Add TAGS to your cases to easily locate them or to build your SYLLABUS.
Please SIGN IN to use this feature.
Highlight text as FACTS, ISSUES, RULING, PRINCIPLES to generate case DIGESTS and REVIEWERS.
Please LOGIN use this feature.
Show printable version with highlights

[ GR No. 5333, Mar 25, 1911 ]



19 Phil. 202

[ G. R. No. 5333, March 25, 1911 ]




After a careful examination of the  evidence of record in this case we are satisfied that the material findings of fact by the trial court are fully sustained thereby, and that upon the facts as proven that court  properly  granted the relief afforded by the decree from which this appeal  was taken.

From the facts proven at the trial it appears that a number of Chinese merchants raised a fund by voluntary subscription with which they purchased a valuable tract of land and erected a large building to  be used as  a  sort of club house for the mutual benefit of the subscribers  to the fund.  The subscribers organized themselves into an irregular association, which had no regular articles of association, and was not incorporated or registered  in the  commercial registry or elsewhere.  The association  not having any existence as a legal entity, it was agreed to have the title to the property placed in the name of one of the members, the defendant,  Cho Jan Ling,  who on his part accepted the trust, and agreed to hold  the property as the agent of the members of the  association.  After the club building was completed with the funds of the members  of the association, Cho Jan Ling collected  sotfie ¥=25,000 in  rents  for which he failed and  refused to account, and upon proceedings being instituted to compel him to do  so, he set up title  in himself to the club property as well as to the rents accruing therefrom, falsely alleging that he had  bought the real  estate and constructed the building with his own funds, and denying the claims  of the  members of the association that it was their funds which had been used for that purpose.

The decree of the trial court provides for the conveyance of the club house and the land on which it stands from the defendant, Cho Jan Ling, in whose name it is registered, to the members of the  association, and further makes provision for an accounting by him for rents had and received,

Accepting the truth of the above-set-out summary of the facts proven at the trial, we think appellants' assignments of error are entitled to but  scant consideration, in so far as they are based on alleged abuses of discretion by the trial court in improvidently appointing a receiver pending these proceedings,  and in permitting amendments to the original complaint, chiefly for the purpose of bringing in the proper parties to this  action.   Even  if  it be  admitted  that the court erred in appointing a receiver  at the institution of these proceedings and in retaining him after he had  been appointed, this  alleged  error  in  no wise affected the real merits of the case; and in the light of the facts set out above it will hardly be contended that the appellants have suffered any  damage  for which  they  should  have redress, merely because, during the pendency  of this action and  without awaiting the final decree compelling them to disgorge, the court took under its own guardian care certain funds and property which they unjustly sought to retain,  although its retention by them involved a flagrant breach of trust on their  part.  So, too, even if we  were to admit, which we do not, that the  trial judge was too liberal in his allowance of amendments  to the  complaint filed in this proceeding, we are nevertheless unable to see that any real or substantial right of the appellants was prejudiced thereby.  Due, doubtless, to the inherent difficulties which must be anticipated in the conduct of a case wherein a large number of the parties are Chinese persons, unable to  speak  any tongue but their own, some formal or technical irregularities seem to have crept  into the proceedings in the court below and an unusually large number of amendments of the pleadings appear to have been necessary  for the proper development of the   facts and in order to bring: in all the parties interested, but none of these irregularities or amendments  in  any wise prejudiced the defense set up by the appellants in the court below,  and assignments of error based  thereon can not be sustained under section 503 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which  provides that "No judgment shall be reversed on  formal or technical grounds, or for such error as has not prejudiced the real rights of the excepting party."

Accepting, as we  do, the truth and accuracy of the facts found by the trial  court there can be no  shadow of doubt that the plaintiffs are entitled to the relief furnished them by the  decree.  The attempt on the part of the  appellants to escape the logical and  manifestly just consequences of the conclusions of facts set out in the opinion of the trial judge by pointing this court to the doctrine laid down in its  decisions in the  case of Martinez vs. Martinez (1 Phil. Rep., 647)  and the  case of Compania General de Tabacos vs. Topino (4 Phil. Rep. 33), can not and should not succeed. It is at most an attempt to substitute for the plain dictates of reason and  equity certain technical propositions of law laid down in those  cases which  have no proper application to the facts proven  in this case.   The Martinez case turned on the lack  of  proof of tne existence of the relationship of principal and agent or of trustee and cestui que trust between the parties,  in addition to proof that the funds with  which the property was purchased had been furnished by another than  him who secured its  registry  in  his own name.   In the case at bar we think that the evidence clearly discloses not only that the funds with which the property in question was  purchased were furnished by the members of the association, but that  Cho Jan Ling, in whose name  it was registered, received and holds the property as the  agent and trustee  of the association; that on at least one occasion  he admitted the beneficial ownership to be in the association; and that while the legal registered title is in his name the beneficial  ownership is  in  the  association.  Nor has the doctrine laid down  in the  Topifio case any direct bearing upon  the facts proven  and the  relief sought and granted in this case.  The Topifio case turned on the determination of the question of the legal title of the grantor of the conveyance  inscribed  in  the  land  registry,  and the  further question  of the right of the holder of a duly registered title to be secured in his right of possession  as against third persons who do not claim through him,  until and unless the inscription of his title has been judicially canceled.   In the case at bar the legal title of the holder of the registered title is not questioned; it is admitted that the members of the association voluntarily  obtained the inscription in  the name  of Cho Jan Ling and that they have no right to have that inscription canceled; they do not seek such cancellation, and on the  contrary they allege  and prove that the duly registered legal title to the property is in Cho Jan Ling, but they maintain,  and we think that they  rightly maintain, that he holds it under an obligation, both express and implied, to deal with  it exclusively tor the benefit of the members of the association and subject to their will.

Without prejudice to the filing of a more extended opinion hereafter by any of the members of the court, if it be deemed advisable or necessary so to do, the decree entered by the court below should be affirmed with the costs of this instance against the appellants.  It is so ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Moreland, and Trent, JJ., concur.