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8/25/2016

G.R.No.L5447

TodayisThursday,August25,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
ENBANC
G.R.No.L5447March1,1910
PAULREISS,ETAL.,plaintiffsappellees,
vs.
JOSEM.MEMIJE,defendantappellant.
JoseValerayCalderon,forappellant.
Gibbs&Gale,forappellees.
CARSON,J.:
DefendantappellantenteredintoacontractwithoneBuenaventuraKabalsafortherepairofahouseinthecityof
Manila.Thecontractorundertooktofurnishthenecessarymaterials,includingaconsiderableamountoflumber,
tobeusedintherepairs.Thecontractorbeingamanofnocommercialstandinginthecommunitywasunableto
securecredittherefor,andwascompelledtopaycashforallpurchases.Havingnomoneyandnocredithewas
unable to continue the purchase of the necessary lumber, plaintiffs, with whom he was dealing, absolutely
refusing to allow any lumber to leave their yard without payment in advance. The work on the house being
delayedforthelackofthenecessarymaterials,defendantaccompaniedthecontractortoplaintiffs'lumberyard,
andaftersatisfyingplaintiffsastohisownfinancialresponsibility,andthatasapropertyownerandanattorneyin
activepracticeinthecityofManila,hewasgoodfortheamountoflumberneededintherepairofhishouse,he
enteredintoanagreementwiththemwherebytheyweretodeliverthenecessarylumbertothecontractorforuse
intherepairofhishouse.
In pursuance of and in accordance with the directions of the defendant, plaintiffs delivered to Kabalsa a
considerable amount of lumber which was used in the repairs upon defendant's house, and judgment in this
actionwasrenderedinfavoroftheplaintiffsfortheprovenamountoftheunpaidbalanceofthepurchasepriceof
thislumber.
Appellantmakesvariousassignmentsoferror,andcontends:First,thatthetrialcourterredindecliningtoallow
anamendmenttodefendant'sanswerforthepurposeofformallydenyingplaintiff'sallegationsastodefendant's
guarantyofpaymentofthepurchasepriceofthelumbersecond,thatthetrialcourterredinfailingtosetoutinits
decisionthefindingoffactsuponwhichthejudgmentreststhird,thattheevidenceofrecorddoesnotsustaina
findingthatthedefendantdidinfactassumeresponsibilityforthepaymentofthepurchasepriceofthelumber
deliveredtohiscontractorandforth,thatevenifitbeheldthathedidso,thensincetheallegedpromise,asset
upbyplaintiffsintheirevidence,merelyguaranteedpaymentforthelumberandwasnotinwriting,proofthereof
wasnotadmissibleinevidence,anddefendantwasnotboundthereby,undertheprovisionsofsection335ofthe
CodeofCivilProcedure.
Theallegederrorsofproceduresmaybedismissedwithoutmuchdiscussion.Wethinkareadingofthejudgment
itself clearly discloses that the trial judge did in fact make the necessary findings of fact, and that he expressly
heldthat,admittingalltheevidenceofferedbybothparties,theevidenceofrecordestablishestheexistenceof
defendant'spromisetopayforthelumber,anddisclosestheexistenceofabalancedueonaccountofthelumber
deliveredtodefendant'scontractor.Withoutconsideringwhether,underthepleadings,thedefendant'sevidence
should have been stricken out of the record and his motion to amend his answer denied, as appears to have
been the opinion of the trial court, we agree with the trial court that even if the evidence be admitted and the
complaintamended,theweightofalltheevidence,includingtheevidence,thusadmitted,supportstheplaintiffs'
allegationtouchingdefendants'promisetopayforthelumberinquestion,andestablisheshiscontentionthatthis
lumberwasinfactdeliveredtothedefendant'scontractor,andbyhimusedintheconstructionofthehouseunder
thedirectionofthedefendant,andthattheamountforwhichthejudgmentwasgiveninthecourtbelowwasthe
amount of the unpaid purchase price of the lumber thus delivered. If, therefore, it was error of the trial court to
rule that defendant's evidence should be stricken from the record and that defendant's answer should not be
amendedinaccordancewithamotionforthatpurposemadethreeweeksafterjudgmentwasrendered,itwasat
mosterrorwithoutprejudice.
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The only question that remains is defendant's contention that his alleged guaranty of payment of the purchase
price of the lumber furnished at his request to his contractor Kabalsa not being in writing, it is unenforceable in
thisaction.
Section335ofActNo.190isasfollows:
Inthefollowingcasesanagreementhereaftermadeshallbeunenforceablebyactionunlessthesame,or
some note or memorandum thereof, by in writing, and subscribed by the party charged, or by his agent
evidence,therefore,oftheagreementcannotbereceivedwithoutthewriting,orsecondaryevidenceofits
contents:
xxxxxxxxx
2Aspecialpromisetoanswerforthedebt,default,ormiscarriageofanother
xxxxxxxxx
An immense amount of litigation has arisen in England and the United States over the construction of similar
provisionswhicharefoundinmost,ifnotall,ofthesocalledstatutesoffraudwhichhavebeenenactedinthose
jurisdictions,andmanycourtsandtextwriterhaveacknowledgedtheirinabilitytofindanythinglikeuniformrules
ofconstructionintheconflictingdecisionswhichhavebeenrendered,applyingthestatutetotheinfinitevarietyof
facts which have presented themselves so that it has been said by some that the law upon the subject is in a
stateofhopelessconfusion.
