Sie sind auf Seite 1von 15

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court


HEIRS OF JOSE LIM, G.R. No. 172690

represented by ELENITO LIM,
Petitioners, Present:

- versus - NACHURA,

Respondent. March 3, 2010



Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure,
assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision [2] dated June 29, 2005, which reversed and set aside the
decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lucena City, dated April 12, 2004.
The facts of the case are as follows:
Petitioners are the heirs of the late Jose Lim (Jose), namely: Jose's widow Cresencia Palad
(Cresencia); and their children Elenito, Evelia, Imelda, Edelyna and Edison, all surnamed Lim (petitioners),
represented by Elenito Lim (Elenito). They filed a Complaint [4] for Partition, Accounting and Damages against
respondent Juliet Villa Lim (respondent), widow of the late Elfledo Lim (Elfledo), who was the eldest son of
Jose and Cresencia.
Petitioners alleged that Jose was the liaison officer of Interwood Sawmill in Cagsiay, Mauban,
Quezon. Sometime in 1980, Jose, together with his friends Jimmy Yu (Jimmy) and Norberto Uy (Norberto),
formed a partnership to engage in the trucking business. Initially, with a contribution of P50,000.00 each, they
purchased a truck to be used in the hauling and transport of lumber of the sawmill. Jose managed the
operations of this trucking business until his death on August 15, 1981. Thereafter, Jose's heirs, including
Elfledo, and partners agreed to continue the business under the management of Elfledo. The shares in the
partnership profits and income that formed part of the estate of Jose were held in trust by Elfledo, with
petitioners' authority for Elfledo to use, purchase or acquire properties using said funds.
Petitioners also alleged that, at that time, Elfledo was a fresh commerce graduate serving as his
fathers driver in the trucking business. He was never a partner or an investor in the business and merely
supervised the purchase of additional trucks using the income from the trucking business of the partners. By
the time the partnership ceased, it had nine trucks, which were all registered in Elfledo's name. Petitioners
asseverated that it was also through Elfledos management of the partnership that he was able to purchase
numerous real properties by using the profits derived therefrom, all of which were registered in his name and
that of respondent. In addition to the nine trucks, Elfledo also acquired five other motor vehicles.
On May 18, 1995, Elfledo died, leaving respondent as his sole surviving heir. Petitioners claimed that
respondent took over the administration of the aforementioned properties, which belonged to the estate of
Jose, without their consent and approval. Claiming that they are co-owners of the properties, petitioners
required respondent to submit an accounting of all income, profits and rentals received from the estate of
Elfledo, and to surrender the administration thereof. Respondent refused; thus, the filing of this case.
Respondent traversed petitioners' allegations and claimed that Elfledo was himself a partner of
Norberto and Jimmy. Respondent also claimed that per testimony of Cresencia, sometime in 1980, Jose gave
Elfledo P50,000.00 as the latter's capital in an informal partnership with Jimmy and Norberto. When Elfledo
and respondent got married in 1981, the partnership only had one truck; but through the efforts of Elfledo, the
business flourished. Other than this trucking business, Elfledo, together with respondent, engaged in other
business ventures. Thus, they were able to buy real properties and to put up their own car assembly and
repair business. When Norberto was ambushed and killed on July 16, 1993, the trucking business started to
falter. When Elfledo died on May 18, 1995 due to a heart attack, respondent talked to Jimmy and to the heirs
of Norberto, as she could no longer run the business. Jimmy suggested that three out of the nine trucks be
given to him as his share, while the other three trucks be given to the heirs of Norberto. However, Norberto's
wife, Paquita Uy, was not interested in the vehicles. Thus, she sold the same to respondent, who paid for them
in installments.
Respondent also alleged that when Jose died in 1981, he left no known assets, and the partnership
with Jimmy and Norberto ceased upon his demise. Respondent also stressed that Jose left no properties that
Elfledo could have held in trust. Respondent maintained that all the properties involved in this case were
purchased and acquired through her and her husbands joint efforts and hard work, and without any
participation or contribution from petitioners or from Jose. Respondent submitted that these are conjugal
partnership properties; and thus, she had the right to refuse to render an accounting for the income or profits
of their own business.

Trial on the merits ensued. On April 12, 2004, the RTC rendered its decision in favor of petitioners, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:
1) Ordering the partition of the above-mentioned properties equally between the plaintiffs and
heirs of Jose Lim and the defendant Juliet Villa-Lim; and
2) Ordering the defendant to submit an accounting of all incomes, profits and rentals received
by her from said properties.
Aggrieved, respondent appealed to the CA.

On June 29, 2005, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC's decision, dismissing petitioners' complaint
for lack of merit. Undaunted, petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration, [5] which the CA, however,
denied in its Resolution[6] dated May 8, 2006.
Hence, this Petition, raising the sole question, viz.:

In essence, petitioners argue that according to the testimony of Jimmy, the sole surviving partner,
Elfledo was not a partner; and that he and Norberto entered into a partnership with Jose. Thus, the CA erred in
not giving that testimony greater weight than that of Cresencia, who was merely the spouse of Jose and not a
party to the partnership.[8]
Respondent counters that the issue raised by petitioners is not proper in a petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, as it would entail the review, evaluation, calibration,
and re-weighing of the factual findings of the CA. Moreover, respondent invokes the rationale of the CA
decision that, in light of the admissions of Cresencia and Edison and the testimony of respondent, the
testimony of Jimmy was effectively refuted; accordingly, the CA's reversal of the RTC's findings was fully
We resolve first the procedural matter regarding the propriety of the instant Petition.
Verily, the evaluation and calibration of the evidence necessarily involves consideration of factual issues an
exercise that is not appropriate for a petition for review on certiorariunder Rule 45. This rule provides that the
parties may raise only questions of law, because the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. Generally, we are
not duty-bound to analyze again and weigh the evidence introduced in and considered by the tribunals below.
When supported by substantial evidence, the findings of fact of the CA are conclusive and binding on the
parties and are not reviewable by this Court, unless the case falls under any of the following recognized
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and
(2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;
(4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;
(5) When the findings of fact are conflicting;
(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and
the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee;
(7) When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court;
(8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they
are based;
(9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are
not disputed by the respondents; and
(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence
of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.[11]

We note, however, that the findings of fact of the RTC are contrary to those of the CA. Thus, our review of such
findings is warranted.

