Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fule v. CA


Gregorio Fule, a banker and a jeweller, offered to sell his parcel of land to Dr. Cruz in exchange for P40,000 and a diamond earring owned by the latter. A deed of absolute sale was prepared by Atty. Belarmino, and on the same day Fule went to the bank with Dichoso and Mendoza, and Dr. Cruz arrived shortly thereafter. Dr. Cruz got the earrings from her safety deposit box and handed it to Fule who, when asked if those were alright, nodded and took the earrings. Two hours after, Fule complained that the earrings were fake. He files a complaint to declare the sale null and void on the ground of fraud and deceit.


Whether the sale should be nullified on the ground of fraud


A contract of sale is perfected at the moment there is a meeting of the minds upon the thing which is the object of the contract and upon the price. Being consensual, a contract of sale has the force of law between the contracting parties and they are expected to abide in good faith by their respective contractual commitments. It is evident from the facts of the case that there was a meeting of the minds between petitioner and Dr. Cruz. As such, they are bound by the contract unless there are reasons or circumstances that warrant its nullification.

Contracts that are voidable or annullable, even though there may have been no damage to the contracting parties are: (1) those where one of the parties is incapable of giving consent to a contract; and (2) those where the consent is vitiated by mistake, violence, intimidation, undue influence or fraud. The records, however, are bare of any evidence manifesting that private respondents employed such insidious words or machinations to entice petitioner into entering the contract of barter. It was in fact petitioner who resorted to machinations to convince Dr. Cruz to exchange her jewelry for the Tanay property.

Furthermore, petitioner was afforded the reasonable opportunity required in Article 1584 of the Civil Code within which to examine the jewelry as he in fact accepted them when asked by Dr. Cruz if he was satisfied with the same. By taking the jewelry outside the bank, petitioner executed an act which was more consistent with his exercise of ownership over it. This gains credence when it is borne in mind that he himself had earlier delivered the Tanay property to Dr. Cruz by affixing his signature to the contract of sale. That after two hours he later claimed that the jewelry was not the one he intended in exchange for his Tanay property, could not sever the juridical tie that now bound him and Dr. Cruz. The nature and value of the thing he had taken preclude its return after that supervening period within which anything could have happened, not excluding the alteration of the jewelry or its being switched with an inferior kind.

Ownership over the parcel of land and the pair of emerald-cut diamond earrings had been transferred to Dr. Cruz and petitioner, respectively, upon the actual and constructive delivery thereof. Said contract of sale being absolute in nature, title passed to the vendee upon delivery of the thing sold since there was no stipulation in the contract that title to the property sold has been reserved in the seller until full payment of the price or that the vendor has the right to unilaterally resolve the contract the moment the buyer fails to pay within a fixed period.

While it is true that the amount of P40,000.00 forming part of the consideration was still payable to petitioner, its nonpayment by Dr. Cruz is not a sufficient cause to invalidate the contract or bar the transfer of ownership and possession of the things exchanged considering the fact that their contract is silent as to when it becomes due and demandable.

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