Genossenschaft theory v. imprimatur doctrine

Let's start with the undeniable premise that a corporation is an artificial being created by operation of law. It owes its life to the state, its birth being purely dependent on its will. As Berle so aptly stated: "Classically, a corporation was conceived as an artificial person, owing its existence through creation by a sovereign power." As a matter of fact, the statutory language employed owes much to Chief Justice Marshall, who in the Dartmouth College decision defined a corporation precisely as "an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law."

The well-known authority Fletcher could summarize the matter thus: "A corporation is not in fact and in reality a person, but the law treats it as though it were a person by process of fiction, or by regarding it as an artificial person distinct and separate from its individual stockholders.... It owes its existence to law. It is an artificial person created by law for certain specific purposes, the extent of whose existence, powers and liberties is fixed by its charter." Dean Pound's terse summary, a juristic person, resulting from an association of human beings granted legal personality by the state, puts the matter neatly.

There is thus a rejection of Gierke's genossenchaft theory, the basic theme of which to quote from Friedmann, "is the reality of the group as a social and legal entity, independent of state recognition and concession." A corporation as known to Philippine jurisprudence is a creature without any existence until it has received the imprimatur of the state according to law. It is logically inconceivable therefore that it will have rights and privileges of a higher priority than that of its creator. More than that, it cannot legitimately refuse to yield obedience to acts of its state organs, certainly not excluding the judiciary, whenever called upon to do so.

As a matter of fact, a corporation once it comes into being, following American law still of persuasive authority in our jurisdiction, comes more often within the ken of the judiciary than the other two coordinate branches. It institutes the appropriate court action to enforce its right. Correlatively, it is not immune from judicial control in those instances, where a duty under the law as ascertained in an appropriate legal proceeding is cast upon it.

To assert that it can choose which court order to follow and which to disregard is to confer upon it not autonomy which may be conceded but license which cannot be tolerated. It is to argue that it may, when so minded, overrule the state, the source of its very existence; it is to contend that what any of its governmental organs may lawfully require could be ignored at will. So extravagant a claim cannot possibly merit approval. (G.R. No. L-23145. November 29, 1968)

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