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F. Conflict of laws

F. Conflict of laws

1. CONCEPT

Where the facts establish the existence of foreign elements, the case presents a conflict-of-laws issue. The foreign element in a case may appear in different forms, such as where one of the parties is an alien and the other is domiciled in another state. (Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso, G.R. Nos. 178382-83, 23 September 2015)

a. Requisites

1) That there must be an actual conflict; and

b) That the conflict involves a foreign element.

1) Requires actual conflict

Before determining which law should apply, first there should exist a conflict of laws situation requiring the application of the conflict of laws rules  (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, G.R. No. 149177, 23 November 2007)

2) Foreign element

Where the factual antecedents satisfactorily establish the existence of a foreign element, the problem could present a “conflicts” case. (Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA, G.R. No. 122191, 08 October 1998)

A factual situation that cuts across territorial lines and is affected by the diverse laws of two or more states is said to contain a “foreign element”. The presence of a foreign element is inevitable since social and economic affairs of individuals and associations are rarely confined to the geographic limits of their birth or conception. (Ibid.)

a) Various forms

The forms in which this foreign element may appear are many.  The foreign element may simply consist in the fact that one of the parties to a contract is an alien or has a foreign domicile, or that a contract between nationals of one State involves properties situated in another State. In other cases, the foreign element may assume a complex form. (Ibid.)

Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA (1998)

In the instant case, the foreign element consisted in the fact that private respondent Morada is a resident Philippine national, and that petitioner SAUDIA is a resident foreign corporation. Also, by virtue of the employment of Morada with the petitioner Saudia as a flight stewardess, events did transpire during her many occasions of travel across national borders, particularly from Manila, Philippines to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and vice versa, that caused a “conflicts” situation to arise.

We thus find private respondent’s assertion that the case is purely domestic, imprecise. A conflicts problem presents itself here, and the question of jurisdiction  confronts the court a quo. /end

b. Venue or choice of forum

1) Plaintiffs choice of forum, rarely be disturbed

Pragmatic considerations, including the convenience of the parties, also weigh heavily in favor of a trial court assuming jurisdiction. Paramount is the private interest of the litigant. Enforceability of a judgment if one is obtained is quite obvious. Relative advantages and obstacles to a fair trial are equally important. Plaintiff may not, by choice of an inconvenient forum, “vex”, “harass”, or “oppress” the defendant, e.g. by inflicting upon him needless expense or disturbance. But unless the balance is strongly in favor of the defendant, the plaintiffs choice of forum should rarely be disturbed. (Ibid.)

Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA (1998)

Weighing the relative claims of the parties, the court a quo found it best to hear the case in the Philippines. Had it refused to take cognizance of the case, it would be forcing plaintiff (private respondent now) to seek remedial action elsewhere, i.e. in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where she no longer maintains substantial connections. That would have caused a fundamental unfairness to her.

Moreover, by hearing the case in the Philippines no unnecessary difficulties and inconvenience have been shown by either of the parties. The choice of forum of the plaintiff (now private respondent) should be upheld.

Similarly, the trial court also possesses jurisdiction over the persons of the parties herein. By filing her Complaint and Amended Complaint with the trial court, private respondent has voluntary submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the court.

The records show that petitioner SAUDIA has filed several motions praying for the dismissal of Morada’s Amended Complaint. SAUDIA also filed an Answer In Ex Abundante Cautelam dated February 20, 1995. What is very patent and explicit from the motions filed, is that SAUDIA prayed for other reliefs under the premises. Undeniably, petitioner SAUDIA has effectively submitted to the trial court’s jurisdiction by praying for the dismissal of the Amended Complaint on grounds other than lack of jurisdiction. /end

2) If defendant seeks affirmative relief, it submits to court’s jurisdiction

In one case, the Supreme Court observed that the motion to dismiss filed on April 14, 1962, aside from disputing the lower court’s jurisdiction over defendant’s person, prayed for dismissal of the complaint on the ground that plaintiff’s cause of action has prescribed. By interposing such second ground in its motion to dismiss, Ker and Co., Ltd. availed of an affirmative defense on the basis of which it prayed the court to resolve controversy in its favor. For the court to validly decide the said plea of defendant Ker & Co., Ltd., it necessarily had to acquire jurisdiction upon the latter’s person, who, being the proponent of the affirmative defense, should be deemed to have abandoned its special appearance and voluntarily submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the court. (Republic v. Ker & Company, Ltd., En Banc, G.R. No. L-21609, 29 September 1966)

