Joint Indivisible Obligations; Article 1224

Article 1224. A joint indivisible obligation gives rise to indemnity for damages from the time anyone of the debtors does not comply with his undertaking. The debtors who may have been ready to fulfill their promises shall not contribute to the indemnity beyond the corresponding portion of the price of the thing or of the value of the service in which the obligation consists.

If two (or more, actually) debtors are jointly bound to perform an obligation, the creditor’s right to claim damages arises from the time that one of the debtors failed to do or give what is incumbent upon him. Nevertheless, the debtor who did not fail to perform the obligation but was in fact ready to do or give what was incumbent upon him is not required to pay damages more than what is compatible with his share of the price of the thing or of the value of the service that was required of him.

What do we mean when we say “joint indivisible obligation”?

In a joint indivisible obligation, the debtors are bound only to the extent of their share in the obligation which can only be performed totally or completely, not partially.

For example, A and B, who are a popular duet, are jointly bound to sing in a concert organized by C. A, at the time when they were already bound to comply with their promise, went missing. Nevertheless, B was not so and in fact, was ready to perform. If all the expenses to cover the concert and damages required by C amount to Php 1,000,000, what is left for B to do? She can pay C Php 500,000. This amount corresponds to her portion of the value of the service which the obligation consists.

Conversion into Monetary Indemnity

The debtor who is ready to comply with what is incumbent upon him despite the fact that the other debtor with him he is jointly bound cannot so comply can release himself from the shackles of obligation by converting the price of the thing to be delivered or the value of the service to be rendered into a monetary indemnity and pay the same to the creditor. This will free him from the obligation.

What if the obligation is one that is solidary and indivisible?

If the obligation is solidary and at the same time, indivisible, the creditor can demand the whole, total or complete price of the thing to be delivered or the whole, total or complete value of the service to be rendered from either of his creditors. This, of course, is without prejudice to the right of that debtor to reimburse from the other.

For example, A and B are solidarily bound to deliver an ice sculpture of the Greek God Poseidon to C, who is an enthusiast of such form of arts. B, however, failed to contribute, which rendered the obligation impossible to fulfill. Assuming that the value of the thing is in the amount of Php 1,000,000, how much can C collect from A? C can collect the whole amount from A.