Respect for neighbors (Article 26, Civil Code)

Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief:
(1) Prying into the privacy of another’s residence;
(2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another;
(3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends;
(4) Vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect, or other personal condition. (Article 26, Civil Code)

Article 26 above is a more specific re-echoing of Article 19 of the same Code that says: "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 26 specifies and emphasizes the importance of peace of mind and respect for neighbors (and other people).

People who pry into the privacy of others and their residence, those who meddle and disturb the private lives and family relations of others, those who intrigue to cause others to be alienated by the latter's friends and those who vex or humiliate others because of the latter's personal conditions do not inspire decency and propriety. Such acts do not enhance dignity and personality. A society of laws requires that we as a people refrain from these acts.

According to the Code Commission which drafted the Civil Code, the sacredness of human personality is a concomitant of every plan for human amelioration. The touchstone of every system of laws, of the culture and civilization of every country, is how far it dignifies man. If in legislation, inadequate regard is observed for human life and safety; if the laws do not sufficiently forestall human suffering or do not try effectively to curb those factors or influences that wound the noblest sentiments; if the statutes insufficiently protect persons from being unjustly humiliated; in short, if human personality is not properly exalted — then the laws are indeed defective.

Prying into the privacy of another's residence includes by implication respect for another’s name, picture, or personality except insofar as is needed for publication of information and pictures of legitimate news value. (Prosser, Torts, p. 1050)

Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another includes alienation of the affections of the husband or the wife. (Prosser, Torts, p. 916) Thus, a girl who makes love to a married man, even if there be no carnal relations, disturbs his family life, and she may be asked to pay damages. (Paras)

Alienation of the affection of another’s wife or husband, unless it constitutes adultery or concubinage, is not condemned by the law, much as it may shock society. There are numerous acts, short of criminal unfaithfulness, whereby the husband or wife breaks the marital vows, thus causing untold moral suffering to the other spouse. Why should not these acts be the subject-matter of a civil ac- tion for moral damages? In American law they are. (Commission Report, p. 32-34)

Vexing or humiliating includes criticism of one's health or features without justiļ¬able legal cause. (138 A.L.R. 25) Religious freedom does not authorize anyone to heap obloquy and disrepute upon another by reason of the latter's religion. (Commission Report, p. 33)

Not a few of the rich people treat the poor with con- tempt because of the latter’s lowly station in life. To a certain extent this is inevitable, from the nature of the social make-up, but there ought to be a limit somewhere, even when the penal laws against defamation and unjust vexation are not transgressed. In a democracy, such a limit must be established. The courts will recognize it in each case. Social equity is not sought by Article 26, but due regard for decency and propriety. Place of birth, physical defect and other personal conditions are too often the pretext of humiliation cast upon persons. Such tampering with human personality, even though the penal laws are not violated, should be the cause of a civil action. (Report of the Code Commission, pp. 32-34)

Popular Posts