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F. Intentional Torts

F. INTENTIONAL TORTS

1. General

a. Concept

Quasi-delict is a civil law concept, while torts is an Anglo-American or common law concept. Torts is much broader than quasi-delict because it includes not only negligence, but intentional criminal acts as well such as assault and battery, false imprisonment and deceit. (Baksh v. CA, 19 February 1993, G.R. No. 97336)

In the general, intentional and malicious acts, with certain exceptions, are to be governed by the Revised Penal Code while negligent acts or omissions are to be covered by Article 2176 of the Civil Code. (Ibid.)

Article 2176 covers situations where an injury happens through an act or omission of the defendant. When it involves a positive act, the intention to commit the outcome is irrelevant. The act itself must not be a breach of an existing law or a pre-existing contractual obligation. What will be considered is whether there is “fault or negligence” attending the commission of the act which necessarily leads to the outcome considered as injurious by the plaintiff. The required degree of diligence will then be assessed in relation to the circumstances. (Ibid.)

b. Classes

1) Abuse of rights

There is a common element under Articles 19 and 21, and that is, the act must be intentional. However, Article 20 does not distinguish: the act may be done either “willfully”, or “negligently”. (Albenson Enterprises Corp. v. CA, G.R. No. 88694, 11 January 1993)

NB: For more discussions, see Part XII. Torts > A. Principles > 1. Abuse of right

2) Acts contrary to law

In between these opposite spectrums are injurious acts which, in the absence of Article 21, would have been beyond redress. Thus, Article 21 fills that vacuum. It is even postulated that together with Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code, Article 21 has greatly broadened the scope of the law on civil wrongs; it has become much more supple and adaptable than the Anglo-American law on torts. (Baksh v. CA, supra.)

NB: For more discussions, see Part XII. Torts > A. Principles > 4. Acts contrary to law

3) Acts contrary to morals

The common element under Articles 19 and 21 is that the act complained of must be intentional, and attended with malice or bad faith. (Mata v. Agravante, G.R. No. 147597, 06 August 2008)

NB: For more discussions, see Part XII. Torts > A. Principles > 5. Acts contrary to morals

4) Solutio indebiti

The quasi-contract of solutio indebiti harks back to the ancient principle that no one shall enrich himself unjustly at the expense of another. (Domestic Petroleum Retailer Corporation v. Manila International Airport Authoriti, G.R. No. 210641, 27 March 2019)

NB: For more discussions, see Part X. Quasi-Contractos > B. Solutio Indebiti

5) Torts with independent civil actions

Torts with independent civil actions are as follows:

1) Privacy violations (Article 27, Civil Code cf. Data Privacy Act)

2) Neglect of duty by public officials/employees (Article 27, Civil Code)

3) Unfair Competition (Article 28, Civil Code cf. Philippine Competition Act)

4) Violation of civil rights and liberties (Article 32, Civil Code)

5) Defamation (Article 33, Ibid.)

6) Fraud (Ibid.)

7) Physical injuries (Ibid.)

8) Refusal or failure to render aid or protection by police officers (Article 34, Ibid.)

2. Interference with rights to persons and property

a. INTERFERENCE WITH RIGHTS TO PERSONS

Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief:

1) Prying into the privacy of another’s residence;

2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another;

3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends;

4) Vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect, or other personal condition. (Article 26, Ibid.)

Article 26 of the Civil Code grants a cause of action for damages, prevention, and other relief in cases of breach, though not necessarily constituting a criminal offense, of the following rights: (1) right to personal dignity; (2) right to personal security; (3) right to family relations; (4) right to social intercourse; (5) right to privacy; and (6) right to peace of mind. (Gregorio v. CA, G.R. No. 179799, 11 September 2009)

RCPI’s negligence in not promptly performing its obligation to deliver a telegram undoubtedly disturbed the peace of mind not only of Grace but also her co-respondents.  It disrupted the “filial tranquillity” among them as they blamed each other “for failing to respond swiftly to an emergency.” The tortious acts and/or omissions complained of in this case are, therefore, analogous to acts mentioned under Article 26 of the Civil Code, which are among the instances of quasi-delict when courts may award moral damages under Article 2219 of the Civil Code. (Radio Communications of the Phlippines, Inc. [RCPI] v. Verchez, G.R. No. 164349, 31 January 2006)

b. INTERFERENCE WITH RIGHTS TO PROPERTY

A duty which the law of torts is concerned with is respect for the property of others, and a cause of action ex delicto may be predicated upon an unlawful interference by one person of the enjoyment by the other of his private property. (Ibid.)

3. Interference with relations

a. Tortious interference of a contract

The elements of tort interference are:

1) Existence of a valid contract;

2) Knowledge on the part of the third person of the existence of contract; and

3) Interference of the third person is without legal justification or excuse. (So Ping Bun v. CA, G.R. No. 120554, 21 September 1999)

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