When the appearance is by motion for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person, it must be for the sole and separate purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court. If his motion is for any other purpose than to object to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, he thereby submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court. A special appearance by motion made for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person will be held to be a general appearance, if the party in said motion should, for example, ask for a dismissal of the action upon the further ground that the court had no jurisdiction over the subject matter. (De Midgely v. Ferandos, G.R. No. L34314, 13 May 1975)

c. The 3 alternatives open to courts or agencies in case of a conflicts case

When a conflicts case, one involving a foreign element, is brought before a court or administrative agency, there are three alternatives open to the latter in disposing of it:

1) Dismiss the case, either because of lack of jurisdiction or refusal to assume jurisdiction over the case;

2) Assume jurisdiction over the case and apply the internal law of the forum; or

3) Assume jurisdiction over the case and take into account or apply the law of some other State or States. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

2. JUDICIAL RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT-OF-LAWS PROBLEMS

The 3 consecutive phases

In the judicial resolution of conflict-of-laws problems, three consecutive phases are involved:

1) Jurisdiction;

2) Choice of law: and

3) Recognition and enforcement of judgments. (Ibid.)

Corresponding to these phases are the following questions:

1) Where can or should litigation be initiated?

2) Which law will the court apply? and

3) Where can the resulting judgment be enforced? (Ibid.)

In resolving the conflicts problem, courts should ask the following questions:

1) Under the law, do I have jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties to this case?

2) If the answer is yes, is this a convenient forum to the parties, in light of the facts?

3) If the answer is yes, what is the conflicts rule for this particular problem?

4) If the conflicts rule points to a foreign law, has said law been properly pleaded and proved by the one invoking it?

5) If so, is the application or enforcement of the foreign law in the forum one of the basic exceptions to the application of foreign law? In short, is there any strong policy or vital interest of the forum that is at stake in this case and which should preclude the application of foreign law? (Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso, supra.)

a. Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is defined as the power and authority of the courts to hear, try and decide cases. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by the Constitution or by law and by the material allegations in the complaint, regardless of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover all or some of the claims or reliefs sought therein. It cannot be acquired through a waiver or enlarged by the omission of the parties or conferred by the acquiescence of the court. (Ibid.)

Jurisdiction, however, has various aspects. For a court to validly exercise its power to adjudicate a controversy, it must have jurisdiction over the plaintiff or the petitioner, over the defendant or the respondent, over the subject matter, over the issues of the case and, in cases involving property, over the res or the thing which is the subject of the litigation. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

Jurisdiction over the subject matter in a judicial proceeding is conferred by the sovereign authority which establishes and organizes the court. It is given only by law and in the manner prescribed by law. It is further determined by the allegations of the complaint irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the claims asserted therein. To succeed in its motion for the dismissal of an action for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim, the movant must show that the court or tribunal cannot act on the matter submitted to it because no law grants it the power to adjudicate the claims. (Ibid.)

1) Domestic law determines jurisdiction

The court’s power to hear cases and controversies is derived from the Constitution and the laws. While it may choose to recognize laws of foreign nations, the court is not limited by foreign sovereign law short of treaties or other formal agreements, even in matters regarding rights provided by foreign sovereigns.(Ibid.)

That an employment contract is replete with references to foreign laws, and that it originated from and was returned to the foreign country, do not automatically preclude our labor tribunals from exercising jurisdiction to hear and try a labor case. (Ibid.)

Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso (2015)

That the employment contract of [the complainant] was replete with references to US laws, and that it originated from and was returned to the US, do not automatically preclude our labor tribunals from exercising jurisdiction to hear and try this case.

This case stemmed from an illegal dismissal complaint. The Labor Code, under Article 217, clearly vests original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving termination disputes to the Labor Arbiter.

Hence, the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case.

As regards jurisdiction over the parties, the Labor Arbiter acquired jurisdiction over the person of [the complainant], notwithstanding his [U.S.] citizenship, when he filed his complaint against [the employer/company] CMI. On the other hand, jurisdiction over the person of CMI was acquired through the coercive process of service of summons. We note that CMI never denied that it was served with summons. CMI has, in fact, voluntarily appeared and participated in the proceedings before the courts. Though a foreign corporation, CMI is licensed to do business in the Philippines and has a local business address here. The purpose of the law in requiring that foreign corporations doing business in the country be licensed to do so, is to subject the foreign corporations to the jurisdiction of our courts.

