G.R. No. 167052, March 11, 2015
BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS SECURITIES CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. EDGARDO V. GUEVARA, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal and setting aside of the Decision1 dated December 19, 2003 and Resolution2 dated February 9, 2005 of the Court Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 69348, affirming the Decision3 dated September 11, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 57 in Civil Case No. 92-1445. The RTC acted favorably on the action instituted by respondent Edgardo V. Guevara for the enforcement of a foreign judgment, particularly, the Order4 dated March 13, 1990 of the United States (U.S.) District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (U.S. District Court), in Civil Action No. H-86-440, and ordered petitioner Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Securities Corporation to pay respondent (a) the sum of US$49,500.00 with legal interest; (b) P250,000.00 attorney’s fees and litigation expenses; and (c) costs of suit.
The facts are culled from the records of the case.
Ayala Corporation, a holding company, and its subsidiaries are engaged in a wide array of businesses including real estate, financial services, telecommunications, water and used water, electronics manufacturing services, automotive dealership and distributorship, business process outsourcing, power, renewable energy, and transport infrastructure.5
In the 1980s, Ayala Corporation was the majority stockholder of Ayala Investment and Development Corporation (AIDC). AIDC, in turn, wholly owned Philsec Investment Corporation (PHILSEC), a domestic stock brokerage firm, which was subsequently bought by petitioner; and Ayala International Finance Limited (AIFL), a Hong Kong deposit-taking corporation, which eventually became BPI International Finance Limited (BPI-IFL). PHILSEC was a member of the Makati Stock Exchange and the rules of the said organization required that a stockbroker maintain an amount of security equal to at least 50% of a client’s outstanding debt.
Respondent was hired by Ayala Corporation in 1958. Respondent later became the Head of the Legal Department of Ayala Corporation and then the President of PHILSEC from September 1, 1980 to December 31, 1983. Thereafter, respondent served as Vice-President of Ayala Corporation until his retirement on August 31, 1997.
While PHILSEC President, one of respondent’s obligations was to resolve the outstanding loans of Ventura O. Ducat (Ducat), which the latter obtained separately from PHILSEC and AIFL. Although Ducat constituted a pledge of his stock portfolio valued at approximately US$1.4 million, Ducat’s loans already amounted to US$3.1 million. Because the security for Ducat’s debts fell below the 50% requirement of the Makati Stock Exchange, the trading privileges of PHILSEC was in peril of being suspended.
Ducat proposed to settle his debts by an exchange of assets. Ducat owned several pieces of real estate in Houston, Texas, in partnership with Drago Daic (Daic), President of 1488, Inc., a U.S.-based corporation. Respondent relayed Ducat’s proposal to Enrique Zobel (Zobel), the Chief Executive Officer of Ayala Corporation. Zobel was amenable to Ducat’s proposal but advised respondent to send Thomas Gomez (Gomez), an AIFL employee who traveled often to the U.S., to evaluate Ducat’s properties.
In December of 1982, Gomez examined several parcels of real estate that were being offered by Ducat and 1488, Inc. for the exchange. Gomez, in a telex to respondent, recommended the acceptance of a parcel of land in Harris County, Texas (Harris County property), which was believed to be worth around US$2.9 million. Gomez further opined that the “swap would be fair and reasonable” and that it would be better to take this opportunity rather than pursue a prolonged legal battle with Ducat. Gomez’s recommendation was brought to Zobel’s attention. The property-for-debt exchange was subsequently approved by the AIFL Board of Directors even without a prior appraisal of the Harris County property. However, before the exchange actually closed, an AIFL director asked respondent to obtain such an appraisal.
William Craig (Craig), a former owner of the Harris County property, conducted the appraisal of the market value of the said property. In his January 1983 appraisal, Craig estimated the fair market value of the Harris County property at US$3,365,000.
