Accion in rem verso

Article 22 of the New Civil Code reads:

Every person who, through an act of performance by another, or any other means, acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him.In order that accion in rem verso may prosper, the essential elements must be present: (1) that the defendant has been enriched, (2) that the plaintiff has suffered a loss, (3) that the enrichment of the defendant is without just or legal ground, and (4) that the plaintiff has no other action based on contract, quasi-contract, crime or quasi-delict.

An accion in rem verso is considered merely an auxiliary action, available only when there is no other remedy on contract, quasi-contract, crime, and quasi-delict. If there is an obtainable action under any other institution of positive law, that action must be resorted to, and the principle of accion in rem verso will not lie. (G.R. No. 172525, October 20, 2010)

Paras gives a more comprehensive list of essential elements for accion in rem verso:
  1. One party must be enriched and the other made poorer;
  2. There must be a casual relation between the two;
  3. The enrichment must not be justifiable (so if the law itself allows the enrichment, or if the enrichment results from a contract or from the impoverished person’s own negligence, there can be no recovery);
  4. There must be no other way to recover (so if, for example, a tort action or a quasi-contract action is proper, it is not necessary to fi le a claim in rem verso). See Reyes and Puno, Outline of Phil. Civil Law, Vol. 1, pp. 42-43; Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code, Vol. 1; and
  5. The indemnity cannot exceed the loss or enrichment, whichever is less. (Reyes and Puno, Outline of Phil. Civil Law, Vol. 1).

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