Eastern Shipping Lines v. CA

G.R. No. 97421, July 12, 1994, 234 SCRA 781

FACTS:

This is an action filed by the insurer-subrogee who paid the consignee the value of damages sustained by a shipment while in the successive custody of defendants carrier (Eastern), arrastre operator (Metro Port) and broker (Allied Brokerage).

ISSUES:

(a) Whether or not a claim for damage sustained on a shipment of goods can be a solidary, or joint and several, liability of the common carrier, the arrastre operator and the customs broker

(b) Whether the payment of legal interest on an award for loss or damage is to be computed from the time the complaint is filed or from the date the decision appealed from is rendered

RULING:

(a) YES, it is solidary. Since it is the duty of the arrastre to take good care of the goods that are in its custody and to deliver them in good condition to the consignee, such responsibility also devolves upon the carrier. Thus, both the arrastre and the carrier are therefore charged with the obligation to deliver the goods in good condition to the consignee.

The common carrier’s duty to observe the requisite diligence in the shipment of goods lasts from the time the articles are surrendered to or unconditionally placed in the possession of, and received by, the carrier for transportation until delivered to, or until the lapse of a reasonable time for their acceptance by, the person entitled to receive them.

(b) GUIDELINES BY THE SUPREME COURT

I. When an obligation, regardless of its source, i.e., law, contracts, quasi-contracts, delicts or quasi-delicts is breached, the contravenor can be held liable for damages. The provisions under Title XVIII on “Damages” of the Civil Code govern in determining the measure of recoverable damages.

II. With regard particularly to an award of interest in the concept of actual and compensatory damages, the rate of interest, as well as the accrual thereof, is imposed, as follows:

1. When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum of money, i.e., a loan or forbearance of money, the interest due should be that which may have been stipulated in writing. Furthermore, the interest due shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially demanded. In the absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12% per annum to be computed from default, i.e., from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and subject to the provisions of Article 1169 of the Civil Code.

2. When an obligation, not constituting a loan or forbearance of money, is breached, an interest on the amount of damages awarded may be imposed at the discretion of the court at the rate of 6% per annum. No interest, however, shall be adjudged on unliquidated claims or damages except when or until the demand can be established with reasonable certainty. Accordingly, where the demand is established with reasonable certainty, the interest shall begin to run from the time the claim is made judicially or extrajudicially (Art. 1169, Civil Code) but when such certainty cannot be so reasonably established at the time the demand is made, the interest shall begin to run only from the date the judgment of the court is made (at which time the quantification of damages may be deemed to have been reasonably ascertained). The actual base for the computation of legal interest shall, in any case, be on the amount finally adjudged.

3. When the judgment of the court awarding a sum of money becomes final and executory, the rate of legal interest, whether the case falls under paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, above, shall be 12% per annum from such finality until its satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to be by then an equivalent to a forbearance of credit.

(c) whether the applicable rate of interest, referred to above, is twelve percent (12%) or six percent (6%).

SIX PERCENT (6%) on the amount due computed from the decision, dated 03 February 1988, of the court a quo (Court of Appeals) AND A TWELVE PERCENT (12%) interest, in lieu of SIX PERCENT (6%), shall be imposed on such amount upon finality of the Supreme Court decision until the payment thereof.

When the judgment awarding a sum of money becomes final and executory, the monetary award shall earn interest at 12% per annum from the date of such finality until its satisfaction, regardless of whether the case involves a loan or forbearance of money. The reason is that this interim period is deemed to be by then equivalent to a forbearance of credit.

The Central Bank Circular imposing the 12% interest per annum applies only to loans or forbearance of money, goods or credits, as well as to judgments involving such loan or forbearance of money, goods or credits, and that the 6% interest under the Civil Code governs when the transaction involves the payment of indemnities in the concept of damage arising from the breach or a delay in the performance of obligations in general. Observe, too, that in these cases, a common time frame in the computation of the 6% interest per annum has been applied, i.e., from the time the complaint is filed until the adjudged amount is fully paid.

 * Case digest by Cherrie Mae Aguila-Granada, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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