On the merits of the case, we find that the instant Petition is bereft of merit.

A partnership exists when two or more persons agree to place their money, effects, labor, and skill in lawful
commerce or business, with the understanding that there shall be a proportionate sharing of the profits and
losses among them. A contract of partnership is defined by the Civil Code as one where two or more persons
bind themselves to contribute money, property, or industry to a common fund, with the intention of dividing the
profits among themselves.[12]

Undoubtedly, the best evidence would have been the contract of partnership or the articles of partnership.
Unfortunately, there is none in this case, because the alleged partnership was never formally organized.
Nonetheless, we are asked to determine who between Jose and Elfledo was the partner in the trucking

A careful review of the records persuades us to affirm the CA decision. The evidence presented by petitioners
falls short of the quantum of proof required to establish that: (1) Jose was the partner and not Elfledo; and (2)
all the properties acquired by Elfledo and respondent form part of the estate of Jose, having been derived from
the alleged partnership.
Petitioners heavily rely on Jimmy's testimony. But that testimony is just one piece of evidence against
respondent. It must be considered and weighed along with petitioners' other evidence vis--vis respondent's
contrary evidence. In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a
preponderance of evidence. "Preponderance of evidence" is the weight, credit, and value of the aggregate
evidence on either side and is usually considered synonymous with the term "greater weight of the evidence"
or "greater weight of the credible evidence." "Preponderance of evidence" is a phrase that, in the last analysis,
means probability of the truth. It is evidence that is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that
which is offered in opposition thereto.[13] Rule 133, Section 1 of the Rules of Court provides the guidelines in
determining preponderance of evidence, thus:

SECTION I. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. In civil cases, the party having
burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining where
the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the court may
consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, the witnesses' manner of testifying, their
intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the
nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony, their
interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may
legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though
the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.
At this juncture, our ruling in Heirs of Tan Eng Kee v. Court of Appeals[14] is enlightening. Therein, we cited
Article 1769 of the Civil Code, which provides:

Art. 1769. In determining whether a partnership exists, these rules shall apply:

(1) Except as provided by Article 1825, persons who are not partners as to each other are not
partners as to third persons;
(2) Co-ownership or co-possession does not of itself establish a partnership, whether such co-
owners or co-possessors do or do not share any profits made by the use of the property;
(3) The sharing of gross returns does not of itself establish a partnership, whether or not the
persons sharing them have a joint or common right or interest in any property from which the
returns are derived;
(4) The receipt by a person of a share of the profits of a business is a prima facie evidence that
he is a partner in the business, but no such inference shall be drawn if such profits were
received in payment:
(a) As a debt by installments or otherwise;
(b) As wages of an employee or rent to a landlord;
(c) As an annuity to a widow or representative of a deceased partner;
(d) As interest on a loan, though the amount of payment vary with the profits of the
(e) As the consideration for the sale of a goodwill of a business or other property by
installments or otherwise.

Applying the legal provision to the facts of this case, the following circumstances tend to prove that Elfledo was
himself the partner of Jimmy and Norberto: 1) Cresencia testified that Jose gave Elfledo P50,000.00, as share
in the partnership, on a date that coincided with the payment of the initial capital in the partnership; [15] (2)
Elfledo ran the affairs of the partnership, wielding absolute control, power and authority, without any
intervention or opposition whatsoever from any of petitioners herein; [16] (3) all of the properties, particularly the
nine trucks of the partnership, were registered in the name of Elfledo; (4) Jimmy testified that Elfledo did not
receive wages or salaries from the partnership, indicating that what he actually received were shares of the
profits of the business;[17] and (5) none of the petitioners, as heirs of Jose, the alleged partner, demanded
periodic accounting from Elfledo during his lifetime. As repeatedly stressed in Heirs of Tan Eng Kee,[18] a
demand for periodic accounting is evidence of a partnership.
Furthermore, petitioners failed to adduce any evidence to show that the real and personal properties acquired
and registered in the names of Elfledo and respondent formed part of the estate of Jose, having been derived
from Jose's alleged partnership with Jimmy and Norberto. They failed to refute respondent's claim that Elfledo
and respondent engaged in other businesses. Edison even admitted that Elfledo also sold Interwood lumber as
a sideline.[19] Petitioners could not offer any credible evidence other than their bare assertions. Thus, we apply
the basic rule of evidence that between documentary and oral evidence, the former carries more weight.[20]

Finally, we agree with the judicious findings of the CA, to wit:

The above testimonies prove that Elfledo was not just a hired help but one of the partners in the
trucking business, active and visible in the running of its affairs from day one until this ceased
operations upon his demise. The extent of his control, administration and management of the
partnership and its business, the fact that its properties were placed in his name, and that he
was not paid salary or other compensation by the partners, are indicative of the fact that Elfledo
was a partner and a controlling one at that. It is apparent that the other partners only contributed
in the initial capital but had no say thereafter on how the business was ran. Evidently it was
through Elfredos efforts and hard work that the partnership was able to acquire more trucks and
otherwise prosper. Even the appellant participated in the affairs of the partnership by acting as
the bookkeeper sans salary.

