by John Lloyd Macunat

CONSUELO LEGARDA v. N. M. SALEEBY, GR No. 8936, 1915-10-02

Facts:

the plaintiffs and the defendant occupy, as owners, adjoining lots  in the district of Ermita in the city of Manila.

there exists... a stone wall between the said lots.   Said wall is located on the lot of the plaintiffs.

the plaintiffs... y of March, 1906, presented a petition  in the Court of Land Registration for the registration of their lot.

After a consideration of said petition the court,... decreed that the... title  of the  plaintiffs  should  be registered and issued to them the original certificate provided for under the torrens system.

Said registration  and certificate  included the wall.

Later the predecessor of the defendant presented a petition in the Court of Land Registration for the registration of  the  lot now occupied by him.

The description of  the  lot given in the petition of the defendant  also included said wall.

Several months later... iffs discovered  that  the  wall which had been  included  in the certificate granted to them had also been  included  in the certificate granted to the... defendant.

They immediately presented a petition... for an adjustment and correction of the error committed by including said wall in the registered  title of each  of  said parties.

The lower  court however,... without notice to... the defendant,... denied said petition... during the pendency of the petition for the registration of the defendant's land, they  failed to make any objection to the registration of said lot, including  the wall,  in the name of  the... defendant.

That  the land occupied by the wall  is registered in the name of each of the  owners of  the adjoining lots. The wall is not a joint wall.

Issues:

who is the owner of  the  wall and the land occupied by it?

Ruling:

For the difficulty involved  in  the present case the Act (No. 496) providing for the registration of titles  under  the torrens system affords us no remedy.  There is  no provision in said Act giving the parties  relief under conditions like... the present.  There  is nothing in the Act  which indicates  who  should be the owner  of land which  has been registered in the name of two different persons.

This, we think, is the rule, except as to rights which are noted in the certificate or which arise subsequently, and with certain other exceptions which need not be discussed at present.   A title once registered can  not be defeated, even by an adverse,... open,  and notorious possession.   Registered title under the torrens system can not be defeated by prescription  (section 46, Act No. 496).  The title, once registered, is notice to the world.  All  persons must take notice.  No one can... plead ignorance of the registration.

Section 38 of Act No.  496, provides that; "It (the decree of registration)  shall be conclusive upon  and  against all persons,  including the  Insular Government and  all the branches  thereof, whether mentioned by name... in  the application, notice,  or citation, or included in the general description  'To all whom it may concern.'

It will  be  noted, from said section, that the  "decree  of registration"  shall  not be opened, for any reason, in any court,  except for fraud,  and not even for fraud, after the lapse of one  year.

Article 1473  of the Civil  Code provides,... among other things, that when one piece of real property has  been sold  to  two different persons it  shall belong to the  person acquiring it, who first inscribes it in the registry.

Adopting the rule which we believe... to be  more in consonance with the purposes and the real intent of the torrens system,  we are of the  opinion and* so  decree that in case land has been registered under the Land Registration Act in the name of two different persons, the earlier in date... shall prevail.

the primary and fundamental purpose of the torrens system is to quiet title.   If the holder of a certificate cannot rest secure in his registered title then the purpose of the law is defeated.

We have decided, in case of double registration under the Land Registration Act, that the owner of the  earliest certificate is the owner of the land.  That is the rule between original parties.

We  are  inclined to the view, without deciding it, that the record under the torrens system must, by the very nature and purposes of that system, supersede  all ... other registries.

Once  land is registered and recorded under the torrens system,... that record alone can  be examined for the purpose of ascertaining the real status of the title to the land.

It would seem to be a just and equitable rule, when two persons have  acquired equal rights in the same  thing,  to hold that  the  one who acquired it  first and who has  complied with  all  the requirements  of the law... should  be protected.

Principles:

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