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Conflicts of Law

Week 11: X- The Problem of Renvoi


GR no. L- 16749 Jan. 31, 1963

Edward E. Christensen, was born in New York but he migrated to California where he resided for
9 years. In 1913, he came to the Philippines where he became a domiciliary until the time of his
death. In his will, he instituted an acknowledged natural daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen as his
only heir, but left a legacy sum of Php 3,600.00 in favor of Helen Christensen Garcia, though not
in any way related to the deceased.
The laws of California allows the testator to dispose of his estate in any manner he pleases.
Counsel for the acknowledged natural daughter Helen claims that under Article 16, par. 2 of the
Civil Code, California law should be should be applied; that under California law, the matter is
referred back to the law of the domicile. On the other hand, the counsel for Maria Lucy contends
that the national law of the deceased must apply, illegitimate children not being entitled to anything
under California law.
Ultimately, the executor, Adolfo C. Aznar, drew a project of partition in conformity with the will.
Helen opposed the project of partition arguing that Philippine laws govern the distribution of the
estate and manner proposed in the project deprived her of her legitime.
Thus, Helen Christensen Garcia filed a petition for review to the SC the decision of the lower court
in Davao declaring that Maria Lucy Christensen is the sole heir of testator Edward Christensen.

WON the national law of the deceased should be applied in determining the successional rights
of his heirs.

An American citizen who was born in New York, migrated to California, resided there for nine
years, came to the Philippines in 1913, and very rarely re-turned to California and only for short
visits, and who appears to have never owned or acquired a home or properties in that state, shall
be considered to have his domicile in the Philip-pines.
The citizenship that the deceased acquired in Califor-nia when he resided there from 1904 to
1913 was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the United States
until 1946, and the deceased appears to have considered himself as a citizen of California by the
fact that when he executed his will in 1951 he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that
he appears never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another.
The “national law” indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code cannot possibly apply to any general
American Law, because there is no such law governing the validity of testamentary provisions in
the United States, each state of the union having its own private law applicable to its citizens only
and in force only within the state. It can therefore refer to no other than the private law of the state
of which the decedent was a citizen. In the case at bar, the State of California prescribes two sets
of laws for its citizens, an internal law for its citizens residing therein and a conflict of law rules for
its citizens domiciled in other jurisdictions. Hence, reason demands that the California con-flict of
law rules should be applied in this jurisdiction in the case at bar.
Article 16 of the Civil Code states that successional rights are determined by the national law of
the country where the deceased is a citizen hence the internal law of California since it was ruled
that Edward Christensen is a citizen of California.
Said internal law distinguishes the rule to be applied to Californians domiciled in California and
for Californians domiciled outside of California. For Californians residing in other jurisdiction, the
law of said country must apply. Edward Christensen being domiciled in the Philippines, the law of
his domicile must be followed. The case was remanded to the lower court for further proceedings
– the determination of the successional rights under Philippine law only.
As the domicile of the deceased, who was a citizen of California, was the Philippines, the validity
of the provisions of his will depriving his acknowledged natural child of the latter’s legacy, should
be governed by the Philippine law, pursuant to Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, not by
the internal law of California.
The conflict of law rule in California, Article 946 Civil Code, refers back the case, when a decedent
is not domiciled in California, to the law of his domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The
court of domicile can not and should not refer the case back to California, as such action would
leave the issue incapable of determination, because the case will then be tossed back and forth
between the two states. If the question has to be decided, the Philippine court must apply its own
law as the Philippines was the domicile of the decedent, as directed in the conflict of law rule of
the state of the decedent, California, and especially because the internal law of California provides
no legitime for natural children, while the Philippine law (Articles 887(4) and 894, Civil Code of
the Philippines makes natural children legally acknowledged forced heirs of the parent
recog-nizing them).

Week 12: Personal Status and Capacity

GR no. L- 11872 Dec 1 1917
The case was about the contract made by Luis Espiritu (father of Jose Espiritu, the defendant)
and the heirs of his sister Margarita Mercado; Domingo and Josepha Mercado, who pretended to
be of legal age to give their consent into the contract of sale of the land they inherited from their
deceased mother Margarita Mercado (sister of Luis Mercado). The siblings Domingo et. al.,
sought for the annulment of contract asserting that Domingo and Josepha were minors during the
perfection of contract.

Issue: WON the deed of sale is valid when the minors presented themselves that they were of
legal age.

