Examples of natural obligations


A natural obligation is an obligation that has no legal basis and hence does not give a right of action to enforce its performance. It is based on equity, morality, and natural law, and should be voluntary. philawgov.wikia.org.

When a right to sue upon a civil obligation has lapsed by extinctive prescription, the obligor who voluntarily performs the contract cannot recover what he has delivered or the value of the service he has rendered. (Article 1424)

The above provision is called "prescribed civil obligation." The voluntary performance or payment by the obligor despite prescription thereof converts it to a natural obligation. However, four requisites must be present, to wit: [1] a civil obligation; [2] the right of action over such civil obligation having lapsed; [3] the lapse being due to extinctive prescriptive; and [4] performance or payment done voluntarily. The effect of this is that the obligor can no longer recover what he has delivered or the value of the service he rendered.

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When without the knowledge or against the will of the debtor, a third person pays a debt which the obligor is not legally bound to pay because the action thereon has prescribed, but the debtor later voluntarily reimburses the third person, the obligor cannot recover what he has paid. (Article 1425)

The above provision is called "reimbursement for payment by third person for a prescribed civil obligation." This is different from Article 1424 because there is a third person who makes the payment.

For Article 1425 to apply, the following requisites must concur: [1] a debt; [2] the right of action over the debt having prescribed; [3] payment made by a third person; [4] such payment being against the will or without the knowledge of the debtor; and [5] debtor's act of reimbursing the third person for the payment made. In this case, the debtor can no longer recover what he has paid; this is a natural obligation.

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When a minor between eighteen and twenty-one years of age who has entered into a contract without the consent of the parent or guardian, after the annulment of the contract voluntarily returns the whole thing or price received, notwithstanding the fact that he has not been benefited thereby, there is no right to demand the thing or price thus returned. (Article 1426)

In the above provision, there is a prior annulment of the contract and good faith is not a requirement.

When a minor between eighteen and twenty-one years of age, who has entered into a contract without the consent of the parent or guardian, voluntarily pays a sum of money or delivers a fungible thing in fulfillment of the obligation, there shall be no right to recover the same from the obligee who has spent or consumed it in good faith. (Article 1427)

In Article 1427, no prior annulment of the contract is required but good faith is an element. This means that the consumption of the money or fungible things must be in good faith.

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When, after an action to enforce a civil obligation has failed, the defendant voluntarily performs the obligation, he cannot demand the return of what he has delivered or the payment of the value of the service he has rendered. (Article 1428)

The above provision is called "voluntary performance despite failed action." This is a natural obligation triggered by the dismissal of the action or unfavorable judgment and the subsequent performance by the defendant of the obligation attempted to be enforced through the failed court action. Again, the consequence is that the defendant who pays or performs cannot recover.

"Failed" is a general term which is not even used in the rules on civil procedure. Therefore, it covers a dismissal on technical grounds or a judgment on the merits.

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When a testate or intestate heir voluntarily pays a debt of the decedent exceeding the value of the property which he received by will or by the law of intestacy from the estate of the deceased, the payment is valid and cannot be rescinded by the payer. (Article 1429)

The above provision is called "payment by heir." The requisites are: [1] the decedent incurred a debt; [2] his heir voluntary pays the debt; and [3] the debt exceeds the value of the heir's share.

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When a will is declared void because it has not been executed in accordance with the formalities required by law, but one of the intestate heirs, after the settlement of the debts of the deceased, pays a legacy in compliance with a clause in the defective will, the payment is effective and irrevocable. (Article 1430)

The above provision is called "payment of legacy by intestate heir." The requisites are: [1] there is a will; [2] the will provides a legacy; [3] the will is declared void due to formalities; and [4] an intestate heir nevertheless pays the legacy.

Note that the law distinguishes between intrinsic validity and formal validity. If the nullity of the will is due to intrinsic defects, Article 1430 does not apply.

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