Negotiations finally culminated in an Agreement,6 executed on January 27, 1983 in Makati City, Philippines, among 1488, Inc., represented by Daic; Ducat, represented by Precioso Perlas (Perlas); AIFL, represented by Joselito Gallardo (Gallardo); and PHILSEC and Athona Holdings, N. V. (ATHONA), both represented by respondent. Under the Agreement, the total amount of Ducat’s debts was reduced from US$3.1 million to US$2.5 million; ATHONA, a company wholly owned by PHILSEC and AIFL, would buy the Harris County property from 1488, Inc. for the price of US$2,807,209.02; PHILSEC and AIFL would grant ATHONA a loan of US$2.5 million, which ATHONA would entirely use as initial payment for the purchase price of the Harris County property; ATHONA would execute a promissory note in favor of 1488, Inc. in the sum of US$307,209.02 to cover the balance of the purchase price for the Harris County property; upon its receipt of the initial payment of US$2.5 million from ATHONA, 1488, Inc. would then fully pay Ducat’s debts to PHILSEC and AIFL in the same amount; for their part, PHILSEC and AIFL would release and transfer possession of Ducat’s pledged stock portfolio to 1488, Inc.; and 1488, Inc. would become the new creditor of Ducat, subject to such other terms as they might agree upon.
The series of transactions per the Agreement was eventually executed. However, after acquiring the Harris County property, ATHONA had difficulty selling the same. Despite repeated demands by 1488, Inc., ATHONA failed to pay its promissory note for the balance of the purchase price for the Harris County property, and PHILSEC and AIFL refused to release the remainder of Ducat’s stock portfolio, claiming that they were defrauded into believing that the said property had a fair market value higher than it actually had.
Civil Action No. H-86-440 before the
U.S. District Court of Southern District
of Texas, Houston Division
On October 17, 1985, 1488, Inc. instituted a suit against PHILSEC, AIFL, and ATHONA for (a) misrepresenting that an active market existed for two shares of stock included in Ducat’s portfolio when, in fact, said shares were to be withdrawn from the trading list; (b) conversion of the stock portfolio; (c) fraud, as ATHONA had never intended to abide by the provisions of its promissory note when they signed it; and (d) acting in concert as a common enterprise or in the alternative, that ATHONA was the alter ego of PHILSEC and AIFL. The suit was docketed as Civil Action No. H-86-440 before the U.S. District Court.
PHILSEC, AIFL, and ATHONA filed counterclaims against 1488, Inc., Daic, Craig, Ducat, and respondent, for the recovery of damages and excess payment or, in the alternative, the rescission of the sale of the Harris County property, alleging fraud, negligence, and conspiracy on the part of counter-defendants who knew or should have known that the value of said property was less than the appraisal value assigned to it by Craig.
Before the referral of the case to the jury for verdict, the U.S. District Court dropped respondent as counter-defendant for lack of evidence to support the allegations against him. Respondent then moved in open court to sanction petitioner (formerly PHILSEC), AIFL, and ATHONA based on Rule 11 of the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.7
In its Order dated March 13, 1990, the U.S. District Court stated that on February 14, 1990, after trial, the jury returned a verdict for 1488, Inc. In the same Order, the U.S. District Court ruled favorably on respondent’s pending motion for sanction, thus:
During the course of the trial, the Court was required to review plaintiff’s Exhibit No. 91 to determine whether the exhibit should be admitted. After reviewing the exhibit and hearing the evidence, the Court concluded that the defendants’ counterclaims against Edgardo V. Guevara are frivolous and brought against him simply to humiliate and embarrass him. It is the opinion of the Court that the defendants, Philsec Investment Corporation, A/K/A BPI Securities, Inc., and Ayala International Finance Limited, should be sanctioned appropriately based on Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 and the Court’s inherent powers to punish unconscionable conduct. Based upon the motion and affidavit of Edgardo V. Guevara, the Court finds that $49,450 is reasonable punishment.
ORDERED that defendants, Philsec Investment Corporation A/K/A BPI Securities, Inc., and Ayala International Finance Limited, jointly and severally, shall pay to Edgardo V. Guevara $49,450 within 30 days of the entry of this order.8
 To state a cause of action for fraud under Texas law, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show:
(1) that a material representation was made; (2) that it was false; (3) that when the speaker made it he knew that it was false or made it recklessly without any knowledge of the truth and as a positive assertion; (4) that he made it with the intention that it should be acted on by the party; (5) that the party acted in reliance upon it; (6) that he thereby suffered injury.
