MANILA BANKERS vs. NG KOK WEI, G.R. No. 139791, December 12, 2003

Eddy Ng Kok Wei, respondent, is a Singaporean businessman who ventured into investing in the Philippines. On November 29, 1988, respondent, in a Letter of Intent addressed to Manila Bankers Life Insurance Corporation, petitioner, expressed his intention to purchase a condominium unit at Valle Verde Terraces.

Subsequently or on December 5, 1988, respondent paid petitioner a reservation fee and paid 90% of the purchase price in the sum of ₱729,830.00. Petitioner, executed a Contract to Sell in favor of the respondent.

Considering that the stipulated 15-month period was at hand, respondent returned to the Philippines sometime in April, 1990. In a letter dated April 5, 1990, petitioner, informed respondent of the substantial completion of his condominium unit, however, due to various uncontrollable forces (such as coup d‘ etat attempts, typhoon and steel and cement shortage), the final turnover is reset to May 31, 1990. Meanwhile, on July 5, 1990, upon receipt of petitioner’s notice of delivery dated May 31, 1990, respondent again flew back to Manila. He found the unit still uninhabitable for lack of water and electric facilities. Once more, petitioner issued another notice to move-in addressed to its building administrator advising the latter that respondent is scheduled to move in on August 22, 1990.

On October 5, 1990, respondent returned to the Philippines only to find that his condominium unit was still unlivable. Exasperated, he was constrained to send petitioner a letter dated November 21, 1990 demanding payment for the damages he sustained. But petitioner ignored such demand, prompting respondent to file with the Regional Trial Court

On December 18, 1992, the trial court rendered a Decision finding the petitioner liable for payment of damages due to the delay in the performance of its obligation to the respondent.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in a Decision dated March 26, 1999, affirmed in toto the trial court’s award of damages in favor of the respondent.

Unsatisfied, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Appellate Court in a Resolution dated August 5, 1999.

Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner contends that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the instant case. On petitioner’s contention that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the instant case and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board is vested the authority to hear the case.

Whether the Respondent is estopped in questioning the jurisdiction of the Trial Court after it participated in the trial?

Yes, while it may be true that the trial court is without jurisdiction over the case, petitioner’s active participation in the proceedings estopped it from assailing such lack of it. We have held that it is an undesirable practice of a party participating in the proceedings and submitting its case for decision and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverse.

Here, petitioner failed to raise the question of jurisdiction before the trial court and the Appellate Court. In effect, petitioner confirmed and ratified the trial court’s jurisdiction over this case. Certainly, it is now in estoppel and can no longer question the trial court’s jurisdiction.


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