Civil Law, Mercantile Law

BONIFACIO BROS., INC., ET AL. vs. ENRIQUE MORA, ET AL. G.R. No. L-20853 May 29, 1967 Insurance

FACTS:

Enrique Mora, owner of Oldsmobile sedan model 1956, mortgaged the same to the H.S. Reyes, Inc., with the condition that the former would insure the automobile with the latter as beneficiary. The automobile was thereafter insured with the State Bonding & Insurance Co., Inc., and motor car insurance policy was issued to Enrique Mora.

During the effectivity of the insurance contract, the car met an accident.

Enrique Mora, without the knowledge and consent of the H.S. Reyes, Inc., authorized the Bonifacio Bros. Inc. to furnish the labor and materials, some of which were supplied by the Ayala Auto Parts Co. For the cost of labor and materials, Enrique Mora was billed at P2,102.73 through the H.H. Bayne Adjustment Co. The insurance company drew a check in the amount of P2,002.73, as proceeds of the insurance policy, payable to the order of Enrique Mora or H.S. Reyes,. Inc., and entrusted the check to the H.H. Bayne Adjustment Co. for disposition and delivery to the proper party.

In the meantime, the car was delivered to Enrique Mora without the consent of the H.S. Reyes, Inc., and without payment to the Bonifacio Bros. Inc. and the Ayala Auto Parts Co. of the cost of repairs and materials.

Upon the theory that the insurance proceeds should be paid directly to them, the Bonifacio Bros. Inc. and the Ayala Auto Parts Co. filed a complaint against Enrique Mora and the State Bonding & Insurance Co., Inc. for the collection of the sum of P2,002.73.

Enrique Mora was declared in default for failure to appear at the hearing, and evidence against him was received ex parte. However, the counsel for the Bonifacio Bros. Inc., Ayala Auto Parts Co. and State Bonding & Insurance Co. Inc. submitted a stipulation of facts, on the basis of rendered decision declaring the H.S. Reyes, Inc. as having a better right to the disputed amount and ordering State Bonding & Insurance Co. Inc. to pay to the H. S. Reyes, Inc. the said sum of P2,002.73. The Bonifacio Bros. Inc. and the Ayala Auto Parts Co. moved for reconsideration which was denied. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE:

WON there is privity (mutual relationship to the same rights of property) of contract between the Bonifacio Bros. Inc. and the Ayala Auto Parts Co. on the one hand and the insurance company on the other.

 

RULING:

This argument is, in our view, beside the point, because from the undisputed facts and from the pleadings it will be seen that the appellants’ alleged cause of action rests exclusively upon the terms of the insurance contract.

The appellants seek to recover the insurance proceeds, and for this purpose, they rely upon paragraph 4 of the insurance contract document executed by and between the State Bonding & Insurance Company, Inc. and Enrique Mora.

The appellants are not mentioned in the contract as parties thereto nor is there any clause or provision thereof from which we can infer that there is an obligation on the part of the insurance company to pay the cost of repairs directly to them.

It is fundamental that contracts take effect only between the parties thereto, except in some specific instances provided by law where the contract contains some stipulation in favor of a third person. Such stipulation is known as stipulation pour autrui or a provision in favor of a third person not a party to the contract.

Under this doctrine, a third person is allowed to avail himself of a benefit granted to him by the terms of the contract, provided that the contracting parties have clearly and deliberately conferred a favor upon such person.

Consequently, a third person not a party to the contract has no action against the parties thereto, and cannot generally demand the enforcement of the same. The question of whether a third person has an enforcible interest in a contract, must be settled by determining whether the contracting parties intended to tender him such an interest by deliberately inserting terms in their agreement with the avowed purpose of conferring a favor upon such third person.

In this connection, this Court has laid down the rule that the fairest test to determine whether the interest of a third person in a contract is a stipulation pour autrui or merely an incidental interest, is to rely upon the intention of the parties as disclosed by their contract.

In the instant case the insurance contract does not contain any words or clauses to disclose an intent to give any benefit to any repairmen or materialmen in case of repair of the car in question. The parties to the insurance contract omitted such stipulation, which is a circumstance that supports the said conclusion. On the other hand, the “loss payable” clause of the insurance policy stipulates that “Loss, if any, is payable to H.S. Reyes, Inc.” indicating that it was only the H.S. Reyes, Inc. which they intended to benefit.

We likewise observe from the brief of the State Bonding & Insurance Company that it has vehemently opposed the assertion or pretension of the appellants that they are privy to the contract.

If it were the intention of the insurance company to make itself liable to the repair shop or materialmen, it could have easily inserted in the contract a stipulation to that effect. To hold now that the original parties to the insurance contract intended to confer upon the appellants the benefit claimed by them would require us to ignore the indespensable requisite that a stipulation pour autrui must be clearly expressed by the parties, which we cannot do.

As regards paragraph 4 of the insurance contract, a perusal thereof would show that instead of establishing privity between the appellants and the insurance company, such stipulation merely establishes the procedure that the insured has to follow in order to be entitled to indemnity for repair.

Another cogent reason for not recognizing a right of action by the appellants against the insurance company is that “a policy of insurance is a distinct and independent contract between the insured and insurer, and third persons have no right either in a court of equity, or in a court of law, to the proceeds of it, unless there be some contract of trust, expressed or implied between the insured and third person.”

In this case, no contract of trust, expressed or implied exists. We, therefore, agree with the trial court that no cause of action exists in favor of the appellants in so far as the proceeds of insurance are concerned. The appellants’ claim, if at all, is merely equitable in nature and must be made effective through Enrique Mora who entered into a contract with the Bonifacio Bros. Inc. This conclusion is deducible not only from the principle governing the operation and effect of insurance contracts in general, but is clearly covered by the express provisions of section 50 of the Insurance Act which read: “The insurance shall be applied exclusively to the proper interests of the person in whose name it is made unless otherwise specified in the policy. “

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.