Stone v. Lawyers Title Ins. Corp., 554 S.W.2d 183, 185 (Tex.1977). We agree with the district court’s decision to grant a directed verdict against the defendants. The defendants failed to allege sufficient facts to establish the elements necessary to demonstrate fraud. In particular, the defendants have failed to allege any facts that would tend to show that the plaintiff or any of the third party defendants made a false representation or a representation with reckless disregard as to its truth.
The Houston real estate market was extremely volatile during the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s. Like a stream of hot air, property values rose rapidly as the heat and fury generated by speculation and construction plans mounted, but, just as rapidly, the climate cooled and the high-flying market came crashing to an all time low. The real estate transaction involved in this case was certainly affected by this environment of capriciousness. Moreover, a number of additional variables may have contributed to the uncertainty of its value. For instance, the land abutted a two-lane asphalt road that had been targeted by the state for conversion into a major multi-lane divided highway. Water and sewage treatment facilities were located near the boundary lines of the property. In addition, Houston’s lack of conventional zoning ordinances meant that the value of the property could fluctuate depending upon the use (commercial or residential) for which the property would ultimately be used.
 The fact that the defendants were unable to sell the property at the price for which it had been appraised does not demonstrate that the plaintiff or the third party defendants knew that the value of the property was less than the appraised value, nor does it establish that the opposing parties were guilty of negligent misrepresentation or negligence.
 In support of their allegation of fraud, the defendants rely heavily on a loan application completed by 1488 shortly before the subject property was transferred to Athona. See Defendant’s Exhibit 29. At the time, 1488 still owed approximately $300,000 to Republic of Texas Savings Association on its original loan for the subject property. The debt had matured and 1488 was planning to move the loan to Home Savings Association of Houston, that is, take out a loan from Home Savings to pay off the debt to Republic. 1488 had planned to borrow $350,000 for that purpose. A line item on the Home Savings loan application form asked for the amount of the loan as a percentage of the appraised value of the land. A figure of thirty-nine percent was typed into that space, and the defendants suggest that this proves that the plaintiff knew Craig’s appraisal was erroneous. The defendants reason that if the $350,000 loan amount was only thirty-nine percent of the land’s appraised value, then the real estate must have been worth approximately $897,436.
Although their analysis is sound, the conclusion reached by the defendants cannot withstand additional scrutiny. At the time that the loan application was completed, 1488 did not request to have a new appraisal done for the property. Instead, 1488 planned to use the numbers that had been generated for a quasi-appraisal done in 1977. The 1977 report purported only to “supplement” an earlier appraisal that had been conducted in 1974, and the supplement described its function as estimating market value “for mortgage loan purposes” only. See Defendant’s Trial Exhibit 4. The two page supplement was based on such old information that even the Home Savings Association would not accept it without additional collateral as security for the loan. See Record on Appeal, Vol. 17 at 5-29 to 5-30. The loan, however, was never made because the property was transferred to Athona, and the outstanding loan to Republic was paid off as part of that transaction. In addition, the loan application itself was never signed by anyone affiliated with 1488. The district court was correct in dismissing this argument in support of the defendant’s fraud allegations.
 The defendants also allege that the plaintiff and counter defendants knew that Craig’s appraisal was fraudulent because the purchaser’s statement signed by their own representative, and the seller’s statement, signed by the plaintiff, as well as the title insurance policy all recited a purchase price of $643,416.12. Robert Higgs, general counsel for 1488, explained that because of the nature of the transaction, 1488, for tax purposes, wanted the purchase price on the closing statement to reflect only that amount of cash actually exchanged at the closing as well as the promissory note given at the closing. See Record on Appeal, Vol. 17 at 5-127. Although the closing documents recite a purchase price well under the actual sales price, nothing indicates that any of the parties actually believed the property to be worth less than the sales amount.
The defendants also assert that it was error for the district court to deny them permission to designate O. Frank McPherson, a Houston appraiser, as an expert witness after the cutoff date established by a pretrial order for such designations. The defendants contend that the error prevented them from presenting facts that would support their fraud allegations. Although the defendants were allowed to present the testimony of another expert witness on the subject of valuation, they argue that McPherson’s testimony was critical because he had performed an appraisal of the property for the Texas Highway Department close to the time period during which Craig had made his appraisal. McPherson’s appraisal was performed as part of the State’s condemnation proceedings that preceded the planned highway expansion next to the subject property.
x x x x
 In their briefs, the defendants fail to provide an adequate explanation for their failure to identify their expert witness in accordance with the district court’s pretrial order. This law suit was initiated in 1985, and the defendants had until November of 1988 to designate their expert witnesses. The defendants were aware of the condemnation proceedings, and they, therefore, had approximately three years to determine the identity of any appraiser used by the state. The defendants simply failed to make this inquiry.
