G.R. No. 187769, 4 June 2014
The petitioner and the respondent Napoleon Gutierrez (Gutierrez) entered into a business venture under the name of Slam Dunk Corporation (Slum Dunk). Petitioner was a decorated professional basketball player while Gutierrez was a well-known sports columnist. Petitioner pre-signed several checks to answer for the expenses of Slam Dunk.
Although signed, these checks had no payee’s name, date or amount. The blank checks were entrusted to Gutierrez with the specific instruction not to fill them out without previous notification to and approval by the petitioner.
Without the petitioner’s knowledge and consent, Gutierrez went to Marasigan to secure a loan. Marasigan acceded to Gutierrez’ request and gave him P200,000.00 from one of the blank checks the petitioner pre-signed with the blank portions filled out. Marasigan deposited the check but it was dishonored for the reason “ACCOUNT CLOSED.” It was later revealed that petitioner’s account with the bank had been closed.
Marasigan sought recovery from Gutierrez, to no avail. He sent demand letters to the petitioner asking for the payment of P200,000.00, but his demands likewise went unheeded. Consequently, he filed a criminal case for violation of B.P. 22 against the petitioner.
Whether respondent Gutierrez has completely filled out the subject check strictly under the authority given by the petitioner.
Gutierrez has exceeded the authority to fill up the blanks and use the check. Petitioner gave Gutierrez pre-signed checks to be used in their business provided that he could only use them upon his approval.
While Gutierrez had a prima facie authority to complete the check, such does not extend to its use once the check is completed. The law used the term “prima facie” to underscore that the authority is a presumption juris tantum only; hence, subject to subject to contrary proof. Thus, evidence that the authority granted has been exceeded may be presented by the maker in order to avoid liability under the instrument. In the present case, no evidence is on record that Gutierrez ever secured prior approval from the petitioner to fill up the blank or to use the check.
Notably, Gutierrez was only authorized to use the check for business expenses; thus, he exceeded the authority when he used the check to pay the loan he supposedly contracted for the construction of petitioner’s house. This is a clear violation of the petitioner’s instruction to use the checks for the expenses of Slam Dunk. It cannot therefore be validly concluded that the check was completed strictly in accordance with the authority given by the petitioner.
*Case digest by Teonilo M. Bagalanon Jr., JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2019-2020