TRIAL NOTE 0011:  THE AWARD OF ATTORNEY’S FEES IS THE EXCEPTION RATHER THAN THE RULE. YOU MUST SHOW PROOF.

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SOURCE: FEB LEASING AND FINANCE CORPORATION (NOW BPI LEASING CORPORATION) VS. SPOUSES SERGIO P. BAYLON AND MARITESS VILLENA-BAYLON, BG HAULER, INC., AND MANUEL Y. ESTILLOSO (G.R. NO. 181398, 29 JUNE 2011, CARPIO, J.) SUBJECTS: LIABILITY OF A REGISTERED OWNER OF VEHICLE; ATTORNEY’S FEES. (BRIEF TITLE: FEB FINANCE VS. SPOUSES BAYLON)

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PRIOR TO TRIAL BE SURE YOU HAVE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT WITH YOUR CLIENT ON ATTORNEY’S FEES AND RELATED EXPENSES AND FEES. MAKE AND/OR KEEP ALL PERTINENT RECEIPTS. DURING TRIAL PRESENT THESE DOCUMENTS AS PROOF IN SUPPORT OF ATTORNEY’S FEES. THE REASON IS THIS:

The award of attorney’s fees must have some factual, legal and equitable bases and cannot be left to speculations and conjectures.25 Consistent with prevailing jurisprudence,26 attorney’s fees as part of damages are awarded only in the instances enumerated in Article 2208 of the Civil Code.27 Thus, the award of attorney’s fees is the exception rather than the rule. Attorney’s fees are not awarded every time a party prevails in a suit because of the policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate.28

 

WHAT WILL YOU SPECIFICALLY PROVE DURING TRIAL?

  1. 1.               THAT THE ATTORNEY’S FEES ARE BASED ON FACTS AND NOT SPECULATIVE;

 

  1. 2.               THAT THEY ARE LEGAL;

 

  1. 3.               THAT THEYARE EQUITABLE.

 

HOW DO YOU PROVE THAT THEY ARE LEGAL?

THAT THEY ARE COVERED UNDER ART. 2208 OF THE CIVIL CODE BECAUSE ONLY IN INSTANCES COVERED UNDER SUCH PROVISION WILL ATTORNEYS FEES BE AWARDED.

 

WILL ATTORNEY’S FEES BE AWARDED EVERYTIME A PARTY WINS?

NO BECAUSE OF THE POLICY THAT NO PREMIUM SHOULD BE PLACED ON THE RIGHT TO LITIGATE

 

* Designated acting member per Special Order No. 1006 dated 10 June 2011.

1 Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

2Rollo, pp. 31-48. Penned by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., with Associate Justices Bienvenido L. Reyes and Aurora Santiago-Lagman, concurring.

3Id. at 50-52. Penned by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., with Associate Justices Bienvenido L. Reyes and Monina Arevalo Zenarosa, concurring.

4Id. at 53-65. Penned by Judge Dorentino Z. Floresta.

5 Records (Vol. I), p. 8.

6Now BPI Leasing Corporation; records (Vol. II), pp. 14-24.

7 Rollo, pp. 86-89.

8 Records (Vol. I), p. 33.

9Id. at 10.

10Id. at 1-7.

11 Rollo, pp. 64-65.

12Id. at 47.

13Rollo, p. 99. BG Hauler and the driver filed in this Court (Third Division) a separate petition for review, which the Court denied in its Resolution dated 9 April 2008. The subsequent motion for reconsideration was likewise denied with finality.

14AN ACT REGULATING THE ORGANIZATION AND OPERATION OF FINANCING COMPANIES. Approved on 4 August 1969.

15AN ACT AMENDING REPUBLIC ACT NO. 5980, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE FINANCING COMPANY ACT. Approved on 26 February 1998. Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8556 states:

 

SEC. 10. There is hereby inserted after Section 8 as renumbered, new Sections 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 to read as follows:

x x x

“SEC. 12. Liability of Lessors. ‒ Financing companies shall not be liable for loss, damage or injury caused by a motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, equipment or other property leased to a third person or entity except where the motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, equipment or other property is operated by the financing company, its employees or agents at the time of the loss, damage or injury.

x x x

16 G.R. No. 162267, 4 July 2008, 557 SCRA 141.

17 Rollo, p. 86 (back page); records (Vol. I), p. 123 (back page).

18Otherwise known as the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code.”

19Section 5 of RA 4136 reads:

SEC. 5. Compulsory registration of motor vehicles. ‒ (a) All motor vehicles and trailers of any type used or operated on or upon any highway of thePhilippines must be registered with the bureau of Land Transportation for the current year in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

x x x

(e) Encumbrances of motor vehicles.‒Mortgages, attachments, and other encumbrances of motor vehicles, in order to be valid against third parties must be recorded in the bureau. Voluntary transactions or voluntary encumbrances shall likewise be properly recorded on the face of all outstanding copies of the certificates of registration of the vehicle concerned.

Cancellation or foreclosure of such mortgages, attachments, and other encumbrances shall likewise be recorded, and in the absence of such cancellation, no certificate of registration shall be issued without the corresponding notation of mortgage, attachment and/or other encumbrances.

x x x

20Id.

21PCI Leasing and Finance, Inc. v. UCPB General Insurance Co., Inc., G.R. No. 162267, 4 July 2008, 557 SCRA 141; Equitable Leasing Corporation v. Suyom, 437 Phil. 244 (2002); First Malayan Leasing and Finance Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 91378, 9 June 1992, 209 SCRA 660.

22PCI Leasing and Finance, Inc. v. UCPB General Insurance Co., Inc., G.R. No. 162267, 4 July 2008, 557 SCRA 141, 154.

23 102 Phil. 103 (1957).

24Id. at 108-109.

25V.V. Soliven Realty Corp. v. Ong, 490 Phil. 229 (2005).

26Delos Santos v. Papa, G.R. No. 154427, 8 May 2009, 587 SCRA 385; Filipinas Broadcasting Network, Inc. v. Ago Medical & Educational Center – Bicol Christian College of Medicine, 489 Phil. 380 (2005); Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 146364, 3 June 2004, 430 SCRA 492.

27 Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, cannot be recovered, except:

(1) When exemplary damages are awarded;

(2) When the defendant’s act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest;

(3) In criminal cases of malicious prosecution against the plaintiff;

(4) In case of a clearly unfounded civil action or proceeding against the plaintiff;

(5) Where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy the plaintiff’s plainly valid, just and demandable claim;

(6) In actions for legal support;

(7) In actions for the recovery of wages of household helpers, laborers and skilled workers;

(8) In actions for indemnity under workmen’s compensation and employer’s liability laws;

(9) In a separate civil action to recover civil liability arising from a crime;

(10) When at least double judicial costs are awarded;

(11) In any other case where the court deems it just and equitable that attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation should be recovered.

In all cases, the attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation must be reasonable.

28Lapanday Agricultural and Development Corporation (LADECO) v. Angala, G.R. No. 153076, 21 June 2007, 525 SCRA 229.