It is notable too that Jose Lim died when the partnership was barely a year old, and the
partnership and its business not only continued but also flourished. If it were true that it was
Jose Lim and not Elfledo who was the partner, then upon his death the partnership should
been dissolved and its assets liquidated. On the contrary, these were not done but instead its
operation continued under the helm of Elfledo and without any participation from the heirs of
Jose Lim.

Whatever properties appellant and her husband had acquired, this was through their own
concerted efforts and hard work. Elfledo did not limit himself to the business of their partnership
but engaged in other lines of businesses as well.

In sum, we find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and the ruling of the CA as they are amply supported
by the law and by the evidence on record.
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED. The assailed Court of Appeals Decision dated June 29, 2005
is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
[G.R. No. 134559. December 9, 1999]
ANTONIA TORRES, assisted by her husband, ANGELO TORRES; and EMETERIA BARING, petitioners,
vs. COURT OF APPEALS and MANUEL TORRES, respondents.
Courts may not extricate parties from the necessary consequences of their acts. That the terms of a
contract turn out to be financially disadvantageous to them will not relieve them of their obligations therein. The
lack of an inventory of real property will not ipso facto release the contracting partners from their respective
obligations to each other arising from acts executed in accordance with their agreement.
The Case

The Petition for Review on Certiorari before us assails the March 5, 1998 Decision [1] Second Division of
the Court of Appeals[2] (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 42378 and its June 25, 1998 Resolution denying
reconsideration. The assailed Decision affirmed the ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City in
Civil Case No. R-21208, which disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, for all the foregoing considerations, the Court, finding for the defendant and against the
plaintiffs, orders the dismissal of the plaintiffs complaint. The counterclaims of the defendant are likewise
ordered dismissed. No pronouncement as to costs.[3]
The Facts

Sisters Antonia Torres and Emeteria Baring, herein petitioners, entered into a "joint venture agreement"
with Respondent Manuel Torres for the development of a parcel of land into a subdivision.Pursuant to the
contract, they executed a Deed of Sale covering the said parcel of land in favor of respondent, who then had it
registered in his name. By mortgaging the property, respondent obtained from Equitable Bank a loan
of P40,000 which, under the Joint Venture Agreement, was to be used for the development of the subdivision.
All three of them also agreed to share the proceeds from the sale of the subdivided lots.
The project did not push through, and the land was subsequently foreclosed by the bank.
According to petitioners, the project failed because of respondents lack of funds or means and skills. They
add that respondent used the loan not for the development of the subdivision, but in furtherance of his own
company, Universal Umbrella Company.
On the other hand, respondent alleged that he used the loan to implement the Agreement. With the said
amount, he was able to effect the survey and the subdivision of the lots. He secured the Lapu Lapu City
Councils approval of the subdivision project which he advertised in a local newspaper. He also caused the
construction of roads, curbs and gutters. Likewise, he entered into a contract with an engineering firm for the
building of sixty low-cost housing units and actually even set up a model house on one of the subdivision
lots. He did all of these for a total expense of P85,000.
Respondent claimed that the subdivision project failed, however, because petitioners and their relatives
had separately caused the annotations of adverse claims on the title to the land, which eventually scared away
prospective buyers. Despite his requests, petitioners refused to cause the clearing of the claims, thereby
forcing him to give up on the project.[5]
Subsequently, petitioners filed a criminal case for estafa against respondent and his wife, who were
however acquitted. Thereafter, they filed the present civil case which, upon respondent's motion, was later
dismissed by the trial court in an Order dated September 6, 1982. On appeal, however, the appellate court
remanded the case for further proceedings. Thereafter, the RTC issued its assailed Decision, which, as earlier
stated, was affirmed by the CA.
Hence, this Petition.[6]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In affirming the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that petitioners and respondent had formed a
partnership for the development of the subdivision. Thus, they must bear the loss suffered by the partnership in
the same proportion as their share in the profits stipulated in the contract. Disagreeing with the trial courts
pronouncement that losses as well as profits in a joint venture should be distributed equally, [7] the CA invoked
Article 1797 of the Civil Code which provides:
Article 1797 - The losses and profits shall be distributed in conformity with the agreement. If only the share of
each partner in the profits has been agreed upon, the share of each in the losses shall be in the same
The CA elucidated further:
In the absence of stipulation, the share of each partner in the profits and losses shall be in proportion to what
he may have contributed, but the industrial partner shall not be liable for the losses. As for the profits, the
industrial partner shall receive such share as may be just and equitable under the circumstances. If besides his
services he has contributed capital, he shall also receive a share in the profits in proportion to his capital.
The Issue

Petitioners impute to the Court of Appeals the following error:

x x x [The] Court of Appeals erred in concluding that the transaction x x x between the petitioners and
respondent was that of a joint venture/partnership, ignoring outright the provision of Article 1769, and other
related provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines.[8]
The Courts Ruling

The Petition is bereft of merit.

