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Case Digest on Bitong vs. CA (292 SCRA 503)

July 27, 2010

Bitong vs. CA [292 SCRA 503 (July 13 1998)]
Ownership of Corporate Shares/ Stock Certificates:  Valid Issuance

Facts:  Bitong was the treasurer and member of the BoD of Mr. & Mrs. Corporation.  She filed a complaint with the SEC to hold respondent spouses Apostol liable for fraud, misrepresentation, disloyalty, evident bad faith, conflict of interest and mismanagement in directing the affairs of the corporation to the prejudice of the stockholders.  She alleges that certain transactions entered into by the corporation were not supported by any stockholder’s resolution.
The complaint sought to enjoin Apostol from further acting as president-director of the corporation and from disbursing any money or funds.  Apostol contends that Bitong was merely a holder-in-trust of the JAKA shares of the corporation, hence, not entitled to the relief she prays for.  SEC Hearing Panel issued a writ enjoining Apostol.
After hearing the evidence, SEC Hearing Panel dissolved the writ and dismissed the complaint filed by Bitong.  Bitong appealed to the SEC en banc.  The latter reversed SEC Hearing Panel decision.  Apostol filed petition for review with the CA.  CA reversed SEC en banc ruling holding that Bitong was not the owner of any share of stock in the corporation and therefore, not a real party in interest to prosecute the complaint.  Hence, this petition with the SC.

Issue:  Whether or not Bitong was the real party in interest.

Held:  Based on the evidence presented, it could be gleaned that Bitong was not a bona fide stockholder of the corporation.  Several corporate documents disclose that the true party in interest was JAKA.
Although her buying of the shares were recorded in the Stock and Transfer Book of the corporation, and as provided by Sec. 63 of the Corp Code that no transfer shall be valid except as between the parties until the transfer is recorded in the books of the corporation, and upon its recording the corporation is bound by it and is estopped to deny the fact of transfer of said shares, this provision is not conclusive even against the corporation but are prima facie evidence only.  Parol evidence may be admitted to supply the omissions in the records, explain ambiguities, or show what transpired where no records were kept, or in some cases where such records were contradicted.  Besides, the provision envisions a formal certificate of stock which can be issued only upon compliance with certain requisites:  (1)  certificates must be signed by the president or vice president, countersigned by the secretary or assistant secretary, and sealed with the seal of the corporation, (2)  delivery of the certificate; (3) the par value, as to par value shares, or the full subscription as to no par value shares, must be first fully paid; (4) the original certificate must be surrendered where the person requesting the issuance of a certificate is a transferee from a stockholder.
These considerations are founded on the basic principle that stock issued without authority and in violation of the law is void and confers no rights on the person to whom it is issued and subjects him to no liabilities.  Where there is an inherent lack of power in the corporation to issue the stock, neither the corporation nor the person to whom the stock is issued is estopped to question its validity since an estoppel cannot operate to create stock which under the law cannot have existence.

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