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CA • Upon these facts, the CA held that the deed of donation was inoperative, and null
December 18, 1957 | Reyes, J.B.L., J. | Cause vs. Motive and void (1) because the husband, Lopez, had no right to donate conjugal property
to the plaintiff appellant; and (2) because the donation was tainted with illegal
PETITIONER: Conchita Liguez causa or consideration, of which donor and donee were participants.
RESPONDENTS: Court of Appeals, Maria Ngo Vda. De Lopez • Appellant vigorously argued that under Article 1274 of the Civil Code of 1889
"in contracts of pure beneficence the consideration is the liberality of the donor",
SUMMARY: and that liberality per se can never be illegal, since it is neither against law or
Through a deed of donation, Salvador Lopez donated a parcel of land to Conchita Liguez, morals or public policy.
who was then 16. In an action commenced by Conchita to recover the same, the CA found
that the deed was null and void for having an illegal causa and for Salvador’s lack of right ISSUE/s:
to donate conjugal property. This was based upon the finding that Salvador donated the land WON the donation is void for having an illicit cause or consideration - YES
in order to cohabit with and have sexual relations with Conchita. The CA also rejected the
claim based on the in pari delicto rule. The SC found that the conveyance was indeed RULING: Decisions appealed from reversed and set aside. Conchita Liguez entitled
predicated on an illegal causa. However, the pari delicto rule does not apply since at the to so much of the donated property as may be found, upon proper liquidation, not to
time of the donation, Salvador was a man advanced in years and Conchita was only 16. prejudice the share of the widow Maria Ngo in the conjugal partnership or the
Furthermore, Salvador’s forced heirs are barred from invoking the illegality of the causa, legitimes of Salvador’s forced heirs. The records are remanded to the court of origin
and are thereby only entitled to a declaration of the donation as inofficious. for further proceedings.

DOCTRINE: The motive of the parties may be regarded as causa when it predetermines RATIO:
the purpose of the contract. • The flaw in this argument lies in ignoring that under Article 1274,
liberality of the donor is deemed causa only in those contracts that
are of "pure" beneficence; that is to say, contracts designed solely and
• Liguez filed a complaint against the widow and heirs of the late Salvador P. Lopez
exclusively to procure the welfare of the beneficiary, without any
to recover a parcel of 51.84 hectares of land, situated in Barrio Bogac-
intent of producing any satisfaction for the donor; contracts, in other
Linot, of Mati, Davao.
words, in which the idea of self-interest is totally absent on the part of the
• Liguez claimed to be its legal owner, pursuant to a deed of donation of said land,
executed in her favor by the late owner, Salvador P. Lopez.
• The same Art. 1274 provides that in remuneratory contracts, the consideration
• The defense interposed that the donation was null and void for having an illicit
is the service or benefit for which the remuneration is given; causa is not
causa or consideration - entering into marital relations with Salvador P. Lopez, a
liberality in these cases because the contract or conveyance is not made
married man; and that the property had been adjudicated to the respondents as out of pure beneficence, but "solvendi animo."
heirs of Lopez by the CFI.
• Here the facts as found by the CA demonstrate that in making the donation in
• The CA found that the donation was made in view of the desire of Salvador P. question, the late Salvador P. Lopez was not moved exclusively by the desire to
Lopez, to have sexual relations with Liguez but her parents would not allow Lopez benefit appellant Conchita Liguez, but also to secure her cohabiting with him,
to live with her unless he first donated the land in question.
so that he could gratify his sexual impulses. Thus considered, the conveyance
• After the donation, ConchitaLiguez and Salvador P. Lopez lived together in the was clearly predicated upon an illicit causa.
house that was built upon the latter's orders, until Lopez was killed on July 1st,
• Manresa himself stated that while maintaining the distinction and upholding the
1943, by some guerrillas who believed him to be pro-Japanese. inoperativeness of the motives of the parties to determine the validity of the
• CA also found that the donated land originally belonged to the conjugal contract, expressly excepts from the rule those contracts that are conditioned
partnership of Lopez and his wife, Maria Ngo; that the latter had met and berated upon the attainment of the motives of either party.
Conchita for living maritally with her husband, that the widow and
• Supreme Court of Spain holding that the motive may be regarded as causa when
children of Lopez were in possession of the land and made improvements; that it predetermines the purpose of the contract.
the land was assessed in the tax rolls first in the name of Lopez and later in
• In the present case, it is scarsely disputable that Lopez would not have conveyed
that of his widow; and that the need of donation was never recorded.
the property in question had he known that appellant would refuse to cohabit

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with him; so that the cohabitation was an implied condition to the donation, and 7. Re: improvements in the land – governed by rules of accession and possession
being unlawful, necessarily tainted the donation itself. in good faith, since Maria and Salvador’s heirs were unaware of the donation to
Conchita when the improvements were made.
DISCUSSION OF UNRELATED ISSUES: 8. Re: laches – Conchita only enforced her right as donee in 1951. But the Court
1. The CA erred in applying the pari delicto rule. The facts are more suggestive of highlights that in 1943, she was still sixteen; she only reached the age of majority
seduction than of immoral bargaining. in 1948. Her action 1951 was only delayed three years. Furthermore, she couldn’t
a. It cannot be said that both parties had equal guilt. Salvador was a have intervened in Salvador’s estate proceedings because she was a minor for its
man advanced in years and mature experience, and Conchita was great part. Also, the donation did not make her a creditor of the estate.
only 16 when the donation was made. 9. A donation with illegal causa may produce effects under certain
b. The CA did not find that she was fully aware of the terms of the circumstances where the parties are not of equal guilt.
bargain entered into by her parents.
c. Her acceptance of the deed does not imply knowledge of conditions
and terms not set forth therein.
d. Witnesses testified that it was Conchita’s parents who insisted on
the donation.
2. The rule that parties to an illegal contract, if equally guilty, will not be aided
by the law but will both be left where it finds them, has been interpreted by
this Court as barring the party from pleading the illegality of the bargain
either as a cause of action or as a defense. But where the plaintiff can establish
a cause of action without exposing its illegality, the vice does not affect the right
to recover.
3. Applied to the case: Conchita seeks recovery of the land based on the strength of
a donation regular on its face. To defeat its effect, the heirs must plead and prove
that the same is illegal, which they cannot do, since Lopez himself, if living, would
be barred from setting up that plea.
4. Lopez could not donate the entirety of the property to the prejudice of his
wife. The donation is void only insofar as it prejudices the interest of his wife.
a. FC 1409: The conjugal partnership can be charged anything given or
promised by the husband in order to obtain employment for his children, or
give them a profession.
b. 1415: The husband may dispose of the property of the conjugal partnership
for purposes in Art. 1409.
c. 1413: The husband may for a valuable consideration alienate and encumber
the property of the conjugal partnership without the consent of the wife.
5. To determine the prejudice to the widow, it must be shown that the value of her
share in the property donated cannot be paid out of the husband’s share of the
community profits. However, the requisite data are not available to the court. The
records need to be remanded to the court of origin that settled Salvador’s estate.
6. Salvador’s forced heirs cannot invoke the illegality of the donation, but are
entitled to have the donation set aside insofar as inofficious, based on their
rights to a legitime out of his estate. However, only the court of origin has the
requisite data to determine whether or not it is inofficious.

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