Considering that the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC have jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this case, these tribunals may proceed to try the case even if the rules of conflict-of-laws or the convenience of the parties point to a foreign forum, this being an exercise of sovereign prerogative of the country where the case is filed.

The next question is whether the local forum is the convenient forum in light of the facts of the case. CMI contends that a Philippine court is an inconvenient forum. /end

2) Doctrine of forum non conveniens

Under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a Philippine court in a conflict-of-laws case may assume jurisdiction if it chooses to do so, provided, that the following requisites are met:

1) That the Philippine Court is one to which the parties may conveniently resort to;

2) That the Philippine Court is in a position to make an intelligent decision as to the law and the facts; and

3) That the Philippine Court has or is likely to have power to enforce its decision. (Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso, supra.)

Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso (2015)

[All the requisites for the doctrine of forum non conveniens] are present here.

[The Complainant] may conveniently resort to our labor tribunals as he and CMI had physical presence in the Philippines during the duration of the trial. CMI has a Philippine branch, while Basso, before his death, was residing here.

Thus, it could be reasonably expected that no extraordinary measures were needed for the parties to make arrangements in advocating their respective cases.

The labor tribunals can make an intelligent decision as to the law and facts. The incident subject of this case (i.e. dismissal of Basso) happened in the Philippines, the surrounding circumstances of which can be ascertained without having to leave the Philippines. The acts that allegedly led to loss of trust and confidence and Basso’s eventual dismissal were committed in the Philippines. As to the law, we hold that Philippine law is the proper law of the forum, as we shall discuss shortly. Also, the labor tribunals have the power to enforce their judgments because they acquired jurisdiction over the persons of both parties.

Our labor tribunals being the convenient fora, the next question is what law should apply in resolving this case. /end

a) Not a ground for motion to dismiss

Forum non conveniens cannot be used to deprive the trial court of its jurisdiction. First, it is not a proper basis for a motion to dismiss because Section 1, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court does not include it as a ground. Second, whether a suit should be entertained or dismissed on the basis of the said doctrine depends largely upon the facts of the particular case and is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court. Third, the propriety of dismissing a case based on this principle requires a factual determination; hence, this conflicts principle is more properly considered a matter of defense. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

b. Choice of Law

The choice-of-law issue in a conflict-of-laws case seeks to answer the following important questions:

1) What legal system should control a given situation where some of the significant facts occurred in two or more states; and

2) To what extent should the chosen legal system regulate the situation. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

These questions are entirely different from the question of jurisdiction that only seeks to answer whether the courts of a state where the case is initiated have jurisdiction to enter a judgment. As such, the power to exercise jurisdiction does not automatically give a state constitutional authority to apply forum law. (Ibid.)

1) Characterization or Doctrine of Qualification

Before a choice can be made, it is necessary for us to determine under what category a certain set of facts or rules fall. This process is known as “characterization”, or the “doctrine of qualification”. It is the “process of deciding whether or not the facts relate to the kind of question specified in a conflicts rule.” (Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA, supra.)

a) Purpose

The purpose of “characterization” is to enable the forum to select the proper law. (Ibid.)

b) Starting point: factual relation, event, or operative fact

Our starting point of analysis here is not a legal relation, but a factual situation, event, or operative fact. (Ibid.)

c) Test or connecting factor or point of contract

An essential element of conflict rules is the indication of a “test” or “connecting factor” or “point of contact”. Choice-of-law rules invariably consist of a factual relationship (such as property right, contract claim) and a connecting fact or point of contact, such as the situs of the res, the place of celebration, the place of performance, or the place of wrongdoing. (Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso, supra.)

