Mercantile Law

UBAS v. CHAN G.R. No. 215910, February 06, 2017 J. PERLAS-BERNABE Complete but Undelivered Negotiable Instrument

FACTS:

Petitioner filed a Complaint against respondent, alleging that respondent, “doing business under the name and style of UNIMASTER,” was indebted to him in the amount of P1,500,000.00, representing the price of construction materials allegedly purchased by respondent from him for the construction of the Macagtas Dam project.

He averred that respondent had issued three checks, payable to “CASH”, but when petitioner presented the subject checks for encashment, the same were dishonored due to a stop payment order. Petitioner demanded from respondent the value of the dishonored checks, but to no avail.

For his part, respondent admitted to having issued the subject checks. However, he claimed that they were not issued to petitioner, but to the project engineer, who, however, lost the same.

The RTC ruled in favor of petitioner and ordered respondent to pay petitioner the amount of P1,500,000.00 representing the principal obligation plus legal interests.

On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC’s ruling, dismissing petitioner’s complaint.

Hence, the instant petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the CA erred in dismissing petitioner’s complaint for lack of cause of action.

RULING:

The petition is meritorious.

Jurisprudence holds that “in a suit for a recovery of sum of money, as here, the plaintiff-creditor [(petitioner in this case)] has the burden of proof to show that defendant [(respondent in this case)] had not paid [him] the amount of the contracted loan. However, it has also been long established that where the plaintiff-creditor possesses and submits in evidence an instrument showing the indebtedness, a presumption that the credit has not been satisfied arises in [his] favor.

This presumption stems from Section 24 of the NIL, which provides that:

Section 24. Presumption of Consideration. – Every negotiable instrument is deemed prima facie to have been issued for a valuable consideration; and every person whose signature appears thereon to have become a party thereto for value.

As mentioned, petitioner had presented in evidence the three dishonored checks which were undeniably signed by respondent.

Besides, Section 16 of the NIL provides that when an instrument is no longer in the possession of the person who signed it and it is complete in its terms, “a valid and intentional delivery by him is presumed until the contrary is proved,” as in this case.

Although the checks were under the account name of Unimasters, it should be emphasized that the manner or mode of payment does not alter the nature of the obligation.

Respondent was not able to overcome the presumption of consideration under Section 24 of the NIL and establish any of his affirmative defenses. On the other hand, as the holder of the subject checks which are presumed to have been issued for a valuable consideration, and having established his privity of contract with respondent, petitioner has substantiated his cause of action by a preponderance of evidence. ” Consequently, petitioner’s Complaint should be granted.

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