Main Issue: Existence of a Partnership

Petitioners deny having formed a partnership with respondent. They contend that the Joint Venture
Agreement and the earlier Deed of Sale, both of which were the bases of the appellate courts finding of a
partnership, were void.
In the same breath, however, they assert that under those very same contracts, respondent is liable for his
failure to implement the project. Because the agreement entitled them to receive 60 percent of the proceeds
from the sale of the subdivision lots, they pray that respondent pay them damages equivalent to 60 percent of
the value of the property.[9]
The pertinent portions of the Joint Venture Agreement read as follows:
This AGREEMENT, is made and entered into at Cebu City, Philippines, this 5th day of March, 1969, by and
between MR. MANUEL R. TORRES, x x x the FIRST PARTY, likewise, MRS. ANTONIA B. TORRES, and MISS
W I T N E S S E T H:
That, whereas, the SECOND PARTY, voluntarily offered the FIRST PARTY, this property located at Lapu-Lapu
City, Island of Mactan, under Lot No. 1368 covering TCT No. T-0184 with a total area of 17,009 square meters,
to be sub-divided by the FIRST PARTY;
Whereas, the FIRST PARTY had given the SECOND PARTY, the sum of: TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00)
Pesos, Philippine Currency, upon the execution of this contract for the property entrusted by the SECOND
PARTY, for sub-division projects and development purposes;
NOW THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the above covenants and promises herein contained the
respective parties hereto do hereby stipulate and agree as follows:
ONE: That the SECOND PARTY signed an absolute Deed of Sale x x x dated March 5, 1969, in the amount of
for 1,700 square meters at ONE [PESO] & FIFTY CTVS. (P1.50) Philippine Currency, in favor of the FIRST
PARTY, but the SECOND PARTY did not actually receive the payment.
SECOND: That the SECOND PARTY, had received from the FIRST PARTY, the necessary amount of
TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) pesos, Philippine currency, for their personal obligations and this
particular amount will serve as an advance payment from the FIRST PARTY for the property mentioned to be
sub-divided and to be deducted from the sales.
THIRD: That the FIRST PARTY, will not collect from the SECOND PARTY, the interest and the principal
amount involving the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) Pesos, Philippine Currency, until the sub-
division project is terminated and ready for sale to any interested parties, and the amount of TWENTY
THOUSAND (P20,000.00) pesos, Philippine currency, will be deducted accordingly.
FOURTH: That all general expense[s] and all cost[s] involved in the sub-division project should be paid by the
FIRST PARTY, exclusively and all the expenses will not be deducted from the sales after the development of
the sub-division project.
FIFTH: That the sales of the sub-divided lots will be divided into SIXTY PERCENTUM 60% for the SECOND
PARTY and FORTY PERCENTUM 40% for the FIRST PARTY, and additional profits or whatever income
deriving from the sales will be divided equally according to the x x x percentage [agreed upon] by both parties.
SIXTH: That the intended sub-division project of the property involved will start the work and all improvements
upon the adjacent lots will be negotiated in both parties['] favor and all sales shall [be] decided by both parties.
SEVENTH: That the SECOND PARTIES, should be given an option to get back the property mentioned
provided the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) Pesos, Philippine Currency, borrowed by the
SECOND PARTY, will be paid in full to the FIRST PARTY, including all necessary improvements spent by the
FIRST PARTY, and the FIRST PARTY will be given a grace period to turnover the property mentioned above.
That this AGREEMENT shall be binding and obligatory to the parties who executed same freely and voluntarily
for the uses and purposes therein stated.[10]
A reading of the terms embodied in the Agreement indubitably shows the existence of a partnership
pursuant to Article 1767 of the Civil Code, which provides:
ART. 1767. By the contract of partnership two or more persons bind themselves to contribute money, property,
or industry to a common fund, with the intention of dividing the profits among themselves.
Under the above-quoted Agreement, petitioners would contribute property to the partnership in the form of
land which was to be developed into a subdivision; while respondent would give, in addition to his industry, the
amount needed for general expenses and other costs. Furthermore, the income from the said project would be
divided according to the stipulated percentage. Clearly, the contract manifested the intention of the parties to
form a partnership.[11]
It should be stressed that the parties implemented the contract. Thus, petitioners transferred the title to the
land to facilitate its use in the name of the respondent. On the other hand, respondent caused the subject land
to be mortgaged, the proceeds of which were used for the survey and the subdivision of the land. As noted
earlier, he developed the roads, the curbs and the gutters of the subdivision and entered into a contract to
construct low-cost housing units on the property.
Respondents actions clearly belie petitioners contention that he made no contribution to the
partnership. Under Article 1767 of the Civil Code, a partner may contribute not only money or property, but also
Petitioners Bound by Terms of Contract

Under Article 1315 of the Civil Code, contracts bind the parties not only to what has been expressly
stipulated, but also to all necessary consequences thereof, as follows:
ART. 1315. Contracts are perfected by mere consent, and from that moment the parties are bound not only to
the fulfillment of what has been expressly stipulated but also to all the consequences which, according to their
nature, may be in keeping with good faith, usage and law.
It is undisputed that petitioners are educated and are thus presumed to have understood the terms of the
contract they voluntarily signed. If it was not in consonance with their expectations, they should have objected
to it and insisted on the provisions they wanted.
Courts are not authorized to extricate parties from the necessary consequences of their acts, and the fact
that the contractual stipulations may turn out to be financially disadvantageous will not relieve parties thereto of
their obligations. They cannot now disavow the relationship formed from such agreement due to their
supposed misunderstanding of its terms.
Alleged Nullity of the Partnership Agreement