(1) Test Factors

Note that one or more circumstances may be present to serve as the possible test for the determination of the applicable law. These “test factors” or “points of contact” or “connecting factors” could be any of the following:

1) The nationality of a person, his domicile, his residence, his place of sojourn, or his origin;

2) the seat of a legal or juridical person, such as a corporation;

3) the situs of a thing, that is, the place where a thing is, or is deemed to be situated. In particular, the lex situs is decisive when real rights are involved;

4) the place where an act has been done, the locus actus, such as the place where a contract has been made, a marriage celebrated, a will signed or a tort committed. The lex loci actus is particularly important in contracts and torts;

5) the place where an act is intended to come into effect, e.g., the place of performance of contractual duties, or the place where a power of attorney is to be exercised;

6) the intention of the contracting parties as to the law that should govern their agreement, the lex loci intentionis;

7) the place where judicial or administrative proceedings are instituted or done. The lex fori — the law of the forum — is particularly important because, as we have seen earlier, matters of “procedure” not going to the substance of the claim involved are governed by it; and because the lex fori applies whenever the content of the otherwise applicable foreign law is excluded from application in a given case for the reason that it falls under one of the exceptions to the applications of foreign law; and

8) the flag of a ship, which in many cases is decisive of practically all legal relationships of the ship and of its master or owner as such. It also covers contractual relationships particularly contracts of affreightment. (Saudi Arabian Lines v. CA, supra.)

Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso (2015)

We hold that the “test factors,” “points of contact” or “connecting factors” in this case are the following:

(1) The nationality, domicile or residence of Basso;

(2) The seat of CMI;

(3) The place where the employment contract has been made, the locus actus;

(4) The place where the act is intended to come into effect, e.g., the place of performance of contractual duties;

(5) The intention of the contracting parties as to the law that should govern their agreement, the lex loci intentionis; and

(6) The place where judicial or administrative proceedings are instituted or done.

Applying the foregoing in this case, we conclude that Philippine law is the applicable law. Basso, though a US citizen, was a resident here from the time he was hired by CMI until his death during the pendency of the case. CMI, while a foreign corporation, has a license to do business in the Philippines and maintains a branch here, where Basso was hired to work. The contract of employment was negotiated in the Philippines. A purely consensual contract, it was also perfected in the Philippines when Basso accepted the terms and conditions of his employment as offered by CMI. The place of performance relative to Basso’s contractual duties was in the Philippines. The alleged prohibited acts of Basso that warranted his dismissal were committed in the Philippines.

Clearly, the Philippines is the state with the most significant relationship to the problem. Thus, we hold that CMI and Basso intended Philippine law to govern, notwithstanding some references made to US laws and the fact that this intention was not expressly stated in the contract. We explained in Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee Corporation v. V. P. Eusebio Construction, Inc. that the law selected may be implied from such factors as substantial connection with the transaction, or the nationality or domicile of the parties. We cautioned, however, that while Philippine courts would do well to adopt the first and most basic rule in most legal systems, namely, to allow the parties to select the law applicable to their contract, the selection is subject to the limitation that it is not against the law, morals, or public policy of the forum.

Similarly, in Bank of America, NT & SA v. American Realty Corporation, we ruled that a foreign law, judgment or contract contrary to a sound and established public policy of the forum shall not be applied.

2) State of the most significant relationship rule

In applying said principle to determine the State which has the most significant relationship, the following contacts are to be taken into account and evaluated according to their relative importance with respect to the particular issue:

1) The place where the injury occurred;

2) The place where the conduct causing the injury occurred;

3) The domicile, residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of the parties, and

4) The place where the relationship, if any, between the parties is centered. (Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA, supra.)

3) Lex fori or law of the forum

Lex fori means law of the forum. (Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA, supra.)

a) Matters of remedy and procedure – e.g. service of summons

Matters of remedy and procedure such as those relating to the service of process upon the defendant are governed by the lex fori or the law of the forum. (Asiavest Limited v. CA, G.R. No. 128803, 25 September 1998)

The lex fori — the law of the forum — is particularly important because, as we have seen earlier, matters of “procedure” not going to the substance of the claim involved are governed by it; and because the lex fori applies whenever the content of the otherwise applicable foreign law is excluded from application in a given case for the reason that it falls under one of the exceptions to the applications of foreign law. (Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA, supra.)

b) Different from determining jurisdiction

The power to exercise jurisdiction does not automatically give a state constitutional authority to apply forum law. While jurisdiction and the choice of the lex fori will often coincide, the “minimum contacts” for one do not always provide the necessary “significant contacts” for the other. The question of whether the law of a state can be applied to a transaction is different from the question of whether the courts of that state have jurisdiction to enter a judgment. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

c) When foreign judgment follows different procedure from lex fori

The recognition to be accorded a foreign judgment is not necessarily affected by the fact that the procedure in the courts of the country in which such judgment was rendered differs from that of the courts of the country in which the judgment is relied on. This Court has held that matters of remedy and procedure are governed by the lex fori or the internal law of the forum. (Oil and Natural Gas Commission v. CA, G.R. No. 114323, 23 July 1998)

