Exemplary Damages & Attorney's Fees; When Due?

Under Article 2229 of the Civil Code, exemplary or corrective damages are imposed by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated, or compensatory damages. In the instant case, the award of exemplary damages in favor of respondents is in order for the purpose of deterring those who intend to enforce their rights by taking measures or remedies which are not in accord with law and public policy. On the part of respondent bank, the public relies on a bank's sworn profession of diligence and meticulousness in giving irreproachable service. Hence, the level of meticulousness must be maintained at all times by the banking sector. In the present case the award of exemplary damages is justified by the brazen acts of petitioners Rosita and Alice in violating the law coupled with the gross negligence committed by respondent bank and its officers in allowing the subject check to be deposited which later paved the way for its encashment.

As to attorney's fees, Article 2208 of the same Code provides, among others, that attorney's fees may be recovered when exemplary damages are awarded or when the defendant's act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest. (G.R. No. 155033; December 19, 2007)