Saturday, March 03, 2012

Atilano vs. Atilano [GR No. L-22487 May 21, 1969]

Facts: In 1916, Atilano I acquired lot No. 535 by purchase. In 1920, he had the land subdivided into five parts, identified as lots Nos. 535-A, 535-B, 535-C, 535-D and 535-E, respectively. After the subdivision had been effected, Atilano I executed a deed of sale covering lot No. 535-E in favor of his brother Atilano II. Three other portions, namely, lots Nos. 535-B, 535-C, and 535-D, were likewise sold to other persons. Atilano I retained for himself the remaining portions of the land, presumably covered by the title to lot No. 535-A. upon his death, the title to this lot passed to Ladislao, in whose name the corresponding certificate was issued. 

On 1959, Atilano II and his children had the land resurveyed so that it could be properly subdivided. However, they discovered that the land they were actually occupying on the strength of the deed of sale was lot No. 353-A and not lot 535-E, while the land which remained in the possession of Atilano I, and which was passed to Ladislao was lot No. 353-E and not lot No. 535-A. 

On 1960, the heirs of Atilano II alleging, inter alia, that they offered to surrender to the possession of lot No. 535-A and demanded in return the possession of lot No. 535-E, but the defendants refused to accept the exchange. The plaintiffs' insistence is quite understandable, since lot No. 535-E has an area of 2,612 square meters as compared to the 1,808 square-meter area of lot No. 535-A. 

In their answer to the complaint, the defendants alleged that the reference to lot No. 535-E in the deed of sale was an involuntary error; that the intention of the parties to that sale was to convey the lot correctly identified as lot No. 535-A. On the basis of the foregoing allegations the defendants interposed a counterclaim, praying that the plaintiffs be ordered to execute in their favor the corresponding deed of transfer with respect to Lot No. 535-E. 

The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. 

Issue: Whether or not there has been a valid sale in view of the real intention of the parties. 

Held: From the facts and circumstances, the object is lot No. 535-A and its designation as lot No. 535-E in the deed of sale was a simple mistake in the drafting of the document. The mistake did not vitiate the consent of the parties, or affect the validity and binding effect of the contract between them. The new Civil Code provides a remedy by means of reformation of the instrument. This remedy is available when, there having been a meeting of the minds of the parties to a contract, their true intention is not expressed in the instrument purporting to embody the agreement by reason of mistake, fraud, inequitable conduct or accident 

In this case, the deed of sale executed in 1920 need no longer be reformed. The parties have retained possession of their respective properties conformably to the real intention of the parties to that sale, and all they should do is to execute mutual deed of conveyance. 

Therefore, the judgment appealed from is reversed. The plaintiffs are ordered to execute a deed of conveyance of lot No. 535-E in favor of the defendants, and the latter, in turn, are ordered to execute a similar document, covering lot No. 535-A, in favor of the plaintiffs. Costs against the latter.

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