Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Compensation" in Civil Law (obligations and contracts) explained - G.R. No. 191555

Read  -  G.R. No. 191555

"x x x.

The Issue Before the Court

The sole issue for the Court’s resolution is whether or not the CA correctly upheld the denial of Union Bank’s motion to affirm legal compensation.

The Court’s Ruling

The petition is bereft of merit. Compensation is defined as a mode of extinguishing obligations whereby two persons in their capacity as principals are mutual debtors and creditors of each other with respect to equally liquidated and demandable obligations to which no retention or controversy has been timely commenced and communicated by third parties.53 The requisites therefor are provided under Article 1279 of the Civil Code which reads as follows:

Art. 1279. In order that compensation may be proper, it is necessary:
(1) That each one of the obligors be bound principally, and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other;
(2) That both debts consist in a sum of money, or if the things due are consumable, they be of the same kind, and also of the same quality if the latter has been stated;
(3) That the two debts be due;
(4) That they be liquidated and demandable;
(5) That over neither of them there be any retention or controversy, commenced by third persons and communicated in due time to the debtor.1awp++i1 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
The rule on legal54 compensation is stated in Article 1290 of the Civil Code which provides that "[w]hen all the requisites mentioned in Article 1279 are present, compensation takes effect by operation of law, and extinguishes both debts to the concurrent amount, even though the creditors and debtors are not aware of the compensation."

In this case, Union Bank filed a motion to seek affirmation that legal compensation had taken place in order to effectively offset (a) its own obligation to return the funds it previously received from DBP as directed under the September 6, 2005 Writ of Execution with (b) DBP’s assumed obligations under the Assumption Agreement. However, legal compensation could not have taken place between these debts for the apparent reason that requisites 3 and 4 under Article 1279 of the Civil Code are not present. Since DBP’s assumed obligations to Union Bank for remittance of the lease payments are – in the Court’s words in its Decision dated January 13, 2004 in G.R. No. 155838 – " contingent on the prior payment thereof by [FW] to DBP," it cannot be said that both debts are due (requisite 3 of Article 1279 of the Civil Code). Also, in the same ruling, the Court observed that any deficiency that DBP had to make up (by December 29, 1998 as per the Assumption Agreement) for the full satisfaction of the assumed obligations " cannot be determined until after the satisfaction of Foodmasters’ obligation to DBP." In this regard, it cannot be concluded that the same debt had already been liquidated, and thereby became demandable (requisite 4 of Article 1279 of the Civil Code).

The aforementioned Court decision had already attained finality on April 30, 200455 and, hence, pursuant to the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment, the facts and issues actually and directly resolved therein may not be raised in any future case between the same parties, even if the latter suit may involve a different cause of action.56 Its pertinent portions are hereunder quoted for ready reference:57

x x x."