G.R. No. L-20435, 23 October 1923
Asiain said to Jalandoni that he was willing to sell a portion of his hacienda for the sum of P55,000. With a wave of his hand, Asiain indicated the tract of land in question, affirming that it contained between 25 and 30 hectares, and that the crop of sugar cane then planted would produce not less than 2,000 piculs of sugar. But Jalandoni, remaining doubtful as to the extent of the land and as to the amount of crop on it. Once in possession of the land, Jalandoni did two things. He had the sugar cane ground in La Carlota Sugar Central with the result that it gave and output of P800 piculs and 23 cates of centrifugal sugar. When opportunity offered, he secured the certificate of title of Asiain and produced a surveyor to survey the land. According to his survey, the parcel in question contained an area of 118 hectares, 54 ares, and 22 centiares.
Of the purchase price of P55,000, Jalandoni had paid P30,000, leaving a balance unpaid of P25,000. To recover the sum of P25,000 from Jalandoni or to obtain the certificate of title and the rent from him, action was begun by Asiain in the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros. Defendant interposed that the contract be annulled, both parties to return whatever they had received, and that he recover from the plaintiff the sum of P3,600 annually as damages.
Whether or not the contract can be rescinded?
The memorandum-agreement between Asiain and Jalandoni contains the phrase or “more or less.” It is the general view that this phrase or others of like import, added to a statement of quantity, can only be considered as covering inconsiderable or small differences one way or the other, and do not in themselves determine the character of the sale as one in gross or by the acre. The use of this phrase in designating quantity covers only a reasonable excess or deficiency. Such words may indeed relieve from exactness but not from gross deficiency.
Coordinating more closely the law and the facts in the instant case, we reach the following conclusions: This was not a contract of hazard. It was a sale in gross in which there was a mutual mistake as to the quantity of land sold and as to the amount of the standing crop. The mistake of fact as disclosed not alone by the terms of the contract but by the attendant circumstances, which it is proper to consider in order to throw light upon the intention of the parties, is, as it is sometimes expressed, the efficient cause of the concoction. The mistake with reference to the subject-matter of the contract is such that, at the option of the purchaser, it is rescindable. Without such mistake the agreement would not have been made and since this is true, the agreement is inoperative and void. It is not exactly a case of over reaching on the plaintiff’s part, or of misrepresentation and deception, or of fraud, but is more nearly akin to a bilateral mistake for which relief should be granted. Specific performance of the contract can therefore not be allowed at the instance of the vendor.
The ultimate result is to put the parties back in exactly their respective positions before they became involved in the negotiations and before the accomplishment of the agreement. This was the decision of the trial judge and we think that decision conforms to the facts, the law, and the principles of equity.
Judgment is affirmed, without prejudice to the right of the plaintiff to establish in this action in the lower court the amount of the rent of the land pursuant to the terms of the complaint during the time the land was in the possession of the defendant.
* Case digest by Leizel O. Lagare, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018