Negative pregnant

There is a particular denial that has the earmark of what is called in the law on pleadings as a negative pregnant, that is, a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading responded to which are not squarely denied. It is in effect an admission of the averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of negative expression which carries with it an affirmation or at least an implication of some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant with an admission of the substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is alleged with qualifying or modifying language and the words of the allegation as so qualified or modified are literally denied, it has been held that the qualifying circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is admitted.[1]
If an allegation is not specifically denied or the denial is a negative pregnant, the allegation is deemed admitted. Where a fact is alleged with some qualifying or modifying language, and the denial is conjunctive, a 'negative pregnant' exists, and only the qualification or modification is denied, while the fact itself is admitted. A denial in the form of a negative pregnant is an ambiguous pleading, since it cannot be ascertained whether it is the fact or only the qualification that is intended to be denied. Profession of ignorance about a fact which is patently and necessarily within the pleader's knowledge, or means of knowing as ineffectual, is no denial at all.[2]

[1] Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan, 453 Phil. 1059, 1107 (2003).

[2] Venzon v. Rural Bank of Buenavista (Agusan del Norte), Inc., G.R. No. 178031, August 28, 2013, 704 SCRA 138, 147-148.

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