Petitioners argue that the Joint Venture Agreement is void under Article 1773 of the Civil Code, which
ART. 1773. A contract of partnership is void, whenever immovable property is contributed thereto, if an
inventory of said property is not made, signed by the parties, and attached to the public instrument.
They contend that since the parties did not make, sign or attach to the public instrument an inventory of
the real property contributed, the partnership is void.
We clarify. First, Article 1773 was intended primarily to protect third persons. Thus, the eminent Arturo M.
Tolentino states that under the aforecited provision which is a complement of Article 1771, [12]the execution of a
public instrument would be useless if there is no inventory of the property contributed, because without its
designation and description, they cannot be subject to inscription in the Registry of Property, and their
contribution cannot prejudice third persons. This will result in fraud to those who contract with the partnership
in the belief [in] the efficacy of the guaranty in which the immovables may consist. Thus, the contract is
declared void by the law when no such inventory is made. The case at bar does not involve third parties who
may be prejudiced.
Second, petitioners themselves invoke the allegedly void contract as basis for their claim that respondent
should pay them 60 percent of the value of the property. [13] They cannot in one breath deny the contract and in
another recognize it, depending on what momentarily suits their purpose. Parties cannot adopt inconsistent
positions in regard to a contract and courts will not tolerate, much less approve, such practice.
In short, the alleged nullity of the partnership will not prevent courts from considering the Joint Venture
Agreement an ordinary contract from which the parties rights and obligations to each other may be inferred and
Partnership Agreement Not the Result of an Earlier Illegal Contract

Petitioners also contend that the Joint Venture Agreement is void under Article 1422 [14] of the Civil Code,
because it is the direct result of an earlier illegal contract, which was for the sale of the land without valid
This argument is puerile. The Joint Venture Agreement clearly states that the consideration for the sale
was the expectation of profits from the subdivision project. Its first stipulation states that petitioners did not
actually receive payment for the parcel of land sold to respondent. Consideration, more properly denominated
as cause, can take different forms, such as the prestation or promise of a thing or service by another.[15]
In this case, the cause of the contract of sale consisted not in the stated peso value of the land, but in the
expectation of profits from the subdivision project, for which the land was intended to be used. As explained by
the trial court, the land was in effect given to the partnership as [petitioners] participation therein. x x x There
was therefore a consideration for the sale, the [petitioners] acting in the expectation that, should the venture
come into fruition, they [would] get sixty percent of the net profits.
Liability of the Parties

Claiming that respondent was solely responsible for the failure of the subdivision project, petitioners
maintain that he should be made to pay damages equivalent to 60 percent of the value of the property, which
was their share in the profits under the Joint Venture Agreement.
We are not persuaded. True, the Court of Appeals held that petitioners acts were not the cause of the
failure of the project.[16] But it also ruled that neither was respondent responsible therefor. [17] In imputing the
blame solely to him, petitioners failed to give any reason why we should disregard the factual findings of the
appellate court relieving him of fault. Verily, factual issues cannot be resolved in a petition for review under
Rule 45, as in this case. Petitioners have not alleged, not to say shown, that their Petition constitutes one of
the exceptions to this doctrine.[18] Accordingly, we find no reversible error in the CA's ruling that petitioners are
not entitled to damages.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the challenged Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
[G.R. No. 136448. November 3, 1999]
A partnership may be deemed to exist among parties who agree to borrow money to pursue a business
and to divide the profits or losses that may arise therefrom, even if it is shown that they have not contributed
any capital of their own to a "common fund." Their contribution may be in the form of credit or industry, not
necessarily cash or fixed assets. Being partners, they are all liable for debts incurred by or on behalf of the
partnership. The liability for a contract entered into on behalf of an unincorporated association or ostensible
corporation may lie in a person who may not have directly transacted on its behalf, but reaped benefits from
that contract.
The Case

In the Petition for Review on Certiorari before us, Lim Tong Lim assails the November 26, 1998 Decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV 41477,[1] which disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, [there being] no reversible error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby affirmed.[2]
The decretal portion of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruling, which was affirmed by the CA,
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court rules:
1. That plaintiff is entitled to the writ of preliminary attachment issued by this Court on September 20, 1990;
2. That defendants are jointly liable to plaintiff for the following amounts, subject to the modifications as
hereinafter made by reason of the special and unique facts and circumstances and the proceedings that
transpired during the trial of this case;
a. P532,045.00 representing [the] unpaid purchase price of the fishing nets covered by the Agreement
plus P68,000.00 representing the unpaid price of the floats not covered by said Agreement;
b. 12% interest per annum counted from date of plaintiffs invoices and computed on their respective amounts
as follows:
i. Accrued interest of P73,221.00 on Invoice No. 14407 for P385,377.80 dated February 9, 1990;
ii. Accrued interest of P27,904.02 on Invoice No. 14413 for P146,868.00 dated February 13, 1990;
iii. Accrued interest of P12,920.00 on Invoice No. 14426 for P68,000.00 dated February 19, 1990;
c. P50,000.00 as and for attorneys fees, plus P8,500.00 representing P500.00 per appearance in court;
d. P65,000.00 representing P5,000.00 monthly rental for storage charges on the nets counted from September
20, 1990 (date of attachment) to September 12, 1991 (date of auction sale);
e. Cost of suit.
With respect to the joint liability of defendants for the principal obligation or for the unpaid price of nets and
floats in the amount of P532,045.00 and P68,000.00, respectively, or for the total amount of P600,045.00, this
Court noted that these items were attached to guarantee any judgment that may be rendered in favor of the
plaintiff but, upon agreement of the parties, and, to avoid further deterioration of the nets during the pendency
of this case, it was ordered sold at public auction for not less than P900,000.00 for which the plaintiff was the
sole and winning bidder. The proceeds of the sale paid for by plaintiff was deposited in court. In effect, the
amount of P900,000.00 replaced the attached property as a guaranty for any judgment that plaintiff may be
able to secure in this case with the ownership and possession of the nets and floats awarded and delivered by
the sheriff to plaintiff as the highest bidder in the public auction sale. It has also been noted that ownership of
the nets [was] retained by the plaintiff until full payment [was] made as stipulated in the invoices; hence, in
effect, the plaintiff attached its own properties. It [was] for this reason also that this Court earlier ordered the
attachment bond filed by plaintiff to guaranty damages to defendants to be cancelled and for the P900,000.00
cash bidded and paid for by plaintiff to serve as its bond in favor of defendants.
From the foregoing, it would appear therefore that whatever judgment the plaintiff may be entitled to in this
case will have to be satisfied from the amount of P900,000.00 as this amount replaced the attached nets and
floats. Considering, however, that the total judgment obligation as computed above would amount to
only P840,216.92, it would be inequitable, unfair and unjust to award the excess to the defendants who are not
entitled to damages and who did not put up a single centavo to raise the amount of P900,000.00 aside from
the fact that they are not the owners of the nets and floats. For this reason, the defendants are hereby relieved
from any and all liabilities arising from the monetary judgment obligation enumerated above and for plaintiff to
retain possession and ownership of the nets and floats and for the reimbursement of the P900,000.00
deposited by it with the Clerk of Court.
The Facts

