Petitioner, an actress, filed a complaint against Hollywood Far East Productions to recover fees for her services as leading actress in two motion pictures produced by the company. Respondent judge, De los Angeles ordered the complaint dismissed grounded on the reason that the “claim of plaintiff was not evidenced by any written document, either public or private”. That according to Article 1358 governing unenforceable contracts, writing was absolute and indispensable, because the amount involved exceeds five hundred pesos.
WON said contract must be in writing to be valid and enforceable.
No. The aforementioned contract needs not to be in writing.
Article 1315 of the Civil Code provides that: “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.”. Furthermore Article 1356 of the same book provides that: “Contracts shall be obligatory in whatever form they may have been entered into, provided all the essential requisites for their validity are present….” Exemptions to the general rule are solemn contracts (needs to be in writing to be valid) and memorandums (governed by Article 1402(2) of the Statute of Frauds).
In the matter of formalities, the contractual system of our Civil Code still follows the upholding of the spirit and intent of the parties over formalities: hence, in general, contracts are valid and binding from their perfection regardless of form whether they be oral or written. Petition is with merit and case remanded to lower court for fee determination.
* Case digest by Ariel M. Acopiado, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018