The concept of quasi-delicts in the Philippines

Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict. (Art. 2176 of the Civil Code) In other words, compensation must be paid to a person suffering damage because of the act or omission of another, there being no pre-existing obligation arising from contracts.Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict is limited to negligent acts or omissions and excludes the notion of willfulness or intent.

Quasi-delict, known in Spanish legal treatises as culpa aquiliana, is a civil law concept while torts is an Anglo-American or common law concept. Torts is much broader than culpa aquiliana because it includes not only negligence, but intentional criminal acts as well such as assault and battery, false imprisonment and deceit.

In the general scheme of the Philippine legal system envisioned by the Commission (headed by Jorge Bocobo) responsible for drafting the New Civil Code, intentional and malicious acts, with certain exceptions, are to be governed by the Revised Penal Code while negligent acts or omissions are to be covered by Article 2176 of the Civil Code.

In between these opposite spectrums are injurious acts which, in the absence of Article 21, would have been beyond redress. Thus, Article 21 fills that vacuum. It is even postulated that together with Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code, Article 21 has greatly broadened the scope of the law on civil wrongs; it has become much more supple and adaptable than the Anglo-American law on torts. (G.R. No. 97336. February 19, 1993)

In short, criminal acts or omission, whether intentional or negligent (Article 365), are governed by the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (Act 3815). Whereas, no-crime negligent acts or omissions are covered by the Civil Code, specially Article 2176. Finally, intentional acts which are injurious to other persons but are not criminal in nature or are no longer susceptible of criminal prosecution for any reason are governed by Article 19, 20 and 21.