Enforcement of the district court’s pretrial order did not leave the defendants without an expert witness on the issue of valuation, and the available expert had also conducted appraisals for the Texas Highway Department in the area surrounding the subject property. x x x
Although the degree of prejudice suffered by the plaintiff due to the late designation of an expert would not have been great, a district court still has the discretion to control pretrial discovery and sanction a party’s failure to follow a scheduling order. See id. at 791. Such action is particularly appropriate here, where the defendants have failed to provide an adequate explanation for their failure to identify their expert within the designated timetable.
x x x x
The defendants failed to produce enough evidence from which fraud could be inferred to justify the submission of the issue to a jury. Conclusional allegations or speculation regarding what the plaintiff knew or did not know concerning the value of the subject property are insufficient to withstand a motion for a directed verdict. The district court committed no error in granting the motion.
x x x x
Since the defendants failed to present the district court with any facts that would tend to show that the plaintiffs committed a fraud against them, their claim of a conspiracy to commit fraud must also fail.9
[10, 11] The defendants have likewise failed to present any facts that would tend to support their claim of negligent misrepresentation or negligence. The defendants rely on assumptions and unsupportable conclusions of law in establishing their case for negligence: “Assuming the Property’s true value is less than $800,000, it is reasonable to assume that the counter defendants failed to exercise reasonable care or competence . . .” Brief for Athona at 45-46 x x x. A party may not rely on assumptions of fact to carry their case forward. The defendants have presented no facts to suggest that the plaintiff was negligent in acquiring its appraisal. The plaintiff hired Craig, a real estate broker, to perform the appraisal after the defendants had already given their initial approval for the transaction. Craig had performed real estate appraisals in the past, and Texas law permits real estate brokers to conduct such appraisals, see Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat.Ann. art. 6573a, §2(2)(E) (Vernon Supp. 1988) (Original version at Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat.Ann. art. 6573a, §4(1)(e) (Vernon 1969). These facts do not support a claim of negligence.
For the foregoing reasons the district court committed no error in granting a directed verdict against the counterclaims advanced by the defendants.10
[18-20] The Rule 11 motion was first made by Guevara on February 14, 1990, and the court immediately ruled on the issue without giving the defendants an opportunity to prepare a written response. See Record on Appeal, Vol. 22 at 10-25 to 10-37. Although, the defendants were given an opportunity to speak, we conclude that the hearing failed to comport with the requirements of due process, which demand that the defendants be provided with adequate notice and an opportunity to prepare a response. See Henderson v. Department of Public Safety and Corrections, 901 F.2d 1288, 1293-94 (5th Cir.1990). Providing specific notice and an opportunity to respond is particularly important in cases, such as the one before us, in which the sanctions have been imposed on the clients and not the attorneys. See Donaldson v. Clark, 819 F.2d 1551, 1560 (11th Cir.1987) (“If sanctions are proposed to be imposed on the client, due process will demand more specific notice because the client is likely unaware of the existence of Rule 11 and should be given the opportunity to prepare a defense.”). A separate hearing is not a prerequisite to the imposition of Rule 11 sanctions, see Donaldson, 819 F.2d at 1560 n. 12, but the defendants in this case, should have been given more of an opportunity to respond to the motion than that provided at the hearing in which the motion was first raised. Providing the defendant with an opportunity to mount a defense “on the spot” does not comport with due process. Given that the defendants were not provided with adequate notice or an opportunity to be heard, we vacate the award of sanctions and remand so that the district court can provide the defendants with an adequate opportunity to be heard.11
The basis of the Court’s prior decision as well as now is the fact that the defendants filed suit against Guevara with knowledge that the basis of the suit was unfounded. In the defendants’ file was an appraisal from an international appraisal firm, which the defendants refused to disclose during discovery and was only discovered at a bench conference during a discussion about appraisers. Based on the defendants’ own appraisers, no basis existed for a suit by the defendants against their employee.