On behalf of "Ocean Quest Fishing Corporation," Antonio Chua and Peter Yao entered into a Contract
dated February 7, 1990, for the purchase of fishing nets of various sizes from the Philippine Fishing Gear
Industries, Inc. (herein respondent). They claimed that they were engaged in a business venture with Petitioner
Lim Tong Lim, who however was not a signatory to the agreement. The total price of the nets amounted
to P532,045. Four hundred pieces of floats worth P68,000 were also sold to the Corporation.[4]
The buyers, however, failed to pay for the fishing nets and the floats; hence, private respondent filed a
collection suit against Chua, Yao and Petitioner Lim Tong Lim with a prayer for a writ of preliminary
attachment. The suit was brought against the three in their capacities as general partners, on the allegation
that Ocean Quest Fishing Corporation was a nonexistent corporation as shown by a Certification from the
Securities and Exchange Commission.[5] On September 20, 1990, the lower court issued a Writ of Preliminary
Attachment, which the sheriff enforced by attaching the fishing nets on board F/B Lourdes which was then
docked at the Fisheries Port, Navotas, Metro Manila.
Instead of answering the Complaint, Chua filed a Manifestation admitting his liability and requesting a
reasonable time within which to pay. He also turned over to respondent some of the nets which were in his
possession. Peter Yao filed an Answer, after which he was deemed to have waived his right to cross-examine
witnesses and to present evidence on his behalf, because of his failure to appear in subsequent hearings. Lim
Tong Lim, on the other hand, filed an Answer with Counterclaim and Crossclaim and moved for the lifting of the
Writ of Attachment.[6] The trial court maintained the Writ, and upon motion of private respondent, ordered the
sale of the fishing nets at a public auction. Philippine Fishing Gear Industries won the bidding and deposited
with the said court the sales proceeds of P900,000.[7]
On November 18, 1992, the trial court rendered its Decision, ruling that Philippine Fishing Gear Industries
was entitled to the Writ of Attachment and that Chua, Yao and Lim, as general partners, were jointly liable to
pay respondent.[8]
The trial court ruled that a partnership among Lim, Chua and Yao existed based (1) on the testimonies of
the witnesses presented and (2) on a Compromise Agreement executed by the three [9] in Civil Case No. 1492-
MN which Chua and Yao had brought against Lim in the RTC of Malabon, Branch 72, for (a) a declaration of
nullity of commercial documents; (b) a reformation of contracts; (c) a declaration of ownership of fishing boats;
(d) an injunction and (e) damages.[10] The Compromise Agreement provided:
a) That the parties plaintiffs & Lim Tong Lim agree to have the four (4) vessels sold in the amount
of P5,750,000.00 including the fishing net. This P5,750,000.00 shall be applied as full payment
for P3,250,000.00 in favor of JL Holdings Corporation and/or Lim Tong Lim;
b) If the four (4) vessel[s] and the fishing net will be sold at a higher price than P5,750,000.00 whatever will be
the excess will be divided into 3: 1/3 Lim Tong Lim; 1/3 Antonio Chua; 1/3 Peter Yao;
c) If the proceeds of the sale the vessels will be less than P5,750,000.00 whatever the deficiency shall be
shouldered and paid to JL Holding Corporation by 1/3 Lim Tong Lim; 1/3 Antonio Chua; 1/3 Peter Yao.[11]
The trial court noted that the Compromise Agreement was silent as to the nature of their obligations, but
that joint liability could be presumed from the equal distribution of the profit and loss.[12]
Lim appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA) which, as already stated, affirmed the RTC.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In affirming the trial court, the CA held that petitioner was a partner of Chua and Yao in a fishing business
and may thus be held liable as a such for the fishing nets and floats purchased by and for the use of the
partnership. The appellate court ruled:
The evidence establishes that all the defendants including herein appellant Lim Tong Lim undertook a
partnership for a specific undertaking, that is for commercial fishing x x x. Obviously, the ultimate undertaking
of the defendants was to divide the profits among themselves which is what a partnership essentially is x x
x. By a contract of partnership, two or more persons bind themselves to contribute money, property or industry
to a common fund with the intention of dividing the profits among themselves (Article 1767, New Civil Code).[13]
Hence, petitioner brought this recourse before this Court.[14]
The Issues

In his Petition and Memorandum, Lim asks this Court to reverse the assailed Decision on the following
In determining whether petitioner may be held liable for the fishing nets and floats purchased from
respondent, the Court must resolve this key issue: whether by their acts, Lim, Chua and Yao could be deemed
to have entered into a partnership.
This Courts Ruling

The Petition is devoid of merit.