The true test as to whether a promise is within the statute had been said to lie in the answer to the question
whetherthepromiseisanoriginaloracollateralone.Ifthepromiseisanoriginaloranindependentonethatis,if
thepromisorbecomestherebyprimarilyliableforthepaymentofthedebt,thepromiseisnotwithinthestatute.
But,ontheotherhand,ifthepromiseiscollateraltotheagreementofanotherandthepromisorbecomesthereby
merelyasurety,thepromisemustbeinwriting.(Gullvs.Lindsay,4Exch.45andothercasescitedundernote2,
p.906,EncyclopediaofLaw,vol.29.)
Justwhatisthecharacterofapromiseasoriginalorcollateralisaquestionoflawandfactwhichmustin
each case be determined from the evidence as to the language used in making the promise, and the
circumstances under which the promise was made and, since as a general rule the parties making a
promise of this nature rarely understand the legal and technical difference between an original and a
collateralpromise,thepreciseformofwordsused,evenwhenestablishedbyundisputedtestimonyisnot
alwaysconclusive.Sothatitissaidthat"While,asamatteroflaw,apromise,absoluteinform,topayorto
be 'responsible' or to be the 'paymaster,' is an original promise, and while, on the other hand, if the
promisor says, 'I will see you paid,' or 'I will pay if he does not,' or uses equivalent words, the promise
standingaloneiscollateral,yetunderallthecircumstancesofthecase,anabsolutepromisetopay,ora
promisetobe'responsible,'maybefoundtobecollateral,orpromisesdeemedprimafaciecollateralmay
beadjudgedoriginal."(EncyclopediaofLaw,2ded.,vol.29,p.907,andmanycasestherecited.)
Ifgoodsaresolduponthesolecreditandresponsibilityofthepartywhomakethepromise,then,eventhough
theybedeliveredtoathirdperson,thereisnoliabilityofthethirdpersontowhichthatofthepartypromisingcan
be collateral, and consequently such a promise to pay does not require a memorandum in writing and on the
same principle it has been held that when one advances money at the request of another (on his promise to
repayit)topaythedebtofathirdparty,asthepaymentcreatesnodebtagainstsuchthirdparty,notbeingmade
at all upon his credit, the liability of the party on whose request and promise it was made is original and not
collateral,andnotwiththeStatuteofFrauds.(Pearsevs.Blagrave,3Com.Law,338Prop'rs.ofUpperLocksvs.
Abbott,14N.H.,157.)Butithasbeensaidthatifthepersonforwhosebenefitthepromiseismadewashimself
liable at all, the promise of the defendant must be in writing. (Matson vs. Wharam, 2 T. R., 80.) And the text
writers point out that if this rule be understood as confined to cases where a third party and the defendant are
liableinthesameway,andtodothesamething,oneasprincipalandtheotherassurety,itmaybeacceptedas
theuniformdoctrineofallthecasesbothinEnglandandintheUnitedStates.(BrowseontheStatuteofFrauds,
par.197,andcasestherecited.)Insuchcases,thedefendantissaidtocomeinaidtoprocurethecredittobe
giventotheprincipaldebtor,andthequestion,therefore,ultimateis"uponwhosecreditthegoodsweresoldor
the money advanced, or whatever other thing done which the defendant by his promise procured to be done"
andwherethedefendantstandsintherelationtothethirdpartyofsuretytoprincipal"ifanycreditatallbegiven
to the third party, the defendant's promise is required to be in writing as collateral." (Browne on the Statute of
Frauds, p. 227, and notes 2 and 4.) But it must be clearly recognized that these principles are applicable only
wherethepartiesareliableinthesamewaytodothesamething,oneasprincipalandtheotherassurety,forif
the credit is given to both jointly, since neither can be said to be surety for the other to the creditor, their
engagementneednotbeinwriting.
