Bar Q and A #42

1. A Notice of Lis Pendens may be cancelled even before final Judgment upon proper showing that the notice is for the purpose of molesting or harassing the adverse party or that the notice of lis pendens is not necessary to protect the right of the party who caused it to be registered. (Sec. 77, P.D. No. 1529) In this case, it is given that Rachelle is the legitimate owner of the land in question. It can be said, therefore, that when she filed her notice of lis pendens her purpose was to protect her interest in the land and not just to molest Rommel. It is necessary to record the lis pendens to protect her interest because if she did not do it, there is a possibility that the land will fall into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value and in that event, the court loses control over the land making any favorable judgment thereon moot and academic. For these reasons, the notice of lis pendens may not be cancelled.
2. Yes, Rachelle's suit will prosper because all elements for an action for reconveyance are present, namely:
a. Rachelle is claiming dominical rights over the sameland.
b. Rommel procured his title to the land by fraud.
c. The action was brought within the statutory period of four (4) years from discovery of the fraud and not later than ten (10) years from the date of registration of Rommel'stitle.
d. Title to the land has not passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value.

Rommel could invoke the indefeasibility of his title if Rachelle had filed a petition to reopen or review the decree of registration. But Rachelle instead filed an ordinary action in personam for reconveyance. In the latter action, indefeasibility is not a valid defense because, in filing such action, Rachelle is not seeking to nullify nor to impugn the indefeasibility of Rommel's title. She is only asking the court to compel Rommel to reconvey the title to her as the legitimate owner of the land.

1. Carlos is a buyer in bad faith. The notice of lis pendens was still annotated at the back of the title at the time he bought the land from Bart. The uncancelled notice of lis pendens operates as constructive notice of its contents as well as interests, legal or equitable, included therein. All persons are charged with the knowledge of what it contains. In an earlier case, it was held that a notice of an adverse claim remains effective and binding notwithstanding the lapse of the 30 days from its inscription in the registry. This ruling is even more applicable in a lis pendens. Carlos is a transferee pendente lite insofar as Sancho’s share in the co-ownership in the land is concerned because the land was transferred to him during the pendency of the appeal.

2. Pacifico can protect his right as a co-owner by pursuing his appeal; asking the Court of Appeals to order the re-annotation of the lis pendens on the title of Carlos; and by invoking his right of redemption of Bart’s share under Art. 1620.

1. Yes, Dehlma is a purchaser in good faith. She learned about the XYZ tax declaration and foreclosure sale only after the sale to her was registered. She relied on the certificate of title of her predecessor-in-interest. Under the Torrens system, a buyer of registered lands is not required by law to inquire further than what the Torrens certificate indicates on its face. If a person proceeds to buy it relying on the title, that person is considered as buyer in good faith. The “priority in time” rule could not be invoked by XYZ Bank because the foreclosure sale of the land in favor of the bank was recorded under Act No. 3344, the law governing transaction affecting unregistered land, and thus, does not bind the land.

2. Between Dehlma and the bank, the former has a better right to the house and lot.

1. LACHES means failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do what, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier. It is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time. (De Vera v. CA, G.R. No. 97761, April 14, 1999)

2. While Art. 1413 of the Spanish Civil Code did not require the consent of the wife for the validity of the sale, an alienation by the husband in fraud of the wife is void as held in Uy Coque v. Navas. (G.R. No. L-20392, November 20, 1923) Assuming that the alienation in 1948 was in fraud of Winda and, therefore, makes the sale to Verde void, the action to set aside the sale, nonetheless, is already barred by prescription and laches. More than 52 years have already elapsed from her discovery of the sale in 1950.

a) Renren's action to recover possession of the land will prosper. In 1965, after buying the land from Robyn, he submitted the Deed of Sale to the Registry of Deeds for registration together with the owner's duplicate copy of the title, and paid the corresponding registration fees. Under Sec.
56 of PD No. 1529, the Deed of Sale to Renren is considered registered from the time the sale was entered in the Day Book (now called the Primary Entry Book). For all legal intents and purposes, Renren is considered the registered owner of the land. After all, it was not his fault that the Registry of Deeds could not issue the corresponding transfer certificate of title. Mikaelo's defense of prescription cannot be sustained. A Torrens title is imprescriptible. No title to registered land in derogation of the title of the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession. (Sec. 47, P.D. No. 1529) The right to recover possession of registered land likewise does not prescribe because possession is just a necessary incident of ownership.

