When courts may fix period

Article 1197 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 1197. If the obligation does not fi x a period, but from its nature and the circumstances it can be inferred that a period was intended, the courts may fi x the duration thereof. 

The courts shall also fi x the duration of the period when it depends upon the will of the debtor. 

In every case, the courts shall determine such period as may under the circumstances have been probably contemplated by the parties. Once fixed by the courts, the period cannot be changed by them. (1128a)

Courts may fix the period of an obligation when: a) the obligation does not fix a period but from its nature and the circumstances it can be inferred that a period was intended; and b) the obligation depends upon the will of the debtor.

In Araneta v. Phil. Sugar Estates,[1] the Supreme Court held that courts must decide the period “probably contemplated by the parties” if the court determines that one of the circumstances are present, to wit:

a) obligation does not fix a period, but from its nature and circumstances, it can be inferred that a period was intended; 

b) the period is void, such as when it depends upon the will of the debtor; and

c) if the debtor binds himself when his means permit him to do so.


[1] Araneta v. Phil. Sugar Estates, G.R. No. L-22558 (1967).

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