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[ G.R. No.

20435, October 23, 1923 ]


LUIS ASIAIN, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT, VS. BENJAMIN JALANDONI
Malcolm, J .

Facts: Asiain and Jalandoni owned adjacent haciendas in La Carlota, Negros
Occidental. In May 1920, Asiain told Jalandoni that he was willing to sell a portion
of his hacienda for of P55,000. With a wave of his hand, Asiain indicated the land
in question, saying it contained 25-30 hectares, and that the crop of sugarcane
then planted would produce not less than 2,000 piculs of sugar. Jalandoni
remained doubtful about the size of the land throughout the negotiations, so
Asiain repeatedly reassured him. They entered into a memorandum-agreement
for a "Purchase of land...containing 25 hectares more or less of land..." Jalandoni
paid P30,000 upon signing. Once in possession of the land, he had the
sugarcane ground and the land surveyed. The output was 80 piculs and the land
area was 18.5 hectares. Because the balance remained unpaid, Asiain filed an
action either to recover the sum of P25,000, or to obtain the certificate of title plus
rent. Jalandoni filed a counter-complaint asking for the annulment of the contract
and mutual restitution, plus damages. CFI judge annulled the contract and
ordered the refund of the P30,000 and the return of the land and title.

W/N rescission is proper based on the discrepancy on the size - YES

Ratio: It was a sale in gross in which there was a mutual mistake as to the
quantity of land sold and as to the amount of the standing crop. The phrase
"more or less" in the memorandum-agreement covers only a reasonable excess
or deficiency. This was a case of gross deficiency. The mistake with reference to
the subject matter of the contract is such that, at the option of the purchaser, it is
rescindable. Without such mistake the agreement would not have been made.
Hence, the agreement is inoperative and void. The ultimate result is to put the
parties back in exactly their respective positions before they became involved in
the negotiations and before accomplishment of the agreement.

Authorities and jurisprudence cited:
Belknap v. Sealey ("nine acres, more or less", but the quantity was only
half) - If the true quantity had been known, the contract would not have
been made. Equity will rescind a contract for the sale of land for mutual
mistake as to the quantity of land which the boundaries given in the
contract contained, where the deficiency is material. "More or less," used
in the contract in connection with the statement of the quantity, will not
prevent the granting of such relief.
Manresa, interpreting Old Civil Code Art. 1471 - If the vendor can deliver,
there can be no claim either on his part, although the area may be found
to be much greater, nor on the part of the purchaser although the area is
much smaller. If the vendor cannot deliver, there is no sale of a specified
thing; there is no longer a sale of the object agreed upon, and the solution
given by the article is then just and logical: Either the contract is annulled
or the price is reduced proportionately.
Cyclopedia - If in a contract of sale, the quantity of the realty is indicated
by a unit of area, a marked excess/deficiency is a ground for avoiding the
contract. If it is for the sale of a particular tract designated by lot or parcel,
a mutual mistake as to quantity is not a ground for rescission.
Ruling Case Law - For the purpose of determining whether relief shall be
granted the courts have divided the cases into two general classes: (1)
Where the sale is of a specific quantity which is usually denominated a
sale by the acre; (2) where the sale is of a specific tract by name or
description, which is usually called a sale in gross. A sales in gross can be
further classified. This case falls under the third kind: "sales in which it is
evident, from extraneous circumstances of locality, value, price, time, and
the conduct and conversations of the parties, that they did not
contemplate or intend to risk more than the usual rates of excess or
deficit". An unreasonable surplus or deficit may entitle the injured party to
equitable relief.
Bigham v. Madison - A vendee of land when it is sold in gross or with the
description "more or less" does not thereby ipso facto take all risk of
quantity in the land. The use of "more or less" or similar words in
designating quantity covers only a reasonable excess or deficiency.
Mutual mistake of the contracting parties to a sale in regard to the subject-
matter of the sale which is so material as to go to the essence of the
contract, is a ground for relief and rescission.