The previous judgment entered by this Court is REINSTATED.
- The sum of US$49,450.00 or its equivalent in Philippine Pesos x x x with interest from date of demand;
- Attorney’s fees and litigation expenses in the sum of P250,000.00;
- Exemplary damages of P200,000.00; and
- Costs of the suit.16
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of [respondent] Edgardo V. Guevara ordering [petitioner] BPI Securities Corporation to pay [respondent] the following:
An award of exemplary damages for P200,000.00 is denied for being speculative.27
- the sum of US$49,500.00 with legal interest from the filing of this case until fully paid;
- the sum of P250,000.00 as attorney’s fees and litigation expenses; and
- the costs of suit.
- The trial court erred in not passing upon the merit or validity of [petitioner’s] defenses against the enforcement of the foreign judgment in the Philippines.
Had the trial court considered [petitioner’s] defenses, it would have concluded that the foreign judgment was not enforceable because it was made upon a clear mistake of law or fact and/or was made in violation of the [petitioner’s] right to due process.
- The trial court erred in not utilizing the standard for determining the enforceability of the foreign award that was agreed upon by the parties to this case during the pre-trial, namely, did the defendants in the Houston case (PHILSEC, AIFL, AND ATHONA) have reasonable grounds to implead [respondent] in the Houston case based upon the body of the evidence submitted therein. Thus, whether or not PHILSEC, AIFL and ATHONA ultimately prevailed against [respondent] was immaterial or irrelevant; the question only was whether they had reasonable grounds to proceed against him, for if they had, then there was admittedly no basis for the Rule 11 award against them by the Houston Court.
x x x x
- In the light of its ruling, the trial court failed to pass upon and resolve the other issues and/or defenses expressly raised by [petitioner], including the defense that PHILSEC, AIFL, and ATHONA were deprived of their right to defend themselves against the Rule 11 sanction and the main decision because of the prohibitive cost of legal representation in the us and also because of the gross negligence of its US counsel. x x x.28
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 11 September 2000 in Civil Case No. 92-1445 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 57, is hereby AFFIRMED in all respect with costs against [petitioner].29
There is no obligatory rule derived from treaties or conventions that requires the Philippines to recognize foreign judgments, or allow a procedure for the enforcement thereof. However, generally accepted principles of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of the Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if they do not derive from treaty obligations. The classical formulation in international law sees those customary rules accepted as binding result from the combination two elements: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a psychological element known as the opinion juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.
While the definite conceptual parameters of the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have not been authoritatively established, the Court can assert with certainty that such an undertaking is among those generally accepted principles of international law. As earlier demonstrated, there is a widespread practice among states accepting in principle the need for such recognition and enforcement, albeit subject to limitations of varying degrees. The fact that there is no binding universal treaty governing the practice is not indicative of a widespread rejection of the principle, but only a disagreement as to the imposable specific rules governing the procedure for recognition and enforcement.
Aside from the widespread practice, it is indubitable that the procedure for recognition and enforcement is embodied in the rules of law, whether statutory or jurisprudential, adopted in various foreign jurisdictions. In the Philippines, this is evidenced primarily by Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which has existed in its current form since the early 1900s. Certainly, the Philippine legal system has long ago accepted into its jurisprudence and procedural rules the viability of an action for enforcement of foreign judgment, as well as the requisites for such valid enforcement, as derived from internationally accepted doctrines. Again, there may be distinctions as to the rules adopted by each particular state, but they all prescind from the premise that there is a rule of law obliging states to allow for, however generally, the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment. The bare principle, to our mind, has attained the status of opinio juris in international practice.
This is a significant proposition, as it acknowledges that the procedure and requisites outlined in Section 48, Rule 39 derive their efficacy not merely from the procedural rule, but by virtue of the incorporation clause of the Constitution. Rules of procedure are promulgated by the Supreme Court, and could very well be abrogated or revised by the high court itself. Yet the Supreme Court is obliged, as are all State components, to obey the laws of the land, including generally accepted principles of international law which form part thereof, such as those ensuring the qualified recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. (Citations omitted.)
SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. – The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:
(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title to the thing; and
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
There is an evident distinction between a foreign judgment in an action in rem and one in personam. For an action in rem, the foreign judgment is deemed conclusive upon the title to the thing, while in an action in personam, the foreign judgment is presumptive, and not conclusive, of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title. However, in both cases, the foreign judgment is susceptible to impeachment in our local courts on the grounds of want of jurisdiction or notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. Thus, the party aggrieved by the foreign judgment is entitled to defend against the enforcement of such decision in the local forum. It is essential that there should be an opportunity to challenge the foreign judgment, in order for the court in this jurisdiction to properly determine its efficacy.
It is clear then that it is usually necessary for an action to be filed in order to enforce a foreign judgment, even if such judgment has conclusive effect as in the case of in rem actions, if only for the purpose of allowing the losing party an opportunity to challenge the foreign judgment, and in order for the court to properly determine its efficacy. Consequently, the party attacking a foreign judgment has the burden of overcoming the presumption of its validity.
The rules are silent as to what initiatory procedure must be undertaken in order to enforce a foreign judgment in the Philippines. But there is no question that the filing of a civil complaint is an appropriate measure for such purpose. A civil action is one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, and clearly an action to enforce a foreign judgment is in essence a vindication of a right prescinding either from a “conclusive judgment upon title” or the “presumptive evidence of a right.” Absent perhaps a statutory grant of jurisdiction to a quasi-judicial body, the claim for enforcement of judgment must be brought before the regular courts.
There are distinctions, nuanced but discernible, between the cause of action arising from the enforcement of a foreign judgment, and that arising from the facts or allegations that occasioned the foreign judgment. They may pertain to the same set of facts, but there is an essential difference in the right-duty correlatives that are sought to be vindicated. For example, in a complaint for damages against a tortfeasor, the cause of action emanates from the violation of the right of the complainant through the act or omission of the respondent. On the other hand, in a complaint for the enforcement of a foreign judgment awarding damages from the same tortfeasor, for the violation of the same right through the same manner of action, the cause of action derives not from the tortious act but from the foreign judgment itself.
More importantly, the matters for proof are different. Using the above example, the complainant will have to establish before the court the tortious act or omission committed by the tortfeasor, who in turn is allowed to rebut these factual allegations or prove extenuating circumstances. Extensive litigation is thus conducted on the facts, and from there the right to and amount of damages are assessed. On the other hand, in an action to enforce a foreign judgment, the matter left for proof is the foreign judgment itself, and not the facts from which it prescinds.
As stated in Section 48, Rule 39, the actionable issues are generally restricted to a review of jurisdiction of the foreign court, the service of personal notice, collusion, fraud, or mistake of fact or law. The limitations on review [are] in consonance with a strong and pervasive policy in all legal systems to limit repetitive litigation on claims and issues. Otherwise known as the policy of preclusion, it seeks to protect party expectations resulting from previous litigation, to safeguard against the harassment of defendants, to insure that the task of courts not be increased by never-ending litigation of the same disputes, and – in a larger sense – to promote what Lord Coke in the Ferrer’s Case of 1599 stated to be the goal of all law: “rest and quietness.” If every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her original cause of action, rendering immaterial the previously concluded litigation.36 (Emphases supplied, citations omitted.)
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.
Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final order against a person creates a “presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.” Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of Court states that “the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.” Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on foreign judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign judgment. Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can only be repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e., “want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.” The rule on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency and the protection of party expectations, as well as respecting the jurisdiction of other states. (Emphases supplied, citations omitted.)
[Petitioner’s] contention that the judgment sought to be enforced herein is violative of its right to due process and contrary to public policy because the Houston Court relied upon Exhibit 91 (which is [petitioner BPI Securities’] Exh. “1” in this case) and the US Court disregarded the evidence on record in the Houston Action is unavailing. Whether or not said Exhibit 91 (petitioner’s Exh. “1”) is inadmissible or is not entitled to any weight is a question which should have been addressed to the US of Court of Appeals by [petitioner]. To ask a Philippine court to pass upon the admissibility or weight of Exh. 91 is violative of our public policy not to substitute our judgment for that of a competent court of another jurisdiction.
