Wednesday, March 21, 2012

People’s Aircargo and Warehousing Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals [October 7, 1998]

Facts: Petitioner is a domestic corporation organized in 1986 to operate a customs bonded warehouse at the old Manila International Airport (MIA). To obtain a license from the Bureau of Customs, Antonio Punsalan, Jr., the corporation president, solicited a proposal from private respondent Stefani Sano for the preparation of a feasibility study. Sano submitted a letter proposal dated October 17, 1986 (First Contract) to Punsalan regarding his request for professional engineering consultancy services which services are offered in the amount of P350,000.00. Initially, Cheng Yang, the majority stockholder of petitioner, objected to said offer as another company can provide for the same service at a lower price. However, Punsalan preferred Sano’s services because of latter’s membership in the task force, which task force was supervising the transition of the Bureau from the Marcos to the Aquino government. Petitioner, through Punsalan, thereafter confirmed the contract. 

On December 4, 1986, upon Punsalan’s request, private respondent sent petitioner another letter-proposal (Second Contract) which offers the same service already at P400,000.00 instead of the previous P350,000.00 offer. On January 10, 1987, Andy Villaceren, vice-president of petitioner, received the operations manual prepared by Sano and which manual operations was submitted by petitioner to the Bureau in compliance for its application to operate a bonded warehouse. Thereafter, in May 1987, the Bureau issued to it a license to operate. Private respondent also conducted in the third week of January 1987 in the warehouse of petitioner, a three-day training seminar for the petitioner’s employees. 

On February 9, 1988, private respondent filed a collection suit against petitioner. He alleged that he had prepared an operations manual for petitioner, conducted a seminar-workshop for its employees and delivered to it a computer program but that despite demand, petitioner refused to pay him for his services. Petitioner, on its part, denied that Sano had prepared such manual operations and at the same time alleged that the letter-agreement was signed by Punsalan without authority and as such unenforceable. It alleges that the disputed contract was not authorized by its board of directors. 

Issue: Whether or not the Second Contract signed by Punsalan is enforceable and binding against petitioner. 

Held: Yes, the Second Contract is binding and enforceable. The general rule is that, in the absence of authority from the board of directors, no person, not even its officers, can validly bind a corporation. A corporation is a juridical person, separate and distinct from its stockholders and members having xxx powers, attributes and properties expressly authorized by law or incident to its existence. Being a juridical entity, a corporation may act through its board of directors, which exercises almost all corporate powers, lays down all corporate business policies and is responsible for the efficiency of management, as provided in Section 23 of the Corporation Code. 

However, it is familiar doctrine that if a corporation knowingly permits one of its officers, or any other agent, to act within the scope of an apparent authority, it holds him out to the public as possessing the power to do those acts and thus, the corporation witll, as against anyone who has in good faith dealt with it through such agent, be estopped from denying the agent’s authority. Thus private respondent shall not be faulted for believing that Punsalan’s conformity to the contract in dispute was also binding on petitioner. In the case at bar, petitioner, through its president Antonio Punsalan Jr., entered into the First Contract without first securing board approval. Despite such lack of board approval, petitioner did not object to or repudiate said contract, thus "clothing" its president with the power to bind the corporation. The grant of apparent authority to Punsalan is evident in the testimony of Yong — senior vice president, treasurer and major stockholder of petitioner. Furthermore, private respondent prepared an operations manual and conducted a seminar for the employees of petitioner in accordance with their contract. Petitioner accepted the operations manual, submitted it to the Bureau of Customs and allowed the seminar for its employees. As a result of its aforementioned actions, petitioner was given by the Bureau of Customs a license to operate a bonded warehouse. Granting arguendo then that the Second Contract was outside the usual powers of the president, petitioner's ratification of said contract and acceptance of benefits have made it binding, nonetheless. The enforceability of contracts under Article 1403(2) is ratified "by the acceptance of benefits under them" under Article 1405.

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1 comments: on "People’s Aircargo and Warehousing Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals [October 7, 1998]"

Keith Allen said...

Warehousing Philippines must really be done with peoper documentation to avoid conflicts.

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