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Natural Obligations


Obligations are civil or natural. (Article 1423, Civil Code.)


Civil obligations give a right of action to compel their performance. (Ibid.)


Natural obligations, not being based on positive law but on equity and natural law, do not grant a right of action to enforce their performance, but after voluntary fulfillment by the obligor, they authorize the retention of what has been delivered or rendered by reason thereof.(Ibid.)

a. Voluntary performance after extinctive prescription

When a right to sue upon a civil obligation has lapsed by extinctive prescription, the obligor who voluntarily performs the contract cannot recover what he has delivered or the value of the service he has rendered. (Article 1424, Ibid.)

b. Voluntary reimbursement of a third person who pays a prescribed debt

When without the knowledge or against the will of the debtor, a third person pays a debt which the obligor is not legally bound to pay because the action thereon has prescribed, but the debtor later voluntarily reimburses the third person, the obligor cannot recover what he has paid. (Article 1425, Ibid.)

c. Voluntary performance despite failure of legal action to enforce

When, after an action to enforce a civil obligation has failed the defendant voluntarily performs the obligation, he cannot demand the return of what he has delivered or the payment of the value of the service he has rendered. (Article 1428, Ibid.)

d. Voluntary payment by heir of decedent’s debt even if exceeding value of heir’s inheritance

When a testate or intestate heir voluntarily pays a debt of the decedent exceeding the value of the property which he received by will or by the law of intestacy from the estate of the deceased, the payment is valid and cannot be rescinded by the payer. (Article 1429, Ibid.)

e. Voluntary payment by intestate heir of a legacy in compliance with a defective will

When a will is declared void because it has not been executed in accordance with the formalities required by law, but one of the intestate heirs, after the settlement of the debts of the deceased, pays a legacy in compliance with a clause in the defective will, the payment is effective and irrevocable. (Article 1430, Ibid.)

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