'Spirit giving life' vs. 'Letter that kills'

According to the Code Commission that drafted the Civil Code of the Philippines, the provisions thereof prioritize "the spirit that giveth life" over "the letter that killeth." (Report, page 26) This means that equity and justice are above strict adherence to the literal meaning of the law.
According to Aquino (2005), these general considerations are embodied in Articles 21 and 26 of the Civil Code. Therefore, justice and equity demand that persons who may have been damaged by the wrongful or negligent act of another are compensated.

These guidelines in human relations demand and require that justice be given and done. This may be in the form of compensation, restitution, indemnification or any other relief. For example, a person made poorer by another who has been benefited, with or without fault or negligence, must be indemnified. This example is called the principle of unjust enrichment.

According to Hulst v. PR Builders (G.R. No. 156364, September 3, 2007), unjust enrichment exists when a person unjustly retains a benefit at the loss of another, or when a person retains money or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience. The prevention of unjust enrichment is a recognized public policy of the State, for Article 22 of the Civil Code explicitly provides that "[e]very 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." It is well to note that Article 22 "is part of the chapter of the Civil Code on Human Relations, the provisions of which were formulated as basic principles to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social order; designed to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good conscience; guides for human conduct that should run as golden threads through society to the end that law may approach its supreme ideal which is the sway and dominance of justice." (Gonzalo v. Tarnate, G.R. No. 160600, January 15, 2014)

"Some norm or standard must be available whereby the compromise or adjustment may take place. This notion is concealed in the philosophic notion of justice. Interests are to be adjusted in a manner that is just." (Harper on Torts, pp. 3-4) Law is conceived as a justice-seeking process and particular laws are therefore evaluated on the basis of their contribution to the ideal of justice. (Bill Shaw and Art Wolfe, The Structure of Legal Environment, 1991 Ed., pp. 22-23)

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