2013 Civil Law Exam Essay Questions

October 21, 2013
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I.

You are a Family Court judge and before you is a Petition for the Declaration of Nullity of Marriage (under Article 36 of the Family Code)filed by Maria against Neil. Maria claims that Neil is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage because Neil is a drunkard, a womanizer, a gambler, and a mama’s boy- traits that she never knew or saw when Neil was courting her. Although summoned, Neil did not answer Maria’s petition and never appeared in court.

To support her petition, Maria presented three witnesses- herself, Dr. Elsie Chan, and Ambrosia. Dr. Chan testified on the psychological report on Neil that she prepared. Since Neil never acknowledged n9r responded to her invitation for interviews, her report is solely based on her interviews with Maria and the spouses’ minor children. Dr. Chan concluded that Neil is suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, an ailment that she found to be already present since Neil’s early adulthood and one that is grave and incurable. Maria testified on the specific instances when she found Neil drunk, with another woman, or squandering the family’s resources in a casino. Ambrosia, the spouses’ current household help, corroborated Maria’s testimony.

On the basis of the evidence presented, will you grant the petition? (8%)

II.

A collision occurred at an intersection involving a bicycle and a taxicab. Both the bicycle rider (a businessman then doing his morning exercise) and the taxi driver claimed that the other was at fault. Based on the police report, the bicycle crossed the intersection first but the taxicab, crossing at a fast clip from the bicycle’s left, could not brake in time and hit the bicycle’s rear wheel, toppling it and throwing the bicycle rider into the sidewalk 5 meters away.

The bicycle rider suffered a fractured right knee, sustained when he fell on his right side on the concrete side walk. He was hospitalized and was subsequently operated on, rendering him immobile for 3 weeks and requiring physical rehabilitation for another 3 months. In his complaint for damages, the rider prayed for the award ofP1,000,000 actual damages,P200,000 moral damages, P200,000 exemplary damages, P1 00,000 nominal damages and P50,000 attorney’s fees.

Assuming the police report to be correct and as the lawyer for the bicycle rider, what evidence (documentary and testimonial) and legal arguments will you present in court to justify the damages that your client claims? (8%)

III.

Sergio is the registered owner of a 500-square meter land. His friend, Marcelo, who has long been interested in the property, succeeded in persuading Sergio to sell it to him. On June 2, 2012, they agreed on the purchase price of P600,000 and that Sergio would give Marcelo up to June30, 2012 within which to raise the amount. Marcelo, in a light tone usual between them, said that they should seal their agreement through a case of Jack Daniels Black and P5,000 “pulutan” money which he immediately handed to Sergio and which the latter accepted. The friends then sat down and drank the first bottle from the case of bourbon.

On June 15, 2013, Sergio learned of another buyer, Roberto, who was offering P800,000 in ready cash for the land. When Roberto confirmed that he could pay in cash as soon as Sergio could get the documentation ready, Sergio decided to withdraw his offer to Marcelo, hoping to just explain matters to his friend. Marcelo, however, objected when the withdrawal was communicated to him, taking the position that they have a firm and binding agreement that Sergio cannot simply walk away from because he has an option to buy that is duly supported by a duly accepted valuable consideration.

(A) Does Marcelo have a cause of action against Sergio? (5%)

(B) Can Sergio claim that whatever they might have agreed upon cannot be enforced because any agreement relating to the sale of real property must be supported by evidence in writing and they never reduced their agreement to writing? (3%)

IV.

Anselmo is the registered owner of a land and a house that his friend Boboy occupied for a nominal rental and on the condition that Boboy would vacate the property on demand. With Anselmo’s knowledge, Boboy introduced renovations consisting of an additional bedroom, a covered veranda, and a concrete block fence, at his own expense.

Subsequently, Anselmo needed the property as his residence and thus asked Boboy to vacate and turn it over to him. Boboy, despite an extension, failed to vacate the property, forcing Anselmo to send him a written demand to vacate.

In his own written reply, Boboy signified that he was ready to leave but Anselmo must first reimburse him the value of the improvements he introduced on the property as he is a builder in good faith. Anselmo refused, insisting that Boboy cannot ask for reimbursement as he is a mere lessee. Boboy responded by removing the improvements and leaving the building in its original state.

(A) Resolve Boboy’s claim that as a builder in good faith, he should be reimbursed the value of the improvements he introduced. (4%)

(B) Can Boboy be held liable for damages for removing the improvements over Anselmo’s objection? (4%)

V.

Josefa executed a deed of donation covering a one-hectare rice land in favor of her daughter, Jennifer. The deed specifically provides that:

“For and in consideration of he love and service Jennifer has shown and given to me, I hereby freely, voluntarily and irrevocably donate to her my one-hectare rice land covered by TCT No. 11550, located in San Fernando, Pampanga. This donation shall take effect upon my death.”