b) Mikaelo's defense of laches, however, appears to be more sustainable. Renren bought the land and had the sale registered way back in 1965. From the facts, it appears that it was only in 1998 or after an inexplicable delay of 33 years that he took the first step asserting his right to the land. It was not even an action to recover ownership but only possession of the land. By ordinary standards, 33 years of neglect or inaction is too long and may be considered unreasonable. As often held by the Supreme Court, the principle of imprescriptibly sometimes has to yield to the equitable principle of laches which can convert even a registered landowner's claim into a stale demand. Mikaelo's claim of laches, however, is weak insofar as the element of equity is concerned, there being no showing in the facts how he entered into the ownership and possession of the land.

At this point in time, X cannot claim the right of vested ownership over the Pangasinan parcel by acquisitive prescription. In addition to the requisites common to ordinary and extraordinary acquisitive prescription consisting of uninterrupted, peaceful, public, adverse and actual possession in the concept of owner, ordinary acquisitive prescription for ten (10) years requires (1) possession in good faith and (2) just title. "Just title" means that the adverse claimant came into possession of the property through one of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership but the grantor was not the owner or could not transmit any right. (Art.1129) In this case, there is no "just title" and no "mode" that can be invoked by X for the acquisition of the Pangasinan parcel. There was no constructive delivery of the Pangasinan parcel because it was not the subject-matter of the deed of sale. Hence, B retains ownership of the Pangasinan parcel of land.

Josef owns the interest earned.  Interest, which is a civil fruit, follows the owner of the principal. Here, Josef owns the deposited amount since upon deposit of the just compensation, it automatically belongs to the owner of the property expropriated.  Hence, Josef, as the owner of the just compensation deposited, is also entitled to the interest earned thereon. (Republic v. Holy Trinity Realty Dev’t Corp., G.R. No. 172410, 2008)

NOTE: In the case of NPC v. Heirs of Ramoran (G.R. No.  193455, 2016), the Court ruled that the imposable rate of interest is 12% per annum from the time of the taking until June 30, 2013, and 6% per annum from July 1, 2013 until full payment.

1. An action for reconveyance against Huey is not the proper remedy, because Huey is an innocent purchaser for value. The proper recourse is for Louie to go after Dewey for damages by reason of the fraudulent registration and subsequent sale of the land. If Dewey is insolvent, Louie may file a claim against the Assurance Fund. (Heirs of Pedro Lopez v. De Castro, G.R. No. 112905, February 3, 2000 citing Sps. Eduarte v. CA, G.R. No. 105944, February 9, 1996)

2. Yes, the remedy will prosper because the action prescribes in ten (10) years, not within one (1) year when a petition for the reopening of the registration decree may be filed. The action for reconveyance is distinct from the petition to reopen the decree of registration. (Grey Alba v. De la Cruz, G.R. No. 5246, September 16, 1910) There is no need to reopen the registration proceedings, but the property should just be reconveyed to the real owner. The action for reconveyance is based on implied or constructive trust, which prescribes in ten (10) years from the date of issuance of the original certificate of title. This rule assumes that the defendant is in possession of the land. Where it is the plaintiff who is in possession of the land, the action for reconveyance would be in the nature of a suit for quieting for the title which action is imprescriptible. (David v. Malay, G.R. No. 132644, November 19, 1999)

The essential elements are: (1) that the petitioner has a real or dominical right; (2) that he has been deprived thereof through fraud; (3) that the petition is filed within one (1) year from the issuance of the decree; and (4) that the property has not yet been transferred to an innocent purchaser. (Rublico vs. Orellana, G.R. No. L-26582, November 28, 1969; Libudan vs. Palma Gil, G.R. No. L-21163, May 17, 1972)