[Petitioner] does not deny the fact that the judgment awarding sanctions based on [Rule 11 of the U.S.] Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which remanded the case to the District Court precisely to give [petitioner] a reasonable opportunity to be heard. After remand, the District Court ordered [petitioner] to file its response to the motion of [respondent] for sanctions and after the filing of their respective briefs, the District Court reinstated the former judgment.
Certainly, under these circumstances, the claim of violation of due process cannot be sustained since [petitioner] was given reasonable opportunity to present its side before the imposition of sanctions.
x x x x
[Petitioner] likewise argued that the US District Court committed a clear mistake of law or fact and in support thereof presented Exhibits “10” to “18” to establish that the fair market value of the Houston property in January 1983 was no longer US$800,000.00 by the admissions against interest of 1488 itself, of Craig who submitted the fraudulent appraisal, and by the previous owners of the said property and to “show that [respondent] Guevara was either directly involved in the conspiracy against the Houston defendants in submitting to the latter a fraudulent appraisal of W. Craig (or was at least responsible to the Houston defendants for the injury that they suffered) and that the Houston defendants had reasonable basis to implead him as a defendant in the Houston Case on account of his participation in the conspiracy or his fault of responsibility for the injury suffered by them.”
However, none of these documents show that [respondent] had any participation nor knowledge in the execution, custody or other intervention with respect to the said. Thus, said Exhibits “10” to “18” are irrelevant and immaterial to the issue of the enforceability of a foreign judgment. It must be emphasized that the imposition of the sanctions under [Rule 11 of the U.S.] Federal Rules of Civil Procedure did not flow from the merits of the civil case in the US District Court but from the lack of even an iota of evidence against [respondent] Guevara. To quote the US District Court:THE COURT
x x x x
I am disturbed about that. I don’t see any evidence at all in this case, after listening to all of this evidence, that there ever was a lawsuit that could have been brought against Guevara, and even after all of the discovery was done, there was still no evidence of a conspiracy. There is no evidence of any conspiracy to this good day that he could have been, but there is no proof of it, and that’s what we base these lawsuits on. That’s what the Rule 11 is designed to do, to deal with the circumstance.
So, I brought it up to Mr. Guevara because I know the frustration, and irrespective as to whether or not he brought it up, it would have been my position, my own position as an officer of this Court to sanction the defendants in this case. That is my opinion, that they are to be sanctioned because they have brought all of the power that they have in the Philippines to bear and put pressure on this man so that he would have to come over 10,000 miles to defend himself or to hire lawyers to defend himself against a totally frivolous claim.39 (Emphases supplied.)
It is noted that the petition for review merely generally alleges that starting from its page 5, the decision of the RTC “copied verbatim the allegations of herein Respondents in its Memorandum before the said court,” as if “the Memorandum was the draft of the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig,” but fails to specify either the portions allegedly lifted verbatim from the memorandum, or why she regards the decision as copied. The omission renders the petition for review insufficient to support her contention, considering that the mere similarity in language or thought between Printwell’s memorandum and the trial court’s decision did not necessarily justify the conclusion that the RTC simply lifted verbatim or copied from the memorandum.
It is to be observed in this connection that a trial or appellate judge may occasionally view a party’s memorandum or brief as worthy of due consideration either entirely or partly. When he does so, the judge may adopt and incorporate in his adjudication the memorandum or the parts of it he deems suitable, and yet not be guilty of the accusation of lifting or copying from the memorandum. This is because of the avowed objective of the memorandum to contribute in the proper illumination and correct determination of the controversy. Nor is there anything untoward in the congruence of ideas and views about the legal issues between himself and the party drafting the memorandum. The frequency of similarities in argumentation, phraseology, expression, and citation of authorities between the decisions of the courts and the memoranda of the parties, which may be great or small, can be fairly attributable to the adherence by our courts of law and the legal profession to widely know nor universally accepted precedents set in earlier judicial actions with identical factual milieus or posing related judicial dilemmas. (Citations omitted.)
