G.R. No. 151319, 22 November 2004
Florencia Baluyot offered Atty. Pedro L. Linsangan a lot called Garden State at the Holy Cross Memorial Park owned by petitioner (MMPCI). According to Baluyot, a former owner of a memorial lot under Contract No. 25012 was no longer interested in acquiring the lot and had opted to sell his rights subject to reimbursement of the amounts he already paid. The contract was for P95,000.00. Baluyot reassured Atty. Linsangan that once reimbursement is made to the former buyer, the contract would be transferred to him. Atty. Linsangan agreed and gave Baluyot P35,295.00 representing the amount to be reimbursed to the original buyer and to complete the down payment to MMPCI.3 Baluyot issued handwritten and typewritten receipts for these payments.
For the alleged failure of MMPCI and Baluyot to conform to their agreement, Atty. Linsangan filed a Complaint7 for Breach of Contract and Damages against the former.
The trial court held MMPCI and Baluyot jointly and severally liable.13 It found that Baluyot was an agent of MMPCI and that the latter was estopped from denying this agency, having received and enchased the checks issued by Atty. Linsangan and given to it by Baluyot.
MMPCI further alleged that it cannot be held jointly and solidarily liable with Baluyot as the latter exceeded the terms of her agency, neither did MMPCI ratify Baluyot’s acts.
Whether or not Baluyot is the agent of Manila Memorial Park Cemetry?
No. It is not its agent.
The Court does not agree. Pertinent to this case are the following provisions of the Civil Code:Art. 1898. If the agent contracts in the name of the principal, exceeding the scope of his authority, and the principal does not ratify the contract, it shall be void if the party with whom the agent contracted is aware of the limits of the powers granted by the principal. In this case, however, the agent is liable if he undertook to secure the principal’s ratification. Art. 1910. The principal must comply with all the obligations that the agent may have contracted within the scope of his authority. As for any obligation wherein the agent has exceeded his power, the principal is not bound except when he ratifies it expressly or tacitly. Art. 1911. Even when the agent has exceeded his authority, the principal is solidarily liable with the agent if the former allowed the latter to act as though he had full powers.
Thus, the acts of an agent beyond the scope of his authority do not bind the principal, unless he ratifies them, expressly or impliedly. Only the principal can ratify; the agent cannot ratify his own unauthorized acts. Moreover, the principal must have knowledge of the acts he is to ratify.
Ratification in agency is the adoption or confirmation by one person of an act performed on his behalf by another without authority. The substance of the doctrine is confirmation after conduct, amounting to a substitute for a prior authority. Ordinarily, the principal must have full knowledge at the time of ratification of all the material facts and circumstances relating to the unauthorized act of the person who assumed to act as agent. Thus, if material facts were suppressed or unknown, there can be no valid ratification and this regardless of the purpose or lack thereof in concealing such facts and regardless of the parties between whom the question of ratification may arise.45 Nevertheless, this principle does not apply if the principal’s ignorance of the material facts and circumstances was willful, or that the principal chooses to act in ignorance of the facts. However, in the absence of circumstances putting a reasonably prudent man on inquiry, ratification cannot be implied as against the principal who is ignorant of the facts.
No ratification can be implied in the instant case.
A perusal of Baluyot’s Answer reveals that the real arrangement between her and Atty. Linsangan was for the latter to pay a monthly installment of P1,800.00 whereas Baluyot was to shoulder the counterpart amount of P1,455.00 to meet the P3,255.00 monthly installments as indicated in the contract. Thus, every time an installment falls due, payment was to be made through a check from Atty. Linsangan for P1,800.00 and a cash component of P1,455.00 from Baluyot. However, it appears that while Atty. Linsangan issued the post-dated checks, Baluyot failed to come up with her part of the bargain. This was supported by Baluyot’s statements in her letterto Mr. Clyde Williams, Jr., Sales Manager of MMPCI, two days after she received the copy of the Complaint. In the letter, she admitted that she was remiss in her duties when she consented to Atty. Linsangan’s proposal that he will pay the old price while the difference will be shouldered by her. She likewise admitted that the contract suffered arrearages because while Atty. Linsangan issued the agreed checks, she was unable to give her share of P1,455.00 due to her own financial difficulties. Baluyot even asked for compassion from MMPCI for the error she committed.
*Case digest by Claudette Anne G. Sayson, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020