Thus, if under the procedural rules of the Civil Court of Dehra Dun, India, a valid judgment may be rendered by adopting the arbitrator’s findings, then the same must be accorded respect. In the same vein, if the procedure in the foreign court mandates that an Order of the Court becomes final and executory upon failure to pay the necessary docket fees, then the courts in this jurisdiction cannot invalidate the order of the foreign court simply because our rules provide otherwise. (Ibid.)

d) When public policy demands lex fori

In one case involving adoption, it was held that the status of adoption, once created under the proper foreign law, will be recognized in this country, except where public policy or the interests of its inhabitants forbid its enforcement and demand the substitution of the lex fori. Indeed, implicit in Article 15 of our Civil Code just quoted, is that the exercise of incidents to foreign adoption “remains subject to local law.”

e) Presumption of foreign law being the same with lex fori

The presumption is that the foreign law is identical to the lex fori, or, in cases before this jurisdiction, the Philippine Law. (Rayray v. Lee, En Banc, G.R. No. L-18176, 26 October 1966)

4) When Foreign law, judgment or contract should not be applied

Foreign law should not be applied when its application would work undeniable injustice to the citizens or residents of the forum. To give justice is the most important function of law; hence, a law, or judgment or contract that is obviously unjust negates the fundamental principles of Conflict of Laws. (Bank of America, NT & SA v. American Realty Corporation, G.R. No. 133876, 29 December 1999)

Termination-at-will is anathema to the public policies on labor protection espoused by our laws and Constitution, which dictates that no worker shall be dismissed except for just and authorized causes provided by law and after due process having been complied with. Hence, the US Railway Labor Act, which sanctions termination-at-will, should not be applied in this case. (Continental Micronesia, Inc. v. Basso, supra.)

5) No judicial notice of foreign law

There is no judicial notice of any foreign law. As any other fact, it must be alleged and proved. If the foreign law is not properly pleaded or proved, the presumption of identity or similarity of the foreign law to our own laws, otherwise known as processual presumption, applies. Here, US law may have been properly pleaded but it was not proved in the labor tribunals. (Ibid.)

When the law of a foreign country is invoked to provide the proper rules for the solution of a case, the existence of such law must be pleaded and proved. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

Foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and proved. (Llorente v. CA, G.R. No. 124371, 23 November 2000)

6) Jurisdiction v. Choice of Law

Jurisdiction and choice of law are two distinct concepts. Jurisdiction considers whether it is fair to cause a defendant to travel to this state; choice of law asks the further question whether the application of a substantive law which will determine the merits of the case is fair to both parties. The power to exercise jurisdiction does not automatically give a state constitutional authority to apply forum law. While jurisdiction and the choice of the lex fori will often coincide, the “minimum contacts” for one do not always provide the necessary “significant contacts” for the other. The question of whether the law of a state can be applied to a transaction is different from the question of whether the courts of that state have jurisdiction to enter a judgment. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

c. Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments

Philippine courts exercise limited review on foreign judgments and are not allowed to delve into its merits. Thus, the action for recognition of foreign judgment does not require the relitigation of the case under a Philippine court. (Encarnacion v. Johnson, G.R. No. 192285, 11 July 2018)

1) Effect of foreign judgments under the Rules of Court

The effect of a judgment of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment is as follows:

1) In case of a judgment upon a specific thing, the judgment is conclusive upon the title to the thing;

2) In case of a judgment against a person, the judgment is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title; but the judgment 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. (Section 50, Rule 39, Rules of Court)

In both action in personam and action in rem, the foreign judgment is susceptible to impeachment in our local courts on the grounds of want of jurisdiction or notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. Thus, the party aggrieved by the foreign judgment is entitled to defend against the enforcement of such decision in the local forum. It is essential that there should be an opportunity to challenge the foreign judgment, in order for the court in this jurisdiction to properly determine its efficacy.