The deed also contained Jennifer’s signed acceptance, and an attached notarized declaration by Josefa and Jennifer that the land will remain in Josefa’s possession and cannot be alienated, encumbered, sold or disposed of while Josefa is still alive.

Advise Jennifer on whether the deed is a donation inter vivos or mortis causa and explain the reasons supporting your advice. (8%)

VI.

Lito obtained a loan of P1,000,000 from Ferdie, payable within one year. To secure payment, Lito executed a chattel mortgage on a Toyota Avanza and a real estate mortgage on a 200-square meter piece of property.

(A) Would it be legally significant – from the point of view of validity and enforceability – if the loan and the mortgages were in public or private instruments? (6%)

(B) Lito’s failure to pay led to the extra-judicial foreclosure of the mortgaged real property. Within a year from foreclosure, Lito tendered a manager’s check to Ferdie to redeem the property. Ferdie refused to accept payment on the ground that he wanted payment in cash: the check does not qualify as legal tender and does not include the interest payment. Is Ferdie’s refusal justified? (4%)

VII.

In 2005, Andres built a residential house on a lot whose only access to the national highway was a pathway crossing Brando’s property. Andres and others have been using this pathway (pathway A) since 1980.

In 2006, Brand0 fenced off his property, thereby blocking Andres’ access to the national highway. Andres demanded that part of the fence be removed to maintain his old access route to the highway (pathway A), but Brando refused, claiming that there was another available pathway (pathway B) for ingress and egress to the highway. Andres countered that pathway B has defects, is circuitous, and is extremely inconvenient to use.

To settle their dispute, Andres and Brando hired Damian, a geodetic and civil engineer, to survey and examine the two pathways and the surrounding areas, and to determine the shortest and the least prejudicial way through the servient estates. After the survey, the engineer concluded that pathway B is the longer route and will need improvements and repairs, but will not significantly affect the use of Brando’s property. On the other hand, pathway A that had long been in place, is the shorter route but would significantly affect the use of Brando’s property.

In light of the engineer’s findings and the circumstances of the case, resolve the parties’ right of way dispute. (6%)

VIII.

Ciriaco Realty Corporation (CRC) sold to the spouses Del a Cruz a500-square meter land (Lot A) in Paranaque. The land now has a fair market value of Pl,200,000. CRC likewise sold to the spouses Rodriguez, a 700-square meter land (Lot B) which is adjacent to Lot A. Lot B has a present fair market value of P1,500,000.

The spouses Dela Cruz constructed a house on Lot B, relying on there presentation of the CRC sales agent that it is the property they purchased. Only upon the completion of their house did the spouses Dela Cruz discover that they had built on Lot B owned by the spouses Rodriguez, not on Lot A that they purchased. They spent P 1 000,000 for the house.

As their lawyer, advise the spouses Dela Cruz on their rights and obligations under the given circumstances, and the recourses and options open to them to protect their interests. (8%)

IX.

Rica petitioned for the annulment of her ten-year old marriage to Richard. Richard hired Atty. Cruz to represent him in the proceedings. In payment for Atty. Cruz’s acceptance and legal fees, Richard conveyed to Atty. Cruz a parcel of land in Taguig that he recently purchased with his lotto winnings. The transfer documents were duly signed and Atty. Cruz immediately took possession by fencing off the property’s entire perimeter.

Desperately needing money to pay for his mounting legal fees and his other needs and despite the transfer to Atty. Cruz, Richard offered the same parcel of land for sale to the spouses Garcia. After inspection of the land, the spouses considered it a good investment and purchased it from Richard. Immediately after the sale, the spouses Garcia commenced the construction of a three-story building over the land, but they were prevented from doing this by Atty. Cruz who claimed he has a better right in light of the prior conveyance in his favor.

Is Atty. Cruz’s claim correct? (8%)

X.

Manuel was born on 12 March 1940 in a 1 000-square meter property where he grew up helping his father, Michael, cultivate the land. Michael has lived on the property since the land was opened for settlement at about the time of the Commonwealth government in 193 5, but for some reason never secured any title to the property other than a tax declaration in his name. He has held the property through the years in the concept of an owner and his stay was uncontested by others. He has also conscientiously and continuously paid the realty taxes on the land.

Michael died in 2000 and Manuel – as Michael’s only son and heir -now wants to secure and register title to the land in his own name. He consults you for legal advice as he wants to perfect his title to the land and secure its registration in his name.

(A) What are the laws that you need to consider in advising Manuel on how he can perfect his title and register the land in his name? Explain the relevance of these laws to your projected course of action. (4%)

(B) What do you have to prove to secure Manuel’s objectives and what documentation are necessary? (4%)

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