Mistaken action

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
18-May-2008

I once inherited a case for an aunt of mine in the province. She and my uncle were sued for "annulment of a deed of sale" over the lot on which their conjugal home was built.

When it was passed on to me, the case was already lost - in fact it was already for execution, my aunt's lawyer not having filed an appeal. The lawyer for the plaintiff had earlier filed a motion for execution asking that the court order my aunt's family to vacate the lot and the house. The judge actually granted the motion, and the sheriff served the notice on my aunt.

However, it was apparent that there was nothing in the decision which says anything about the plaintiff being entitled to the ownership, much less possession of the house and lot. It did not say that my aunt have to vacate the property. All it said was that the deed of absolute sale was null and void.

I filed a motion for reconsideration (of the order granting the execution) precisely on that ground. And, at the hearing, I also pointed out that, in fact, ownership may have already been with my aunt because of prescription. Before the case was filed, my aunt was already in the property for more than 10 years, and prescription in good faith (because of the colorable title that the deed of sale gave) may have already set in.

I was thinking how a mistake - which could have been easily prevented by reasonable foresight - cost the plaintiff. He won in paper only. In reality, he gained nothing. Why ask for annulment of the conveyance and not ask for reconveyance (of ownership and possession)?