2) Res judicata only if oppositors are given ample opportunity to repel

While the Supreme Court has given the effect of res judicata to foreign judgments in several cases, 7 it was after the parties opposed to the judgment had been given ample opportunity to repel them on grounds allowed under the law. (Phil Sec Invesment Corporation v. CA, G.R. No. 103493, 19 June 1997)

It is not necessary for this purpose to initiate a separate action or proceeding for enforcement of the foreign judgment. What is essential is that there is opportunity to challenge the foreign judgment, in order for the court to properly determine its efficacy. This is because in this jurisdiction, with respect to actions in personam, as distinguished from actions in rem, a foreign judgment merely constitutes prima facie evidence of the justness of the claim of a party and, as such, is subject to proof to the contrary. (Ibid.)

2) Who may repel

Once admitted and proven in a Philippine court, a foreign judgment can only be repelled by the parties and their successors in interest by subsequent title on grounds external to its merits, i.e., “want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.” (Encarnacion v. Johnson, citing Section 48[b], Rule 39, Rules of Court)

3) Effects against an action in personam

A foreign judgment or final order against a person creates a “presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.” (Ibid., citing Section 48[b], Rule 39, Rules of Court)

3) Effects against an action in rem

For an action in rem, the foreign judgment is deemed conclusive upon the title to the thing, while in an action in personam, the foreign judgment is presumptive, and not conclusive, of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title. (BPI v. Guevara, G.R. No. 167052, 11 March 2015)

3. PERSONAL LAW

a. Personal Status and Legal Capacity

Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad. (Article 15, Civil Code)

1) Intestate and testamentary succession

Intestate and testamentary succession, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. (Paragraph 2, Article 16, Ibid.)

b. Domicile

The terms “residence” and “domicile” might well be taken to mean the same thing, a place of permanent abode. But domicile, as has been shown, has acquired a technical meaning. Thus one may be domiciled in a place where he has never been. And he may reside in a place where he has no domicile. The man with two homes, between which he divides his time, certainly resides in each one, while living in it. But if he went on business which would require his presence for several weeks or months, he might properly be said to have sufficient connection with the place to be called a resident. It is clear, however, that, if he treated his settlement as continuing only for the particular business in hand, not giving up his former “home,” he could not be a domiciled New Yorker. Acquisition of a domicile of choice requires the exercise of intention as well as physical presence. “Residence simply requires bodily presence of an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one’s domicile.” Residence, however, is a term used with many shades of meaning, from the merest temporary presence to the most permanent abode, and it is not safe to insist that any one use et the only proper one. (Goodrich on Conflict of Laws, p. 29, cited in In the Matter of the Testate Estate of Edward E. Christensen, En Banc, G.R. No. L-16749, 31 January 1963)

c. Renvoi

The term renvoi means to reference back. (Testate Estate of Amos G. Bellis, En Banc, G.R. No. L-23678, 06 June 1967)

Under the renvoi doctrine, a case is “referred back” to the law of the decedent’s domicile. (Llorente v. CA, G.R. No. 124371, 23 November 2000)

1) Takes into account the whole of the law

The theory of the doctrine of renvoi is that the court of the forum, in determining the question before it, must take into account the whole law of the other jurisdiction, but also its rules as to conflict of laws, and then apply the law to the actual question which the rules of the other jurisdiction prescribe. This may be the law of the forum. (In the Matter of the Testate Estate of Edward E. Christensen, En Banc, G.R. No. L-16749, 31 January 1963)

The recognition of the renvoi theory implies that the rules of the conflict of laws are to be understood as incorporating not only the ordinary or internal law of the foreign state or country, but its rules of the conflict of laws as well. According to this theory ‘the law of a country’ means the whole of its law. (Ibid.)

4. PROPERTY

Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. (Article 16, Ibid.)

5. CONTRACTS

The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed. (Article 17, Civil Code)

When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine laws shall be observed in their execution. (Paragraph 2, Article 17, Ibid.)

a. Lex loci celebrationis

Lex loci celebrationis relates to the “law of the place of the ceremony” or the law of the place where a contract is made. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

1) Controls nature, construction, validity of contract

The doctrine of lex contractus or lex loci contractus means the “law of the place where a contract is executed or to be performed.” It controls the nature, construction, and validity of the contract and it may pertain to the law voluntarily agreed upon by the parties or the law intended by them either expressly or implicitly. (Ibid.)

2) Application of the “state of the most significant relationship rule”

Under the “state of the most significant relationship rule,” to ascertain what state law to apply to a dispute, the court should determine which state has the most substantial connection to the occurrence and the parties. In a case involving a contract, the court should consider where the contract was made, was negotiated, was to be performed, and the domicile, place of business, or place of incorporation of the parties. This rule takes into account several contacts and evaluates them according to their relative importance with respect to the particular issue to be resolved. (Ibid.)

