G.R. No. 94753, 7 April 1993

FACTS:

The facts as found by the appellate court, revealed that petitioner herein (then defendant-appellant) is the owner of a certain parcel of land and building which were formerly leased by the City of Manila and used by the Claro M. Recto High School, at M.F. Jhocson Street, Sampaloc Manila. By means of a letter 5 dated July 5, 1966, petitioner authorized herein private respondent Salvador Saligumba to negotiate with the City of Manila the sale of the aforementioned property for not less than P425,000.00. In the same writing, petitioner agreed to pay private respondent a five percent (5%) commission in the event the sale is finally consummated and paid.

Finally, through another letter dated November 16, 1967, the corporation with Rufino Manotok, its President, as signatory, authorized private respondent to finalize and consummate the sale of the property to the City of Manila for not less than P410,000.00. With this letter came another extension of 180 days.

The Municipal Board of the City of Manila eventually, on April 26, 1968, passed Ordinance No. 6603, appropriating the sum of P410,816.00 for the purchase of the property which private respondent was authorized to sell. Said ordinance however, was signed by the City Mayor only on May 17, 1968, one hundred eighty three (183) days after the last letter of authorization. Notwithstanding the realization of the sale, private respondent never received any commission, which should have amounted to P20,554.50. This was due to the refusal of petitioner to pay private respondent said amount as the former does not recognize the latter’s role as agent in the transaction.

Private respondent filed a complaint against petitioner, alleging that he had successfully negotiated the sale of the property. He claimed that it was because of his efforts that the Municipal Board of Manila passed Ordinance No. 6603 which appropriated the sum for the payment of the property subject of the sale.

Petitioner claimed otherwise. It denied the claim of private respondent on the following grounds: (1) private respondent would be entitled to a commission only if the sale was consummated and the price paid within the period given in the respective letters of authority; and (2) private respondent was not the person responsible for the negotiation and consummation of the sale, instead it was Filomeno E. Huelgas, the PTA president of the Claro M. Recto High School.

Thereafter, the then Court of First Instance (now, Regional Trial Court) rendered judgment sentencing petitioner and/or Rufino Manotok to pay unto private respondent the sum of P20,540.00 by way of his commission fees with legal interest thereon. Petitioner appealed said decision, but to no avail. Respondent Court of Appeals affirmed the said ruling of the trial court. Hence this petition.

ISSUE:

The sole issue to be addressed in this petition is whether or not private respondent is entitled to the five percent (5%) agent’s commission.

RULING:

It is petitioner’s contention that as a broker, private respondent’s job is to bring together the parties to a transaction. Accordingly, if the broker does not succeed in bringing the minds of the purchaser and the vendor to an agreement with respect to the sale, he is not entitled to a commission.

Private respondent, on the other hand, opposes petitioner’s position maintaining that it was because of his efforts that a purchase actually materialized between the parties.

We rule in favor of private respondent.

At first sight, it would seem that private respondent is not entitled to any commission as he was not successful in consummating the sale between the parties, for the sole reason that when the Deed of Sale was finally executed, his extended authority had already expired. By this alone, one might be misled to believe that this case squarely falls within the ambit of the established principle that a broker or agent is not entitled to any commission until he has successfully done the job given to him.

In the case at bar, private respondent is the efficient procuring cause for without his efforts, the municipality would not have anything to pass and the Mayor would not have anything to approve. This Court ruled in another case that when there is a close, proximate and causal connection between the agent’s efforts and labor and the principal’s sale of his property, the agent is entitled to a commission.

We agree with respondent Court that the City of Manila ultimately became the purchaser of petitioner’s property mainly through the efforts of private respondent. Without discounting the fact that when Municipal Ordinance No. 6603 was signed by the City Mayor on May 17, 1968, private respondent’s authority had already expired, it is to be noted that the ordinance was approved on April 26, 1968 when private respondent’s authorization was still in force. Moreover, the approval by the City Mayor came only three days after the expiration of private respondent’s authority. It is also worth emphasizing that from the records, the only party given a written authority by petitioner to negotiate the sale from July 5, 1966 to May 14, 1968 was private respondent.

While it may be true that FilomenoHuelgas followed up the matter with Councilor Magsalin, the author of Municipal Ordinance No. 6603 and Mayor Villegas, his intervention regarding the purchase came only after the ordinance had already been passed — when the buyer has already agreed to the purchase and to the price for which said property is to be paid. Without the efforts of private respondent then, Mayor Villegas would have nothing to approve in the first place. It was actually private respondent’s labor that had set in motion the intervention of the third party that produced the sale, hence he should be amply compensated. WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing and finding no reversible error committed by respondent Court, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.

*Case digest by Paul C. Gandola (Refresher), Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2019-2020