Ashasbeensaidbefore,itisfrequentlyamatterofdifficultytodeterminetowhomthecredithasactuallybeen
given,whethertothedefendantalone,inwhichcasethedebtishisownandhispromiseisgoodwithoutwriting
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orinparttothethirdparty,inwhichcasethedefendant'spromisebeingcollateraltoandinaidofthethirdparty's
liability,requiresawritingtosupportit,ortobothjointly,inwhichcaseashasbeensaidtheirengagementneed
notbeinwriting.Thismustbedeterminedfromthelanguageandexpressionsusedbythepartiespromising,and
from an examination of the circumstance showing the understanding of the parties. The unexplained fact that
charges were made against a third party on the plaintiffs' books, or that the bill was presented to the original
debtorinthefirstinstance,unqualifiedbyspecialcircumstances,tendstoprovethatthecreditwasgiveninwhole
orinparttohim,andthatthedefendant'spromiseisacollateralone.(Larsonvs.Wyman,14Wend.(N.Y.),246
Pennellvs.Pentz,4E.D.Smith(N.Y.),639.)Butitisevidentlyquiteimpossibletospecifyanyonefactorsetof
factsonwhichthequestionastowhomtheplaintiffgavecreditistobedetermined.InthelanguageofBuchanan,
C.J., in Elder vs. Warfield (7 Harris & (Md.), 397), "the extent of the understaking, the express in used, the
situationoftheparties,andallthecircumstancesofthecaseshouldbetakenintoconsideration."
Applicationoftheseprincipleshasbeenmadeinmanycaseswhereownersofbuildingsgoingupundercontract
enterintoagreementsuponthefaithofwhichsubcontractorsorotherhavecontinuedtosupplylaborormaterial
aftertheprinciplecontractorhasbecomeeitheractuallyorprobablyunabletopay.Inthesecases,thequestionis
whethertheservicesforwhichtheactionisbroughtagainsttheownerofthebuildingwereperformedsolelyupon
thecreditofhispromise,tobehimselfresponsibleandtopayforthematerialsandlaborfurnished,orwhether
thesubcontractorsandlaborerscontinuedtofurnishlaborandmaterialstotheprincipalcontractorrelyingupon
hisobligationguaranteedbythepromiseoftheowner.(Gillvs.Herrick,11Mass.,501Walkervs.Hill,119Mass.,
249Cliffordvs.Luhring,69Ill.,401Rawsonvs.Springsteen,2Thomp.&C.(N.Y.),416Belknapvs.Bender,6
Thomp.&C.(N.Y.),611JeffersonCountyvs.Slagle,66Pa.St.,202.SeeEshlemanvs.Harnish,76Pa.St.,97
Harveyvs.Mercur,78Pa.St.,257Weylandvs.Critchfield,3Grant(Pa.),113Lakemanvs.Mountstephen,L.R.
7H.L.,17.)
Takingintoconsiderationallthecircumstancesofthecaseatbar,wearesatisfiedthatthecreditforthelumber
delivered by the plaintiffs to defendant's contractor was extended solely and exclusively to the defendant under
theverbalagreementhadwithhim,andtherefore,thattheprovisionsofthestatuedidnotrequirethatitshould
bemadeinwriting.Defendantadmittedonthestandthathiscontractorhadnocommercialcreditorstandingin
the community, and it appears that plaintiffs, after investigation, absolutely refused to extent him any credit
whatever upon any conditions and that the defendant was well aware of that fact. From the testimony of the
contractorhimself,itseemsclearthatwhentheagreementforthedeliveryoflumberwasmade,thecreditwas
extended not to the contractor but to the defendant. It appears that both plaintiffs and defendant exercised
especial precautions to see that all the lumber was delivered on defendant's lot, and that before each bill of
lumberwasdelivered,defendantcarefullyexaminedtheinvoice,whichtheagreementwassubmittedtohim,and
that no lumber was delivered without his approval. The precise language in which the verbal agreement was
madedoesnotappearfromtheevidence,andwhileitistruethatoneoftheplaintiffsinhisdisposition,madein
theUnitedStates,referstotheagreementasonewherebydefendant"guaranteed"paymentforthelumber,we
aresatisfiedfromalltheevidencethatthewordwasnotusedbythiswitnessinitstechnicalsense,andthathe
didnotmeantherebytosaythatdefendantguaranteedpaymentbythecontractor,butratherthataftersatisfying
plaintiffsastohisownfinancialresponsibility,heobligatedhimselftopayforthelumberdeliveredtohiscontractor
for use in his house. The only evidence in the whole record which tends to put our conclusion in this regard in
doubt,isthetestimonyofplaintiffs'actingmanagerduringplaintiffs'absenceintheUnitedStateswhostatedthat
he sent a statement of account and a bill for the lumber to the contractor but this fact, which under ordinary
circumstances would be strong evidence that the credit was originally extended to the contractor and merely
guaranteedbythedefendant,wassatisfactorilyandsufficientlyexplainedbyproofthatplaintiffswerecompelled
to leave for the United States quite unexpectedly, with no opportunity to go over the accounts with their acting
manager,whowasleftincharge,sothatthelatterhavingnoknowledgewhateverastoplaintiffs'agreementwith
defendant,andlearningthatthelumberhadbeendeliveredtothecontractor,supposedthatithadbeensoldto
him, and only discovered his mistake on later investigation and correspondence with his principals, after the
contractorhadnotifiedhimastothetruenatureofthetransaction.
Thejudgmentappealedfromshouldbeaffirmedwiththecostsofthisinstanceagainsttheappellant.Soordered.
Arellano,C.J.,Torres,Mapa,JohnsonandMoreland,JJ.,concur.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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