3) If applicable law is reference in the contract, they are the choice of law

If lex loci celebrationis, doctrine of lex contractus or lex loci contractus, and “the state of the most significant relationship” rule, make reference to the law applicable to a dispute, they are rules proper for the choice of law. They determine which state’s law is to be applied in resolving the substantive issues of a conflicts problem. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, supra.)

6. TORTS

Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict. (Article 2176, Civil Code)

a. Lex loci actus

Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA (1998)

After a careful study of the pleadings on record, including allegations in the Amended Complaint deemed admitted for purposes of the motion to dismiss, we are convinced that there is reasonable basis for private respondent’s assertion that although she was already working in Manila, petitioner brought her to Jeddah on the pretense that she would merely testify in an investigation of the charges she made against the two SAUDIA crew members for the attack on her person while they were in Jakarta. As it turned out, she was the one made to face trial for very serious charges, including adultery and violation of Islamic laws and tradition.

There is likewise logical basis on record for the claim that the “handing over” or “turning over” of the person of private respondent to Jeddah officials, petitioner may have acted beyond its duties as employer. Petitioner’s purported act contributed to and amplified or even proximately caused additional humiliation, misery and suffering of private respondent. Petitioner thereby allegedly facilitated the arrest, detention and prosecution of private respondent under the guise of petitioner’s authority as employer, taking advantage of the trust, confidence and faith she reposed upon it. As purportedly found by the Prince of Makkah, the alleged conviction and imprisonment of private respondent was wrongful. But these capped the injury or harm allegedly inflicted upon her person and reputation, for which petitioner could be liable as claimed, to provide compensation or redress for the wrongs done, once duly proven.

Considering that the complaint in the court a quo is one involving torts, the “connecting factor” or “point of contact” could be the place or places where the tortious conduct or lex loci actus occurred. And applying the torts principle in a conflicts case, we find that the Philippines could be said as a situs of the tort (the place where the alleged tortious conduct took place). This is because it is in the Philippines where petitioner allegedly deceived private respondent, a Filipina residing and working here. According to her, she had honestly believed that petitioner would, in the exercise of its rights and in the performance of its duties, “act with justice, give her due and observe honesty and good faith.” Instead, petitioner failed to protect her, she claimed. That certain acts or parts of the injury allegedly occurred in another country is of no moment. For in our view what is important here is the place where the over-all harm or the totality of the alleged injury to the person, reputation, social standing and human rights of complainant, had lodged, according to the plaintiff below (herein private respondent). All told, it is not without basis to identify the Philippines as the situs of the alleged tort. /end

b. Application of the “State of the Most Significant Relationship” rule on torts

Saudi Arabian Airlines v. CA (1998)

There is basis for the claim that over-all injury occurred and lodged in the Philippines. There is likewise no question that private respondent is a resident Filipina national, working with petitioner, a resident foreign corporation engaged here in the business of international air carriage. Thus, the “relationship” between the parties was centered here, although it should be stressed that this suit is not based on mere labor law violations. From the record, the claim that the Philippines has the most significant contact with the matter in this dispute, raised by private respondent as plaintiff below against defendant (herein petitioner), in our view, has been properly established.

Prescinding from this premise that the Philippines is the situs of the tort complained of and the place “having the most interest in the problem”, we find, by way of recapitulation, that the Philippine law on tort liability should have paramount application to and control in the resolution of the legal issues arising out of this case. Further, we hold that the respondent Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of the complaint; the appropriate venue is in Quezon City, which could properly apply Philippine law. Moreover, we find untenable petitioner’s insistence that “[s]ince private respondent instituted this suit, she has the burden of pleading and proving the applicable Saudi law on the matter.” As aptly said by private respondent, she has “no obligation to plead and prove the law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since her cause of action is based on Articles 19 and 21” of the Civil Code of the Philippines. In her Amended Complaint and subsequent pleadings, she never alleged that Saudi law should govern this case. And as correctly held by the respondent appellate court, “considering that it was the petitioner who was invoking the applicability of the law of Saudi Arabia, then the burden was on it [petitioner] to plead and to establish what the law of Saudi Arabia is”. /end

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