First and Second Issues: Existence of a Partnership and Petitioner's Liability

In arguing that he should not be held liable for the equipment purchased from respondent, petitioner
controverts the CA finding that a partnership existed between him, Peter Yao and Antonio Chua. He asserts
that the CA based its finding on the Compromise Agreement alone. Furthermore, he disclaims any direct
participation in the purchase of the nets, alleging that the negotiations were conducted by Chua and Yao only,
and that he has not even met the representatives of the respondent company. Petitioner further argues that he
was a lessor, not a partner, of Chua and Yao, for the "Contract of Lease" dated February 1, 1990, showed that
he had merely leased to the two the main asset of the purported partnership -- the fishing boat F/B
Lourdes. The lease was for six months, with a monthly rental of P37,500 plus 25 percent of the gross catch of
the boat.
We are not persuaded by the arguments of petitioner. The facts as found by the two lower courts clearly
showed that there existed a partnership among Chua, Yao and him, pursuant to Article 1767 of the Civil Code
which provides:
Article 1767 - By the contract of partnership, two or more persons bind themselves to contribute money,
property, or industry to a common fund, with the intention of dividing the profits among themselves.
Specifically, both lower courts ruled that a partnership among the three existed based on the following
factual findings:[15]
(1) That Petitioner Lim Tong Lim requested Peter Yao who was engaged in commercial fishing to join him,
while Antonio Chua was already Yaos partner;
(2) That after convening for a few times, Lim Chua, and Yao verbally agreed to acquire two fishing boats,
the FB Lourdes and the FB Nelson for the sum of P3.35 million;
(3) That they borrowed P3.25 million from Jesus Lim, brother of Petitioner Lim Tong Lim, to finance the
(4) That they bought the boats from CMF Fishing Corporation, which executed a Deed of Sale over these two
(2) boats in favor of Petitioner Lim Tong Lim only to serve as security for the loan extended by Jesus Lim;
(5) That Lim, Chua and Yao agreed that the refurbishing , re-equipping, repairing, dry docking and other
expenses for the boats would be shouldered by Chua and Yao;
(6) That because of the unavailability of funds, Jesus Lim again extended a loan to the partnership in the
amount of P1 million secured by a check, because of which, Yao and Chua entrusted the ownership papers of
two other boats, Chuas FB Lady Anne Mel and Yaos FB Tracy to Lim Tong Lim.
(7) That in pursuance of the business agreement, Peter Yao and Antonio Chua bought nets from Respondent
Philippine Fishing Gear, in behalf of "Ocean Quest Fishing Corporation," their purported business name.
(8) That subsequently, Civil Case No. 1492-MN was filed in the Malabon RTC, Branch 72 by Antonio Chua and
Peter Yao against Lim Tong Lim for (a) declaration of nullity of commercial documents; (b) reformation of
contracts; (c) declaration of ownership of fishing boats; (4) injunction; and (e) damages.
(9) That the case was amicably settled through a Compromise Agreement executed between the parties-
litigants the terms of which are already enumerated above.
From the factual findings of both lower courts, it is clear that Chua, Yao and Lim had decided to engage in
a fishing business, which they started by buying boats worth P3.35 million, financed by a loan secured from
Jesus Lim who was petitioners brother. In their Compromise Agreement, they subsequently revealed their
intention to pay the loan with the proceeds of the sale of the boats, and to divide equally among them the
excess or loss. These boats, the purchase and the repair of which were financed with borrowed money, fell
under the term common fund under Article 1767. The contribution to such fund need not be cash or fixed
assets; it could be an intangible like credit or industry. That the parties agreed that any loss or profit from the
sale and operation of the boats would be divided equally among them also shows that they had indeed formed
a partnership.
Moreover, it is clear that the partnership extended not only to the purchase of the boat, but also to that of
the nets and the floats. The fishing nets and the floats, both essential to fishing, were obviously acquired in
furtherance of their business. It would have been inconceivable for Lim to involve himself so much in buying
the boat but not in the acquisition of the aforesaid equipment, without which the business could not have
Given the preceding facts, it is clear that there was, among petitioner, Chua and Yao, a partnership
engaged in the fishing business. They purchased the boats, which constituted the main assets of the
partnership, and they agreed that the proceeds from the sales and operations thereof would be divided among
We stress that under Rule 45, a petition for review like the present case should involve only questions of
law. Thus, the foregoing factual findings of the RTC and the CA are binding on this Court, absent any cogent
proof that the present action is embraced by one of the exceptions to the rule. [16] In assailing the factual
findings of the two lower courts, petitioner effectively goes beyond the bounds of a petition for review under
Rule 45.
Compromise Agreement Not the Sole Basis of Partnership

Petitioner argues that the appellate courts sole basis for assuming the existence of a partnership was the
Compromise Agreement. He also claims that the settlement was entered into only to end the dispute among
them, but not to adjudicate their preexisting rights and obligations. His arguments are baseless. The
Agreement was but an embodiment of the relationship extant among the parties prior to its execution.
A proper adjudication of claimants rights mandates that courts must review and thoroughly appraise all
relevant facts. Both lower courts have done so and have found, correctly, a preexisting partnership among the
parties. In implying that the lower courts have decided on the basis of one piece of document alone, petitioner
fails to appreciate that the CA and the RTC delved into the history of the document and explored all the
possible consequential combinations in harmony with law, logic and fairness. Verily, the two lower courts
factual findings mentioned above nullified petitioners argument that the existence of a partnership was based
only on the Compromise Agreement.
Petitioner Was a Partner, Not a Lessor

