G.R. No. L-25494, 14 June 1972, 45 SCRA 368

FACTS:

Sanchez (plaintiff-appellee) wishes to enforce the contract whereby the respondents transfer to the former land via an instrument entitled an Option to Purchase. Rigos (plaintiff-appellant) contends that the contract between the parties “is a unilateral promise to sell, and the same being unsupported by any valuable consideration, by force of the New Civil Code, is null and void”. This case is raised for the proper application of Article 1479 of the Civil Code.

ISSUE:

Is the “Option to Purchase” void for lack of consideration?

RULING:

No, it is binding as there already has been acceptance.

In order that said unilateral promise may be “binding upon the promisor, Article 1479 requires the concurrence of a condition, namely, that the promise be “supported by a consideration distinct from the price.” Accordingly, the promisee cannot compel the promisor to comply with the promise, unless the former establishes the existence of said distinct consideration. In other words, the promisee has the burden of proving such consideration. Plaintiff herein has not even alleged the existence thereof in his complaint.

There is no question that under article 1479 of the new Civil Code “an option to sell,” or “a promise to buy or to sell,” as used in said article, to be valid must be “supported by a consideration distinct from the price.” This is clearly inferred from the context of said article that a unilateral promise to buy or to sell, even if accepted, is only binding if supported by consideration. In other words, “an accepted unilateral promise can only have a binding effect if supported by a consideration which means that the option can still be withdrawn, even if accepted, if the same is not supported by any consideration. It is not disputed that the option is without consideration. It can therefore be withdrawn notwithstanding the acceptance of it by appellee.

An option is unilateral: a promise to sell at the price fixed whenever the offeree should decide to exercise his option within the specified time. After accepting the promise and before he exercises his option, the holder of the option is not bound to buy. He is free either to buy or not to buy later. In this case, however, upon accepting herein petitioner’s offer a bilateral promise to sell and to buy ensued, and the respondent ipso facto assumed the obligation of a purchaser. He did not just get the right subsequently to buy or not to buy. It was not a mere option then; it was a bilateral contract of sale. “If the option is given without a consideration, it is a mere offer of a contract of sale, which is not binding until accepted. If, however, acceptance is made before a withdrawal, it constitutes a binding contract of sale, even though the option was not supported by a sufficient consideration

In other words, since there may be no valid contract without a cause or consideration, the promisor is not bound by his promise and may, accordingly, withdraw it. Pending notice of its withdrawal, his accepted promise partakes, however, of the nature of an offer to sell which, if accepted, results in a perfected contract of sale.

*Case digest by Roger Angielo V. Atenta, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019-2020