The annulment of a deed of sale of a piece of land was sought on the ground that two of the four
parties thereto were minors, 18 and 19 years old, respectively, on the date when the instrument
was executed, but no direct proof of this alleged circumstance was adduced by means of certified
copies of the baptismal certificates of the two minors, nor any supplemental proof such as might
establish that in fact they were minors on that date.
The court declared that the contract of sale was VALID, even if it were made and entered into by
minors, who pretended to be of legal age. The court stated that they will not be permitted to
excuse themselves from the fulfillment of the obligations contracted by them, or to have them
The ruling was in accordance with the provisions on law on estoppel and Rule 123, Section 6
paragraph A which states that “whenever a party has, by its own declaration, act or omission,
intentionally and deliberately led another party to believe a particular thing to be true, and to act
upon such belief, he cannot, in any litigation arising out of such declaration, cannot be permitted
to falsify it.
The courts have laid down the rule that the sale of real estate, effected by minors who have
already passed the ages of puberty and adolescence and are near the adult age when they
pretend to have already reached their majority, while in fact they have not, is valid, and they
cannot be permitted afterwards to excuse themselves from compliance with the obligation
assumed by them or to seek their annulment. (Law 6, title 19, 6th partida.) The judgment that
holds such a sale to be valid and absolves the purchaser from the complaint filed against him
does not violate the laws relative to the sale of minors' property nor the rules laid down in
consonance therewith. (Decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain, of April 27, 1860, July 11, 1868,
and March 1, 1875.) This doctrine is entirely in accord with the provisions of section 333 of the
Code of Civil Procedure, which determines cases of estoppel.

GR no. L-12790 Aug31, 1960

In a complaint filed on June 7, 1955, in the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Zamboanga, the Joel
Jimenez prays for a decree annulling his marriage to Remedios Canizares with the following facts:
(a) Such marriage was contracted on August 3, 1950 before a judge of the municipal court of
Zamboanga City;
(b) The ground for the annulment was that the office of the Remedios Canizares’ genitals was to
small to allow the penetration of a male organ or penis for copulation;
(c) On June 14, 1955, Remedios Canizareswas summoned and served a copy of the complaint.
She did not file an answer.
(d) On September 29, 1956, pursuant to Article 88 of the Civil Code, the Court directed the city
attorney of Zamboanga to inquire whether there was a collusion, to intervene for the State to see
that the evidence of the plaintiff is not a frame-up, concocted, or fabricated;
(e) On December 17, 1956, the Court entered an order requiring Remedios Canizares to submit
to a physical examination by a competent lady physician to determine her physical capacity for
copulation and to submit, within ten (10) days from the receipt of the order, a medical certificate
on the result thereof.
(f) On March 14, 1957, Remedios Canizares was granted additional five (5) days to comply in
relation to the order issued in the preceding number.
(g) On April, 11, 1957, Remedios Canizares did not show. The Court deemed lack of interest on
her part in the case. The Court entered a decree annulling the marriage between Joel Jimenez
and the Remedios Canizares.
On April 26, 1957, the city attorney filed a motion for reconsideration of the decree thus entered
upon the ground that:
(a) Remedios Canizares’ impotency was not satisfactorily established as required by law;
(b) That instead of annulling the marriage the Court should have punished her for contempt of
court and compelled her to undergo a physical examination and submit a medical certificate; and
(c) That the decree sough to be reconsidered would open the door to married couples, who want
to end their marriage to collude or connive with each other by just alleging impotency of one of
He prayed that the complaint be dismissed that the wife be ordered for a physical examination.
On May 13, 1957, the motion for reconsideration was denied.

Issue: WON the marriage in question may be annulled on the strength only of the lone testimony
of the husband who claimed and testified that his wife was and is impotent.

No. The lone testimony of the husband that his wife is physically incapable of sexual intercourse
is insufficient to tear asunder the ties that have bound them together as husband and wife. The
incidents of the status are governed by law, not by will of the parties. The law specifically
enumerates the legal grounds that must be proved to exist by indubitable evidence, to annul a
marriage. In the case at bar, the annulment of the marriage in question was decreed upon the
sole testimony of the husband who was expected to give testimony tending or aiming at securing
the annulment of his marriage he sought and seeks. Whether the wife is really impotent cannot
be deemed to have been satisfactorily established because from the commencement of the
proceedings until the entry of the decree she had abstained from taking part therein.
Although the wife's refusal to be examined or failure to appear in court show indifference on her
part, yet from such attitude the presumption arising out of the suppression of evidence could not
arise or be inferred, because women of this country are by nature coy, bashful and shy and would
not submit to a physical examination unless compelled to by competent authority. This the court
may do without doing violence to and infringing upon her constitutional right. A physical
examination in this case is not self-incrimination. She is not charged with any offense. She is not
being compelled to be a witness against herself. Impotency being an abnormal condition should
not be presumed.
HThe decree is set aside and the case was remanded to the lower court for further proceedings
in accordance with the decision, without pronouncement as to costs.