Wednesday, February 22, 2012

BPI vs. CA 326 SCRA 641 (2000)

Facts: Private respondent Benjamin Napiza deposited in his foreign current deposit with BPI a dollar check owned by Henry Chan in which he affixed his signature at the dorsal side thereof. For this purpose, Napiza gave Chan a signed blank withdrawal slip. However, Gayon Jr. got hold of the withdrawal slip and used it to withdraw the proceeds of the dollar check, even before the check was cleared and without the presentation of the bank passbook. 

(1) Whether or not petitioner can hold private respondent liable for the proceeds of the check for having affixed his signature at the dorsal side as indorser; and 

(2) Whether or not the bank was negligent as the proximate cause of the loss and should be held liable. 

(1) No. Ordinarily, private respondent may be held liable as an indorser of the check or even as an accommodation party. However, to hold him liable would result in an injustice. The interest of justice thus demands looking into the events that led to the encashment of the check. 

Under the rules appearing in the passbook that BPI issued to private respondent, to be able to withdraw under the Philippine foreign currency deposit system, two requisites must be presented to petitioner BPI by the person withdrawing an amount: 

1) A duly filled-up withdrawal slip; and 

2) The depositor’s passbook. 

Petitioner bank alleged that had private respondent indicated therein the person authorized to receive the money, then Gayon could not have withdrawn any amount. However, the withdrawal slip itself indicates a special instruction that the amount is payable to “Ramon de Guzman and/or Agnes de Guzman”. Such being the case, petitioner’s personnel should have been duly warned that Gayon was not the proper payee of the proceeds of the check. Moreover, the fact that private respondent’s passbook was not presented during the withdrawal is evidenced by the entries therein showing that the last transaction that he made was when he deposited the subject check. 

(2) Yes. A bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors “with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship”. Petitioner failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of a family. In total disregard of its own rules, petitioner’s personnel negligently handled private respondent’s account to petitioner’s detriment. 

The proximate cause of the withdrawal and eventual loss of the amount of $2,500.00 on petitioner’s part was its personnel’s negligence in allowing such withdrawal in disregard of its own rules and the clearing requirement in the banking system. In so doing, petitioner assumed the risk of incurring a loss on account of a forged or counterfeit foreign check and hence, it should suffer the resulting damage. 

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