G.R. No. 128120, 20 October 2004
Private respondent seeks to enforce a contract of sale between it and the petitioner when the latter allegedly accepted its bid to purchase the former’s shares. Petitioner counters that it did not accept the bid and merely advised the private respondent to conduct a pre-acquisition audit. The trial court ruled in favor of the petitioner’s while the CA reversed the same and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.
Was there a perfected contract of sale?
There was none. This was caused by the lack of consent or meeting of the minds of the parties regarding the price of the shares.
In the case of a contract of sale, required is the concurrence of three elements, to wit: (a) consent or meeting of the minds, that is, consent to transfer ownership in exchange for the price; (b) determinate subject matter, and (c) price certain in money or its equivalent. Such contract is born from the moment there is a meeting of minds upon the thing which is the object of the contract and upon the price.
In general, contracts undergo three distinct stages, to wit: negotiation; perfection or birth; and consummation. Negotiation begins from the time the prospective contracting parties manifest their interest in the contract and ends at the moment of agreement of the parties. Perfection or birth of the contract takes place when the parties agree upon the essential elements of the contract. Consummation occurs when the parties fulfill or perform the terms agreed upon in the contract, culminating in the extinguishment thereof.
A negotiation is formally initiated by an offer. An offer would require, among other things, a clear certainty on both the object and the cause or consideration of the envisioned contract. Consent in a contract of sale should be manifested by the meeting of the offer and the acceptance upon the thing and the cause which are to constitute the contract. The offer must be certain and the acceptance absolute. A qualified acceptance constitutes a counter-offer.
Private respondent repeatedly stressed in his letters that they would not be able to submit their final bid by 30 June 1990.With indubitable inconsistency, respondents later claimed that for all intents and purposes, the US$36 million was their final bid. If this were so, it would be inane for Litonjua to state, as he did, in his letter dated 28 June 1990 that they would be in a position to submit their final bid only on 17 July 1990. The lack of a definite offer on the part of respondents could not possibly serve as the basis of their claim that the sale of the Phimco shares in their favor was perfected, for one essential element of a contract of sale was obviously wanting the price certain in money or its equivalent. The price must be certain, otherwise there is no true consent between the parties. There can be no sale without a price. Quite recently, this Court reiterated the long-standing doctrine that the manner of payment of the purchase price is an essential element before a valid and binding contract of sale can exist since the agreement on the manner of payment goes into the price such that a disagreement on the manner of payment is tantamount to a failure to agree on the price.
Granting arguendo, that the amount of US$36 million was a definite offer, it would remain as a mere offer in the absence of evidence of its acceptance. To produce a contract, there must be acceptance, which may be express or implied, but it must not qualify the terms of the offer. The acceptance of an offer must be unqualified and absolute to perfect the contract. In other words, it must be identical in all respects with that of the offer so as to produce consent or meeting of the minds.
Respondents’ attempt to prove the alleged verbal acceptance of their US$36 million bid becomes futile in the face of the overwhelming evidence on record that there was in the first place no meeting of the minds with respect to the price. It is dramatically clear that the US$36 million was not the actual price agreed upon but merely a preliminary offer which was subject to adjustment after the conclusion of the audit of the company finances. Respondents’ failure to submit their final bid on the deadline set by petitioners prevented the perfection of the contract of sale. It was not perfected due to the absence of one essential element which was the price certain in money or its equivalent.
*Case digest by Roger Angielo V. Atenta, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019-2020