G.R. No. 181416, 11 November 2013
Respondent Robert H. Cullen purchased from MLHI condominium Unit.
On September 19, 2002, petitioner, through its corporate secretary, Dr. Jose Giovanni E. Dimayuga, demanded from respondent payment for alleged unpaid association dues and assessments amounting to ₱145,567.42. Respondent disputed this demand claiming that he had been religiously paying his dues shown by the fact that he was previously elected president and director of petitioner. Petitioner, on the other hand, claimed that respondent’s obligation was a carry-over of that of MLHI.
Consequently, respondent was prevented from exercising his right to vote and be voted for during the 2002 election of petitioner’s Board of Directors.6 Respondent thus clarified from MLHI the veracity of petitioner’s claim, but MLHI allegedly claimed that the same had already been settled. This prompted respondent to demand from petitioner an explanation why he was considered a delinquent payer despite the settlement of the obligation. Petitioner failed to make such explanation. Hence, the Complaint for Damages filed by respondent against petitioner and MLHI.
Whether or not the controversy involve intra-corporate issues as would fall within the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a special commercial court or an ordinary action for damages within the jurisdiction of regular court.
In determining whether a dispute constitutes an intra-corporate controversy, the Court uses two tests, namely, the relationship test and the nature of the controversy test.
An intra-corporate controversy is one which pertains to any of the following relationships: (1) between the corporation, partnership or association and the public; (2) between the corporation, partnership or association and the State insofar as its franchise, permit or license to operate is concerned; (3) between the corporation, partnership or association and its stockholders, partners, members or officers; and (4) among the stockholders, partners or associates themselves.22 Thus, under the relationship test, the existence of any of the above intra-corporate relations makes the case intra-corporate.
Applying the two tests, we find and so hold that the case involves intra-corporate controversy. It obviously arose from the intra-corporate relations between the parties, and the questions involved pertain to their rights and obligations under the Corporation Code and matters relating to the regulation of the corporation.
Admittedly, petitioner is a condominium corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws, charged with the management of the Medical Plaza Makati. Respondent, on the other hand, is the registered owner of Unit No. 1201 and is thus a stockholder/member of the condominium corporation. Clearly, there is an intra-corporate relationship between the corporation and a stockholder/member.
Being corporate in nature, the issues should be threshed out before the RTC sitting as a special commercial court.
*Case Digest by Catherine C. Velasco, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2019-2020