Roman law concepts in Philippine civil law

The Philippine Civil Code is strongly influenced by the Spanish Código Civil, which was first enforced in 1889 within the Philippines when it was still a colony of the Spanish Empire. The Código Civil remained in effect even throughout the American Occupation; by 1940, the Commonwealth Government of President Manuel Luis Quezon formed a Commission tasked with drafting a new Code. The Commission was initially headed by Chief Justice Ramón Avanceña, but its work was interrupted by the Japanese invasion and the Second World War. The Commission's records were later destroyed by Allied bombing during the Battle of Manila in 1945.In 1947, President Manuel Roxas of the Third Republic created a new Code Commission, this time headed by the former Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, Jorge Bocobo. Among the members of this new Commission were future Supreme Court Associate Justice Francisco R. Capistrano, and future Vice-President Arturo Tolentino. The Code Commission completed the final draft of the new Civil Code by December 1947, and this was submitted to Congress, which enacted it into law through Republic Act No. 386. The Civil Code took effect in 1950.

Due to its wide coverage and impact, the Civil Code is the subject of much study and extensive commentary. Several legal luminaries developed reputations as experts on the Civil Code and consequently enhanced their reputations in the field of Philippine law. These include Tolentino, who himself had helped draft it, Supreme Court Associate Justices J. B. L. Reyes, Flérida Ruth P. Romero, José Vitug, and Edgardo Paras.

Particularly about sales, under Roman Law, a sale was termed venditio. Today, the French refer to the contract as a venta, while the Spaniards call it a venta. The definition of the contract of sale in Art. 1458 is taken from Art. 1445 of the Spanish Civil Code, except that under said Spanish Code, the obligation of the vendor was merely to “deliver” the thing sold, so that even if the seller was not the owner, he might still validly sell, subject to the warranty to maintain the buyer in the legal and peaceful possession of the thing sold. The New Civil Code of the Philippines requires not only delivery but also the transfer of the ownership of the thing sold. (Report of the Code Commission, p. 141). However, the vendor need not be the owner at the time the sale is perfected. It is sufficient that he is the owner at the time the thing sold is delivered. (Art. 1459, Civil Code: The thing must be licit and the vendor must have a right to transfer the ownership thereof at the time it is delivered.)

SOURCES: Paras (2008). Civil Code Of The Philippines Annotated By Edgardo L. Paras † Litt. B., LL.B., LL.M., LL.D. Associate Justice, Supreme Court (1986-1992). 16th Edition, 2008. Volume V Articles 1458-2270 (Special Contracts).

Civil Code of the Philippines. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the same reason discussed by Paras above, there are many principles mentioned in our jurisprudence that cite Roman law tradition. Examples of these cases are:

[1] The liability of the principal for the acts of the agent is not even debatable. Law and jurisprudence are clearly and absolutely against the petitioner. Such liability dates back to the Roman Law maxim, Qui per alium facit per seipsum facere videtur. "He who does a thing by an agent is considered as doing it himself." (G.R. No. 108957)

[2] More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the constant and perpetual wish to render every one his due." That wish continues to motivate this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in every case brought to it for decision. Justice is always an essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the facts warrants, we interpret the law in a way that will render justice, presuming that it was the intention of the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be dispensed with justice. So we have done in this case. (G.R. No. 72873, citing Institutes 1, 1, pr. as cited in Handbook for Roman Law, Miravite, Lorenzo F., p. 39, 1981)

[3] A torrens title recognizes the owner whose name appears in the certificate as entitled to all the rights of ownership under the civil law. The Civil Code of the Philippines defines ownership in Articles 427, 428 and 429. This concept is based on Roman Law which the Spaniards introduced to the Philippines through the Civil Code of 1889. Ownership, under Roman Law, may be exercised over things or rights. It primarily includes the right of the owner to enjoy and dispose of the thing owned. And the right to enjoy and dispose of the thing includes the right to receive from the thing what it produces, [jus utendi; jus fruendi] the right to consume the thing by its use, [jus abutendi] the right to alienate, encumber, transform or even destroy the thing owned, [jus disponendi] and the right to exclude from the possession of the thing owned by any other person to whom the owner has not transmitted such thing [jus vindicandi]. (G.R. No. 203949)

[4] In accordance with the legislation of the Partidas, patterned after the Roman law, the contract of purchase and sale is eminently consensual and, consequently only requires consent for its perfection. In order that an instrument be necessary, it was required that this form should also be the subject of consent and that the validity of the contract be made defendant thereon: I wish a bill of sale to be made of the thing sold, was what the vendee should say to the vendor, according to the law cited, in order that he might not be bound until after the execution of the instrument. (G.R. No. 5051)

[5] Ownership, under Roman law and the legal systems based on it, such as the Civil Law of the Philippines based on the Spanish Civil Code, cannot be transferred by mere agreement. Non nudis pactis, sed traditione dominia rerum transferentur. Tradition or delivery is needed to pass ownership. As a mode of acquisition of property, it consists in putting a thing at the disposal of the person to whom one wishes to convey it. The normal mode of accomplishing this is by real traditio or actual physical handing over of the thing by the transferer to the transferee. In contrast, there may be symbolical tradition, belonging to the class called feigned or fictitious tradition, one of which is traditio brevi manu where the buyer, being already in possession of the thing sold due to some other cause such as lease, merely remains in possession after the sale is effected, but now in concept of owner. (G.R. No. 119777)

[6] In the extensive treatise on Mortgages written by Mr. Leonard A. Jones a full discussion of this and allied topics will be found, wherein the learned author points out that under the Roman Law a provision giving the mortgagee a power to sell extrajudicially was recognized as valid, and the history of the doctrines is fully traced in all its aspects through the modern decisions of the English and American courts. (G.R. No. L-19843, citing Jones, Mortgages, vol. 3, secs. 1765-1768)

[7] Under the Partidas, as under the Roman Law, no attempt was made to limit the duration of contracts with pacto de retro. Unless limited by the contract of the parties, it was generally held that the right to repurchase was perpetual. By its decision of May 12, 1875, the supreme court of Spain first attempted to place a restriction upon the length of such contracts by holding that they gave rise to a personal action of prescription in accordance with the law on prescription of actions. (23 Scaevola. 767.) In the recent times, however, practically all those countries where such sales are recognized have found it advisable to limit the time within which the right of redemption can be exercised.(4 Bonel's Com. on the Civil Code, 519.) As stated in Yadao vs. Yadao (20 Phil. Rep., 260): "A pacto de retro is, in a certain aspect, the suspension of the title to the land involved. We are of the opinion that it was the intention of the legislature to limit the continuance of such a condition, with the purpose that the title to the real estate in question should be definitely placed, it being, in the opinion of the legislature, against public policy to permit such an uncertain condition relative to the title to real estate to continue for more than ten years." Consistent with such view, this Court frowned upon agreements indicating indefinite stipulations for the exercise of the right to repurchase and restricted the redemption period to ten (10) years from the date of the contract of sale, in consonance with the provisions of the Civil Code. (G.R. No. 179025)

[8] There used to be a prevailing notion, spawned by a study of Roman Law, that the Civil Code recognizes a donation mortis as a juridical act in contraposition to a donation inter vivos. That impression persisted because the implications of article 620 of the Spanish Civil Code, now article 728, that "las donaciones que hayan de producir sus efectos pro muerte del donante participan de la naturaleza de las disposiciones de ultima voluntad, y se regiran por las reglas establecidas en el capitulo de la sucesion testamentaria" had not been fully expounded in the law schools. Notaries assumed that the donation mortis causa of the Roman Law was incorporated into the Civil Code. (G.R. No. L-33849)

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