Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BPI vs. Casa Montessori Internationale, G. R. No. 149454 & 149507, May 28, 2004

Facts: CASA Montessori International opened an account with BPI, with CASA’s President as one of its authorized signatories. It discovered that 9 of its checks had been encashed by a certain Sonny D. Santos whose name turned out to be fictitious, and was used by a certain Yabut, CASA’s external auditor. He voluntarily admitted that he forged the signature and encashed the checks.

RTC granted the Complaint for Collection with Damages against BPI ordering to reinstate the amount in the account, with interest. CA took account of CASA’s contributory negligence and apportioned the loss between CASA and BPI, and ordred Yabut to reimburse both.

BPI contends that the monthly statements it issues to its clients contain a notice worded as follows: “If no error is reported in 10 days, account will be correct” and as such, it should be considered a waiver.

Issue:Whether or not waiver or estoppel results from failure to report the error in the bank statement

Held: Such notice cannot be considered a waiver, even if CASA failed to report the error. Neither is it estopped from questioning the mistake after the lapse of the ten-day period.

This notice is a simple confirmation or "circularization" -- in accounting parlance -- that requests client-depositors to affirm the accuracy of items recorded by the banks. Its purpose is to obtain from the depositors a direct corroboration of the correctness of their account balances with their respective banks.

Every right has subjects -- active and passive. While the active subject is entitled to demand its enforcement, the passive one is duty-bound to suffer such enforcement. On the one hand, BPI could not have been an active subject, because it could not have demanded from CASA a response to its notice. CASA, on the other hand, could not have been a passive subject, either, because it had no obligation to respond. It could -- as it did -- choose not to respond.

Estoppel precludes individuals from denying or asserting, by their own deed or representation, anything contrary to that established as the truth, in legal contemplation. Our rules on evidence even make a juris et de jure presumption that whenever one has, by one’s own act or omission, intentionally and deliberately led another to believe a particular thing to be true and to act upon that belief, one cannot -- in any litigation arising from such act or omission -- be permitted to falsify that supposed truth.

In the instant case, CASA never made any deed or representation that misled BPI. The former’s omission, if any, may only be deemed an innocent mistake oblivious to the procedures and consequences of periodic audits. Since its conduct was due to such ignorance founded upon an innocent mistake, estoppel will not arise. A person who has no knowledge of or consent to a transaction may not be estopped by it. "Estoppel cannot be sustained by mere argument or doubtful inference x x x." CASA is not barred from questioning BPI’s error even after the lapse of the period given in the notice.

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