duly annotated thereon. Carbonell was not aware — and she could not have been aware — of any sale of Infante as there was no such sale to Infante then. 

Hence, Carbonell's prior purchase of the land was made in good faith. Her good faith subsisted and continued to exist when she recorded her adverse claim four (4) days prior to the registration of Infantes's deed of sale. 

Carbonell’s good faith did not cease when she was informed by Poncio about the sale to Emma Infante
After learning about the second sale, Carbonell tried to talk to the Infantes but the latter refused. 
(Exact words of the SC: With an aristocratic disdain unworthy of the good breeding of a good Christian and good neighbor, Infante snubbed Carbonell like a leper and refused to see her.)

So Carbonell did the next best thing to protect her right — she registered her adversed claim on February 8, 1955. Under the circumstances, this recording of her adverse claim should be deemed to have been done in good faith and should emphasize Infante's bad faith when she registered her deed of sale four (4) days later on February 12, 1955.

The Infantes were in bad faith (5 indications of bad faith listed below)
Bad faith arising from previous knowledge by Infante of the prior sale to Carbonell is shown by the following facts:
1. Mrs. Infante refused to see Carbonell.
Her refusal to talk to Carbonell could only mean that she did not want to listen to Carbonell's story that she (Carbonell) had previously bought the lot from Poncio.
2. Carbonell was already in possession of mortgage passbook and copy of the mortgage contract. (Not Poncio’s saving deposit passbook.)
Infante naturally must have demanded from Poncio the delivery to her of his mortgage passbook and mortgage contract so that the fact of full payment of his bank mortgage will be entered therein; and Poncio, as well as the bank, must have inevitably informed her that said mortgage passbook could not be given to her because it was already delivered to Carbonell.
3. Emma Infante did not inquire why Poncio was no longer in possession of the mortgage passbook and why it was in Carbonell’s possession.
The fact that Poncio was no longer in possession of his mortgage passbook and that the said mortgage passbook was already in possession of Carbonell, should have compelled Infante to inquire from Poncio why he was no longer in possession of the mortgage passbook and from Carbonell why she was in possession of the same.
4. Emma Infante registered the sale under her name after Carbonell filed an adverse claim 4 days earlier.
Here she was again on notice of the prior sale to Carbonell. Such registration of adverse claim is valid and effective.
5. Infante failed to inquire to Poncio WON he had already sold the property to Carbonell especially that it can be shown that he was aware of the offer made by Carbonell.
Poncio alleged in his answer that Mrs. Infante and Mrs. Carbonell offered to buy the lot at P15/sq. m. which offers he rejected as he believed that his lot is worth at least P20.00/sq. m. It is therefore logical to presume that Infante was told by Poncio and consequently knew of the offer of Carbonell which fact likewise should have put her on her guard and should have compelled her to inquire from Poncio whether or not he had already sold the property to Carbonell

The existence of prior sale to Carbonell was duly established
From the terms of the memorandum, it tends to show that the sale of the property in favor of Carbonell is already an accomplished act.  As found by the trial court, to repeat the said memorandum states "that Poncio is allowed to stay in the property which he had sold to the plaintiff ..., it tends to show that the sale of the property in favor of the plaintiff is already an accomplished act..."

There was an adequate consideration or price for the sale in favor of Carbonell
Poncio agreed to sell the same to Carbonell at P9.50 per square meter, on condition that Carbonell: 
1. should pay (a) the amount of P400.00 to Poncio and the arrears in the amount of P247.26 to the bank
2. should assume his mortgage indebtedness. 
The bank president agreed to the said sale with assumption of mortgage in favor of Carbonell an Carbonell accordingly paid the arrears of P247.26.

It is evident therefore that there was ample consideration, and not merely the sum of P200.00, for the sale of Poncio to Carbonell of the lot in question.

The subject property was identified and described
The court has arrived at the conclusion that there is sufficient description of the lot referred to in Exh. As none other than the parcel of lot occupied by the defendant Poncio and where he has his improvements erected. The Identity of the parcel of land involved herein is sufficiently established by the contents of the note Exh. 'A'.

Read full text here:
G.R. No. L-29972 January 26, 1976 ROSARIO CARBONELL, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE PONCIO, EMMA INFANTE and RAMON INFANTE, respondents.

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