Monday, January 30, 2012

Gokongwei vs. SEC, 89 SCRA 336 (1979)

Facts: Petitioner, stockholder of San Miguel Corp. filed a petition with the SEC for the declaration of nullity of the by-laws etc. against the majority members of the BOD and San Miguel. It is stated in the by-laws that the amendment or modification of the by-laws may only be delegated to the BODs upon an affirmative vote of stockholders representing not less than 2/3 of the subscribed and paid uo capital stock of the corporation, which 2/3 could have been computed on the basis of the capitalization at the time of the amendment. Petitioner contends that the amendment was based on the 1961 authorization, the Board acted without authority and in usurpation of the power of the stockholders n amending the by-laws in 1976. He also contends that the 1961 authorization was already used in 1962 and 1963. He also contends that the amendment deprived him of his right to vote and be voted upon as a stockholder (because it disqualified competitors from nomination and election in the BOD of SMC), thus the amended by-laws were null and void. While this was pending, the corporation called for a stockholder’s meeting for the ratification of the amendment to the by-laws. This prompted petitioner to seek for summary judgment. This was denied by the SEC. In another case filed by petitioner, he alleged that the corporation had been using corporate funds in other corps and businesses outside the primary purpose clause of the corporation in violation of the Corporation Code.

Issue: Are amendments valid?

Held: The validity and reasonableness of a by-law is purely a question of law. Whether the by-law is in conflict with the law of the land, or with the charter of the corporation or is in legal sense unreasonable and therefore unlawful is a question of law. However, this is limited where the reasonableness of a by-law is a mere matter of judgment, and one upon which reasonable minds must necessarily differ, a court would not be warranted in substituting its judgment instead of the judgment of those who are authorized to make by-laws and who have exercised authority. The Court held that a corporation has authority prescribed by law to prescribe the qualifications of directors. It has the inherent power to adopt by-laws for its internal government, and to regulate the conduct and prescribe the rights and duties of its members towards itself and among themselves in reference to the management of its affairs. A corporation, under the Corporation law, may prescribe in its by-laws the qualifications, duties and compensation of directors, officers, and employees. Any person who buys stock in a corporation does so with the knowledge that its affairs are dominated by a majority of the stockholders and he impliedly contracts that the will of the majority shall govern in all matters within the limits of the acts of incorporation and lawfully enacted by-laws and not forbidden by law. Any corporation may amend its by-laws by the owners of the majority of the subscribed stock. It cannot thus be said that petitioners has the vested right, as a stock holder, to be elected director, in the face of the fact that the law at the time such stockholder's right was acquired contained the prescription that the corporate charter and the by-laws shall be subject to amendment, alteration and modification. A Director stands in a fiduciary relation to the corporation and its shareholders, which is characterized as a trust relationship. An amendment to the corporate by-laws which renders a stockholder ineligible to be director, if he be also director in a corporation whose business is in competition with that of the other corporation, has been sustained as valid. This is based upon the principle that where the director is employed in the service of a rival company, he cannot serve both, but must betray one or the other. The amendment in this case serves to advance the benefit of the corporation and is good. Corporate officers are also not permitted to use their position of trust and confidence to further their private needs, and the act done in furtherance of private needs is deemed to be for the benefit of the corporation. This is called the doctrine of corporate opportunity.

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1 comments: on "Gokongwei vs. SEC, 89 SCRA 336 (1979)"

Princess Catherine Acosta-Yson said...

thank you. it really helps especially working law students

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