On the specific claim that petitioner has been denied legal representation in the United States in view of the exorbitant legal fees of US counsel, petitioner is now estopped from asserting that the costs of litigation resulted in a denial of due process because it was petitioner which impleaded Guevara. If petitioner cannot prosecute a case to its final stages, then it should not have filed a counterclaim against Guevara in the first place. Moreover, there is no showing that petitioner could not find a less expensive counsel. Surely, petitioner could have secured the services of another counsel whose fees were more “affordable.”41
The general rule is that a client is bound by the acts, even mistakes, of his counsel in the realm of procedural technique. The basis is the tenet that an act performed by counsel within the scope of a “general or implied authority” is regarded as an act of the client. While the application of this general rule certainly depends upon the surrounding circumstances of a given case, there are exceptions recognized by this Court: “(1) where reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process of law; (2) when its application will result in outright deprivation of the client’s liberty or property; or (3) where the interests of justice so require.”
The present case does not fall under the said exceptions. In Amil v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that “to fall within the exceptional circumstance relied upon x x x, it must be shown that the negligence of counsel must be so gross that the client is deprived of his day in court. Thus, “where a party was given the opportunity to defend [its] interests in due course, [it] cannot be said to have been denied due process of law, for this opportunity to be heard is the very essence of due process.” To properly claim gross negligence on the part of the counsel, the petitioner must show that the counsel was guilty of nothing short of a clear abandonment of the client’s cause. (Citations omitted.)
1Rollo, pp. 87-103; penned by Associate Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria with Associate Justices Mercedes Gozo-Dadole and Rosmari D. Carandang, concurring.
2 Id. at 105-112; penned by Associate Justice Marina L. Buzon with Associate Justices Mario L. Guariña III and Santiago Javier Ranada, concurring.
3 Id. at 113-117.
4 Records (Vol. I), pp. 7-9; penned by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt.
5 http://www.ayala.com.ph/about_us/page/about-ayala (Last visited on March 3, 2015)
6 Records (Vol. I), pp. 58-69.
7 Rule 11. Signing of Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Sanctions.
Every pleading, motion, and other paper of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s individual name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign the party’s pleading, motion, or other paper and state the party’s address. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The rule in equity that the averments of an answer under oath must be overcome by the testimony of two witnesses or of one witness sustained by corroborating circumstances is abolished. The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by the signer that the signer has read the pleading, motion, or other paper, that to the best of the signer’s knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation. If a pleading, motion, or other paper is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the pleader or movant. If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, including a reasonable attorney’s fee. (Records [Vol. I], p. 636.)
8 Records (Vol. I), p. 9.
9 Id. at 268-271.
10 Id. at 271-272.
11 Id. at 274-275.
12 Id. at 277-278.
13 Id. at 279-288.
14 Id. at 289-298 and 591-598.
15 Id. at 10-11.
16 Id. at 3.
17 Id. at 328.
18 Id. at 574, 651, and 665.
19 Id. at 636.
20 Id. at 578-580, 589-590, and 619-620.
21 Id. at 581-588.
22 Id. at 609-618 and 591-598.
23 Records (Vols. II-V); Exhibits 1-46.
24 Id.; Exhibits 47-51.
25 Id.; Exhibit 52.
26 Records (Vol. I), pp. 575 and 640; 679 and 714.
27Rollo, p. 117.
28 CA rollo, pp. 20-21.
29Rollo, p. 102.
30 CA rollo, pp. 180-197.
31 Id. at 250-251.
32 Id. at 260-267.
33 495 Phil. 372, 395-397 (2005).
34St. Aviation Services Co., Pte., Ltd. v. Grand International Airways, Inc., 535 Phil. 757, 762 (2006).
35 See Florenz D. Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Volume II (Ninth Revised Edition), p. 524; citing Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., 93 Phil. 1035 (1953).
36Mijares v. Rañada, supra note 33 at 383-386.
37 G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013, 700 SCRA 69, 91-92.
38Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi Enterprises, Inc., 396 Phil. 893, 909-910 (2000).
39Rollo, pp. 115-117.
40 G.R. No. 157549, May 30, 2011, 649 SCRA 116, 130-131.
41 Rollo, p. 176.
42 G.R. No. 176834, November 21, 2012, 686 SCRA 102, 108.
43 Following the guidelines on interest in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 97412, July 12, 1994, 234 SCRA 78, 95-97) and Nacar v. Gallery Frames (G.R. No. 189871, August 13, 2013, 703 SCRA 439, 457-459).