A right, if abused, becomes illegal

Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. (Article 19, Civil Code of the Philippines)

A right, though by itself legal because recognized or granted by law as such, may nevertheless become the source of some illegality. Thus, when a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19 of the Code and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be held responsible. Article 19, known to contain what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, sets certain standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one’s rights but also in the performance of one’s duties. These standards are the following: to act with justice; to give everyone his due; and to observe honesty and good faith. The law, therefore, recognizes a primordial limitation on all rights; that in their exercise, the norms of human conduct set forth in Article 19 must be observed.

In determining whether or not the principle of abuse of rights may be invoked, there is no rigid test which can be applied. While the Court has not hesitated to apply Article 19 whether the legal and factual circumstances called for its application the question of whether or not the principle of abuse of rights has been violated resulting in damages under Article 20 or Article 21 or other applicable provision of law, depends on the circumstances of each case. (See for e.g., Velayo v. Shell Co. of the Phil., Ltd., 100 Phil. 186 (1956); PNB v. CA, supra; Grand Union Supermarket, Inc. v. Espino, Jr., G.R. No. L-48250, December 28, 1979, 94 SCRA 953; PAL v. CA, G.R. No. L-46558, July 31, 1981, 106 SCRA 391; United General Industries, Inc. v. Paler, G.R. No. L-30205, March 15, 1982, 112 SCRA 404; Rubio v. CA, G.R. No. 50911, August 21, 1987, 153 SCRA 183)