We are not convinced by petitioners argument that he was merely the lessor of the boats to Chua and
Yao, not a partner in the fishing venture. His argument allegedly finds support in the Contract of Lease and the
registration papers showing that he was the owner of the boats, including F/B Lourdes where the nets were
His allegation defies logic. In effect, he would like this Court to believe that he consented to the sale of his
own boats to pay a debt of Chua and Yao, with the excess of the proceeds to be divided among the three of
them. No lessor would do what petitioner did. Indeed, his consent to the sale proved that there was a
preexisting partnership among all three.
Verily, as found by the lower courts, petitioner entered into a business agreement with Chua and Yao, in
which debts were undertaken in order to finance the acquisition and the upgrading of the vessels which would
be used in their fishing business. The sale of the boats, as well as the division among the three of the balance
remaining after the payment of their loans, proves beyond cavil that F/B Lourdes, though registered in his
name, was not his own property but an asset of the partnership. It is not uncommon to register the properties
acquired from a loan in the name of the person the lender trusts, who in this case is the petitioner himself. After
all, he is the brother of the creditor, Jesus Lim.
We stress that it is unreasonable indeed, it is absurd -- for petitioner to sell his property to pay a debt he
did not incur, if the relationship among the three of them was merely that of lessor-lessee, instead of partners.
Corporation by Estoppel

Petitioner argues that under the doctrine of corporation by estoppel, liability can be imputed only to Chua
and Yao, and not to him. Again, we disagree.
Section 21 of the Corporation Code of the Philippines provides:
Sec. 21. Corporation by estoppel. - All persons who assume to act as a corporation knowing it to be without
authority to do so shall be liable as general partners for all debts, liabilities and damages incurred or arising as
a result thereof: Provided however, That when any such ostensible corporation is sued on any transaction
entered by it as a corporation or on any tort committed by it as such, it shall not be allowed to use as a defense
its lack of corporate personality.
One who assumes an obligation to an ostensible corporation as such, cannot resist performance thereof on the
ground that there was in fact no corporation.
Thus, even if the ostensible corporate entity is proven to be legally nonexistent, a party may be estopped
from denying its corporate existence. The reason behind this doctrine is obvious - an unincorporated
association has no personality and would be incompetent to act and appropriate for itself the power and
attributes of a corporation as provided by law; it cannot create agents or confer authority on another to act in its
behalf; thus, those who act or purport to act as its representatives or agents do so without authority and at their
own risk. And as it is an elementary principle of law that a person who acts as an agent without authority or
without a principal is himself regarded as the principal, possessed of all the right and subject to all the liabilities
of a principal, a person acting or purporting to act on behalf of a corporation which has no valid existence
assumes such privileges and obligations and becomes personally liable for contracts entered into or for other
acts performed as such agent.[17]
The doctrine of corporation by estoppel may apply to the alleged corporation and to a third party. In the
first instance, an unincorporated association, which represented itself to be a corporation, will be estopped
from denying its corporate capacity in a suit against it by a third person who relied in good faith on such
representation. It cannot allege lack of personality to be sued to evade its responsibility for a contract it entered
into and by virtue of which it received advantages and benefits.
On the other hand, a third party who, knowing an association to be unincorporated, nonetheless treated it
as a corporation and received benefits from it, may be barred from denying its corporate existence in a suit
brought against the alleged corporation. In such case, all those who benefited from the transaction made by
the ostensible corporation, despite knowledge of its legal defects, may be held liable for contracts they
impliedly assented to or took advantage of.
There is no dispute that the respondent, Philippine Fishing Gear Industries, is entitled to be paid for the
nets it sold. The only question here is whether petitioner should be held jointly [18] liable with Chua and
Yao. Petitioner contests such liability, insisting that only those who dealt in the name of the ostensible
corporation should be held liable. Since his name does not appear on any of the contracts and since he never
directly transacted with the respondent corporation, ergo, he cannot be held liable.
Unquestionably, petitioner benefited from the use of the nets found inside F/B Lourdes, the boat which has
earlier been proven to be an asset of the partnership. He in fact questions the attachment of the nets, because
the Writ has effectively stopped his use of the fishing vessel.
It is difficult to disagree with the RTC and the CA that Lim, Chua and Yao decided to form a
corporation. Although it was never legally formed for unknown reasons, this fact alone does not preclude the
liabilities of the three as contracting parties in representation of it. Clearly, under the law on estoppel, those
acting on behalf of a corporation and those benefited by it, knowing it to be without valid existence, are held
liable as general partners.
Technically, it is true that petitioner did not directly act on behalf of the corporation. However, having
reaped the benefits of the contract entered into by persons with whom he previously had an existing
relationship, he is deemed to be part of said association and is covered by the scope of the doctrine of
corporation by estoppel. We reiterate the ruling of the Court in Alonso v. Villamor:[19]
A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of
movement and position , entraps and destroys the other. It is, rather, a contest in which each contending party
fully and fairly lays before the court the facts in issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive
all imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done upon the merits. Lawsuits,
unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapiers thrust. Technicality, when it deserts its proper office as an aid to
justice and becomes its great hindrance and chief enemy, deserves scant consideration from courts. There
should be no vested rights in technicalities.
Third Issue: Validity of Attachment

Finally, petitioner claims that the Writ of Attachment was improperly issued against the nets. We agree with
the Court of Appeals that this issue is now moot and academic. As previously discussed, F/B Lourdes was an
asset of the partnership and that it was placed in the name of petitioner, only to assure payment of the debt he
and his partners owed. The nets and the floats were specifically manufactured and tailor-made according to
their own design, and were bought and used in the fishing venture they agreed upon. Hence, the issuance of
the Writ to assure the payment of the price stipulated in the invoices is proper. Besides, by specific agreement,
ownership of the nets remained with Respondent Philippine Fishing Gear, until full payment thereof.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
Melo, (Chairman), Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., Pls. see concurring opinion.