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58 St. Aviation Services Co. v.

Grand International Airways


GR. No. 140288 (2006)
J. Sandoval-Gutierrez / Tita K

Subject Matter: Rule 38; foreign judgment enforced in the Philippines


Case Summary:
Petitioner, a foreign corporation based in Singapore, undertook the repair and maintenance of respondent’s aircrafts. However,
respondent failed to pay despite petitioner’s repeated demands. Petitioner then filed a complaint for collection of money before the
High Court of Singapore. High Court issued Writ Summons to be served extra-territorially upon respondent. The Singapore court
sought the assistance of the sheriff of Pasay City but respondent failed to answer despite receipt of the summons. Singapore Court
rendered a judgment by default in favor of the petitioner. Petitioner filed a Petition for Enforcement of Judgment with the RTC
Pasay. Respondent filed a MTD which the RTC denied. CA, however, set aside the RTC order deying the MTD and held the service of
summons should be personal or substituted, not extraterritorial, in order to confer jurisdiction on the court because the action
before the Singapore High Court was a personal action.

WON the judgment by default in enforceable in the Philippines. SC ruled in the affirmative.

Under the Sec. 48, RULE 39 ROC, a foreign judgment against a person is merely presumptive evidence of a right as between the
parties. It may be repelled, among others, by want of jurisdiction of the issuing authority or by want of notice to the party against
whom it is enforced. The party attacking a foreign judgment has the burden of overcoming the presumption of its validity. In this
case, the laws of Singapore require that summons be served outside Singapore in accordance with modes of service in the country
where summons shall be served. The ROC of the Philippines allows service of summons personally or by substituted service. Service
in this case was made to the respondent in its office and received by the Secretary of the General Manager. However, respondent
completely ignored the summons, hence it was declared in default. Considering that the Writ of Summons was served upon
respondent in accordance with our Rules, jurisdiction was acquired by the Singapore High Court over its person. Clearly, the
judgment of default rendered by that court against respondent is valid.
Doctrine/s:
In the absence of a special contract, no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of
another country; however, under the rules of comity, utility and convenience, nations have established a usage among civilized
states by which final judgments of foreign courts of competent jurisdiction are reciprocally respected and rendered efficacious under
certain conditions that may vary in different countries.

A foreign judgment or order against a person is merely presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties. It may be repelled,
among others, by want of jurisdiction of the issuing authority or by want of notice to the party against whom it is enforced. The
party attacking a foreign judgment has the burden of overcoming the presumption of its validity.

Action Before SC: “This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court”
Parties:
Petitioner ST. AVIATION SERVICES CO., PTE., LTD

Respondent GRAND INTERNATIONAL AIRWAYS, INC.

Antecedent Facts:
1. Petitioner is a foreign corporation based in Singapore, engaged in repair and maintenance of airplanes and aircrafts.
2. Respondent is a domestic corporation engaged in airline operations.
3. They had an agreement wherein the petitioner agreed to undertake the maintenance and modification works on
respondent’s aircrafts.
4. They also agreed that the construction, validity and performance of such undertaking shall be governed by the laws of
Singapore, and that any suit arising from the contract shall be submitted to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the Singapore
Courts.
5. Petitioner undertook the contracted works and promptly delivered the aircrafts to the respondent.
6. However, respondent failed to pay despite repeated demands.
High Court of Singapore
1. Petitioner filed complaint for collection of sum of money before the High Court of Singapore.
2. Upon petitioner’s motion, the court issued a Writ Summons to be served extra-territorially upon respondent.
3. The Singapore court sought the assistance of the sheriff of Pasay City but respondent failed to answer despite receipt of the
summons.
4. On petitioner’s motion, the Singapore court rendered a judgment by default in favor of the petitioner.
RTC
1. Petitioner filed a Petition for Enforcement of Judgment with the RTC Pasay.
2. Respondent filed a MTD alleging that (1) the Singapore court did not acquire jurisdiction over its person and (2) the foreign
judgment is void for having been rendered in violation of its right to due process.
3. RTC dismissed the MTD holding that the 2 grounds for MTD cited are not provided under Rule 16, ROC.
4. MR was also denied.
CA
1. Respondent filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA.
2. CA granted the petition and set aside the orders of RTC without prejudice to the re-filing of the case. CA held that since the
action before the Singapore High Court was a personal action, service of summons should be personal or substituted, not
extraterritorial, in order to confer jurisdiction on the court.
3. MR was denied.

Issues:
1. WON the judgment by default in enforceable in the Philippines. (YES)
Ratio:
Yes – the judgment by default is enforceable in the Philippines.
 In the absence of a special contract, no sovereign is bound to give effect, within its dominion, to a judgment rendered by
a tribunal of another country.
 However, under the rules of comity, utility and convenience, nations have established a usage among civilized states by
which final judgments of foreign courts of competent jurisdiction are reciprocally respected and rendered efficacious
under certain conditions that may vary in different countries.
 The conditions for the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in our legal system are contained in Section
481, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended:
“SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments.—The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having
jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:
(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title to the
thing; and
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as
between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title;
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the
party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.”

 Under the said rule, a foreign judgment against a person is merely presumptive evidence of a right as between the
parties. It may be repelled, among others, by want of jurisdiction of the issuing authority or by want of notice to the
party against whom it is enforced.
 The party attacking a foreign judgment has the burden of overcoming the presumption of its validity.

WON the Singapore High Court acquired jurisdiction over the person of the respondent. (YES)
o The international law of the forum is the law of Singapore.
o The Singapore High Court ordered the service of the Writ of Summons on the Defendant by a method of service
authorized by the law of the Philippines. Said service of summons outside Singapore is in accordance with Order
11, r. 4(2)2 of the Rules of Court 19966 of Singapore.
o According to Philippine Rules of Court, jurisdiction over a party is acquired by service of summons by the sheriff,
his deputy or other proper court officer either personally by handing a copy thereof to the defendant or by
substituted service.

1
2(2) Where in accordance with these Rules, an originating process is to be served on a defendant in any country with respect to which there does not subsist a Civil
Procedure Convention providing for service in that country of process of the High Court, the originating process may be served—
a) through the government of that country, where that government is willing to effect service; 

b) through a Singapore Consular authority in that country, except where service through such an authority is contrary to the law of the country; or 

c) by a method of service authorized by the law of that country for service of any originating process issued by that country. 

o In this case, the writ of summons issued by the Singapore High Court was served upon respondents at its office
located at Mercure Hotel (formerly Village Hotel), MIA Road, Pasay City. The Sheriff’s Return shows that it was
received on May 2, 1998 by Joyce T. Austria, Secretary of the General Manager of respondent company.
o Therefore, the Writ of Summons was served upon respondent in accordance with our Rules. Hence, jurisdiction
was acquired by the Singapore High Court over its person.

o However, respondent completely ignored the summons, hence it was declared in default.
o Considering that the Writ of Summons was served upon respondent in accordance with our Rules, jurisdiction was
acquired by the Singapore High Court over its person. Clearly, the judgment of default rendered by that court
against respondent is valid.
Dispositive: Wherefore, we GRANT the petition. The challenged Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
51134 are SET ASIDE. The RTC, Branch 117, Pasay City is hereby DIRECTED to hear Civil Case No. 98-1389 with dispatch.