Civil Law

BANK OF AMERICA vs. AMERICAN REALTY CORP. & CA G.R. No. 133876 December 29, 1999 Doctrine of Processual Presumption


Petitioner Bank of America NT & SA (BANTSA) is an international banking and financing institution duly licensed to do business in the Philippines, organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of California, USA, while private respondent American Realty Corporation (ARC) is a domestic corporation.

Bank of America International Limited (BAIL), on the other hand, is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of England.

BANTSA and BAIL on several occasions granted three major multi-million United States (US) Dollar loans to the following corporate borrowers: (1) Liberian Transport Navigation, S.A.; (2) El Challenger S.A. and (3) Eshley Compania Naviera S.A. (hereinafter collectively referred to as borrowers), all of which are existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Republic of Panama and are foreign affiliates of private respondent.

Due to the default in the payment of the loan amortizations, BANTSA and the corporate borrowers signed and entered into restructuring agreements. As additional security for the restructured loans, private respondent ARC as third party mortgagor executed two real estate mortgages,  over its parcels of land including improvements thereon, located in Bulacan.

Eventually, the corporate borrowers defaulted in the payment of the restructured loans prompting petitioner BANTSA to file civil actions before foreign courts for the collection of the principal loan.

In the civil suits instituted before the foreign courts, private respondent ARC, being a third party mortgagor, was not impleaded as party-defendant.

Private respondent filed before the Pasig RTC an action for damages against the petitioner, for the latter’s act of foreclosing extrajudicially the real estate mortgages despite the pendency of civil suits before foreign courts for the collection of the principal loan.



What is the Doctrine of Processual Presumption?



In a long line of decisions, this Court adopted the well-imbedded principle in our jurisdiction that there is no judicial notice of any foreign law. A foreign law must be properly pleaded and proved as a fact. Thus, if the foreign law involved is not properly pleaded and proved, our courts will presume that the foreign law is the same as our local or domestic or internal law. This is what we refer to as the doctrine of processual presumption.

In the instant case, assuming arguendo that the English Law on the matter were properly pleaded and proved in accordance with Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court and the jurisprudence laid down in Yao Kee, et al. vs. Sy-Gonzales, said foreign law would still not find applicability.

Thus, when the foreign law, judgment or contract is contrary to a sound and established public policy of the forum, the said foreign law, judgment or order shall not be applied.

Additionally, prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.

he public policy sought to be protected in the instant case is the principle imbedded in our jurisdiction proscribing the splitting up of a single cause of action.

Section 4, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is pertinent –

If two or more suits are instituted on the basis of the same cause of action, the filing of one or a judgment upon the merits in any one is available as a ground for the dismissal of the others.

Moreover, foreign law should not be applied when its application would work undeniable injustice to the citizens or residents of the forum. To give justice is the most important function of law; hence, a law, or judgment or contract that is obviously unjust negates the fundamental principles of Conflict of Laws.

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