Rubias vs Batiller (1973) Facts: Francisco Militante claimed that he owned a parcel of land located in Iloilo.

He filed with the CFI of Iloilo an application for the registration of title of the land. This was opposed by the Director of Lands, the Director of Forestry, and other oppositors. The case was docked as a land case, and after trial the court dismissed the application for registration. Militante appealed to the Court of Appeals. Pending that appeal, he sold to Rubias (his son-in-law and a lawyer) the land. The CA rendered a decision, dismissing the application for registration. Rubias filed a Forcible Entry and Detainer case against Batiller. In that case, the court held that Rubias has no cause of action because the property in dispute which Rubias allegedly bought from Militante was the subject matter of a land case, in which case Rubias was the counsel on record of Militante himself. It thus falls under Article 1491 of the Civil Code. (Hence, this appeal.) Issue: Whether the sale of the land is prohibited under Article 1491. Held: YES. Article 1491 says that “The following persons cannot acquire any purchase, even at a public or judicial auction, either in person or through the mediation of another…. (5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior courts, and other officers and employees connected with the administration of justice, the property and rights in litigation or levied upon an execution before the court within whose jurisdiction or territory they exercise their respective functions; this prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment and shall apply to lawyesr, with respect to the property and rights which may be the object of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession.” The present case clearly falls under this, especially since the case was still pending appeal when the sale was made. Issue: Legal effect of a sale falling under Article 1491? Held: NULL AND VOID.CANNOT BE RATIFIED. Manresa considered such prohibited acquisitions (which fell under the Spanish Civil Code) as merely voidable because the Spanish Code did not recognize nullity. But our Civil Code does recognize the absolute nullity of contracts “whose cause, object or purpose is contract to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy” or which are “expressly prohibited or declared void by law” and declares such contracts “inexistent and void from the beginning.” The nullity of such prohibited contracts is definite and permanent, and cannot be cured by ratification. The public interest and public policy remain paramount and do not permit of compromise or ratification. In this aspect, the permanent disqualification of public and judicial officers and lawyers grounded on public policy differs from the first

three cases of guardians agents and administrators (under Art 1491). As to their transactions, it has been opined that they may be “ratified” by means of and in “the form of a new contract, in which case its validity shall be determined only by the circumstances at the time of execution of such new contract.” In those cases, the object which was illegal at the time of the first contract may have already become lawful at the time of the ratification or second contract, or the intent, or the service which was impossible. The ratification or second contract would then be valid from its execution; however, it does not retroact to the date of the first contract. Decision affirmed.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful