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G.R. No.

136888 June 29, 2005 The ocean tanker MT "TACHIBANA" unloaded the
cargo to Tanker Barge LB-1011 of respondent
PHILIPPINE CHARTER INSURANCE Chemoil Lighterage Corporation, which shall
CORPORATION, petitioner, transport the same to Del Pan Bridge in Pasig River.
vs. Tanker Barge LB-1011 would unload the cargo to
CHEMOIL LIGHTERAGE CORPORATION, tanker trucks, also owned by the respondent, and
respondent. haul it by land to PGP’s storage tanks in Calamba,
Laguna.
DECISION
Upon inspection by PGP, the samples taken from
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: the shipment showed discoloration from yellowish
to amber, demonstrating that it was damaged, as
Before Us is a petition for review on certiorari DOP is colorless and water clear. PGP then sent a
which assails the Decision of the Court of Appeals1 letter to the petitioner dated 18 February 19918
in CA-G.R. CV No. 56209, dated 18 December where it formally made an insurance claim for the
1998. The Decision reversed and set aside the loss it sustained due to the contamination.
decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),2 Branch
16, City of Manila, which ordered herein The petitioner requested an independent insurance
respondent to pay the petitioner’s claim in the adjuster, the GIT Insurance Adjusters, Inc. (GIT), to
amount of ₱5,000,000.00 with legal interest from conduct a Quantity and Condition Survey of the
the date of the filing of the complaint. shipment. On 22 February 1991, GIT issued a
Report,9 part of which states:
THE FACTS
As unloading progressed, it was observed on
Petitioner Philippine Charter Insurance Corporation February 14, 1991 that DOP samples taken were
is a domestic corporation engaged in the business of discolored from yellowish to amber. Inspection of
non-life insurance. Respondent Chemoil Lighterage cargo tanks showed manhole covers of ballast tanks’
Corporation is also a domestic corporation engaged ceilings loosely secured. Furthermore, it was noted
in the transport of goods. that the rubber gaskets of the manhole covers of the
ballast tanks re-acted to the chemical causing
On 24 January 1991, Samkyung Chemical shrinkage thus, loosening the covers and cargo
Company, Ltd., based in Ulsan, South Korea, ingress to the rusty ballast tanks…10
shipped 62.06 metric tons of the liquid chemical
DIOCTYL PHTHALATE (DOP) on board MT On 13 May 1991, the petitioner paid PGP the
"TACHIBANA" which was valued at amount of ₱5,000,000.0011 as full and final payment
US$90,201.57 under Bill of Lading No. ULS/MNL- for the loss. PGP issued a Subrogation Receipt to
13 and another 436.70 metric tons of DOP valued at the petitioner.
US$634,724.89 under Bill of Lading No.
ULS/MNL-24 to the Philippines. The consignee was Meanwhile, on 03 April 1991, PGP paid the
Plastic Group Phils., Inc. (PGP) in Manila. respondent the amount of ₱301,909.50 as full
payment for the latter’s services, as evidenced by
PGP insured the cargo with herein petitioner Official Receipt No. 1274.12
Philippine Charter Insurance Corporation against all
risks. The insurance was under Marine Policies No. On 15 July 1991, an action for damages was
MRN-307215 dated 06 February 1991 for instituted by the petitioner-insurer against
₱31,757,969.19 and No. MRN-307226 for respondent-carrier before the RTC, Branch 16, City
₱4,514,881.00. Marine Endorsement No. 27867 of Manila, docketed as Civil Case No. 91-57923.13
dated 11 May 1991 was attached and formed part of The petitioner prayed for actual damages in the
MRN-30721, amending the latter’s insured value to amount of ₱5,000,000.00, attorney’s fees in the
₱24,667,422.03, and reduced the premium amount of no less than ₱1,000,000.00, and costs of
accordingly. suit.

the surveyor/representative of A petition for review on certiorari20 was filed by the PGP.17 A telephone call Synthesized. no fault and negligence can be attributed against respondent as it exercised extraordinary THE APPELLATE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN diligence in handling the cargo.000. respondent admitted it undertook to transport the the dispositive portion of which reads: consignee’s shipment from MT "TACHIBANA" to the Del Pan Bridge. praying that the decision and found the same clean. Laguna. the trial court rendered a Decision on 06 January 1997.00 with legal interest from the date of the filing of the complaint. The entire loading and unloading of the shipment were also done under the control and supervision of After the respondent filed its Comment21 and the PGP’s surveyor/representative. The respondent one is entered dismissing the complaint. The promulgated its Decision reversing the trial court. ISSUES which is a condition precedent to the accrual of a right of action against the carrier. to one of the Vice Presidents of the respondent.15 FINDING THAT THE NOTICE OF CLAIM WAS NOT FILED WITHIN THE REQUIRED PERIOD.24 any notice. After due hearing. the issues that must be addressed by which was supposedly made by a certain Alfred this Court are: Chan. be free from any and all claims arising from contamination. dry. As I carrier. Adjustment Standard Corporation. inspected it petitioner with this Court. the decision appealed from is transferred to its tanker trucks for hauling to PGP’s hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE and a new storage tanks in Calamba.16 THE APPELLATE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN Aggrieved by the trial court’s decision.000. informing the latter of I the discoloration.An Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim14 was On 18 December 1998. the Court of Appeals filed by the respondent on 05 September 1991. The counterclaims are III DISMISSED. As subrogee. claim or protest within the period required by Article 366 of the Code of Commerce. Pasig River. P5. NOT HOLDING THAT DAMAGE TO THE judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff CARGO WAS DUE TO THE FAULT OR ordering defendant to pay plaintiff’s claim of NEGLIGENCE OF RESPONDENT CHEMOIL. is not the notice required by Article 366 of the Code of Commerce. . and that the cargo shall be insured by its The petitioner assigns as errors the following: owner sans recourse against all risks. this Court issued mentioned by the respondent that the contract a Resolution23 on 18 August 1999. an employee of PGP. the SETTING ASIDE THE TRIAL COURT’S respondent sought relief with the Court of Appeals DECISION AND IN DISMISSING THE where it alleged in the main that PGP failed to file COMPLAINT. the dispositive II portion of which reads: THE APPELLATE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN WHEREFORE. that the ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS consignee accepted the cargo without any protest or notice.19 alleged that before the DOP was loaded into its barge (LB-1011). of the trial court be affirmed.18 WHETHER OR NOT THE NOTICE OF CLAIM WAS FILED WITHIN THE REQUIRED PERIOD. loss of cargo or part thereof. It was also petitioner filed its Reply22 thereto. If the answer is in the affirmative. where it was WHEREFORE. giving due between it and PGP expressly stipulated that it shall course to the petition. and fit for loading. the petitioner was bound by this stipulation. PREMISES CONSIDERED.

the former allegedly said packages. make a verbal notice of claim that involves millions cannot be given great weight as no driver was of pesos. We do not agree. it must be pointed out that CARGO WAS DUE TO THE FAULT OR compliance with the period for filing notice is an NEGLIGENCE OF THE RESPONDENT. This provision of law immediately apparent. however. in which case said claim shall only holding that the period to file the notice had been be admitted at the time of the receipt of the complied with. were you in your plant site at the time constitute substantial compliance with the these various cargoes were delivered? requirement of notice considering that the notice . during to business practice for Alfredo Chan to merely the time that the delivery was actually being made. the Court of Appeals declared: Q: … . or otherwise within twenty- THE COURT’S RULINGS four hours from receipt of the goods. the petitioner contends that the the latter of the contamination. provided that the The petitioner is of the view that there was an indications of the damage or average giving rise to incongruity in the findings of facts of the trial court the claim cannot be ascertained from the exterior of and the Court of Appeals. and We are unable to find any proof of compliance with the required period. the The allegation of the petitioner that not only the latter’s testimony is purportedly more credible Vice President of the respondent was informed. However. nothing in notice of contamination was given by Alfredo Chan. which is fatal Art. Part of the testimony of Alfredo Chan is revealing: On this point.27 against the carrier on account of damage or average found upon opening the packages. Within twenty-four hours following the to the accrual of the right of action against the receipt of the merchandise a claim may be made carrier. i. On the matter concerning the After the periods mentioned have elapsed. but because it would be quite unbelievable and contrary also its drivers. by Ms. cargo. we cannot find a shred of evidence that will precisely The respondent. essential part of the requirement. . immediately if the damage is apparent. Between the testimonies of Alfredo Chan and Encarnacion Abastillas. who promptly replied that she will look WHETHER OR NOT THE DAMAGE TO THE into the matter. as testified by Alfredo Chan. 366. and therefore.26 presented to the witness stand to prove this. We have examined the imparts: evidence. a telephone call was made by Alfredo Chan to Encarnacion Abastillas. Witness. no claim 366 of the Code of Commerce. II was given to a responsible official. Both courts transported were delivered. the finding of fact of whatsoever shall be admitted against the carrier the Court of Appeals does not actually contradict with regard to the condition in which the goods the finding of fact of the trial court. Having examined the entire records of the case.25 The Court of Appeals made the same finding. while the latter held otherwise. We are inclined to sustain the view that a telephone call made to defendant-company could Mr. This was done by telephone. . held that. within the required period. indeed. the Vice- President. packages. the clear import being that prompt examination of the goods Article 366 of the Code of Commerce has profound must be made to ascertain damage if this is not application in the case at bar. informing As to the first issue. Encarnacion Abastillas.e. claim was relayed or filed with the respondent- Vice President for Administration and Operations of carrier immediately or within a period of twenty- the respondent. the trial court’s decision stated that the notice of an employee of PGP. or after giving of the notice of claim as required by Article the transportation charges have been paid. Abastillas. claims that the supposed and ultimately point to the conclusion that the notice given by PGP over the telephone was denied notice of claim was timely relayed or filed. However. to Ms.. at the time of the delivery of the four hours from the time the goods were received.

Code of Commerce is not an empty or worthless proviso.30 Q: So.28 reasonable condition precedent. As discussed at length above. The aforementioned requirement is a A: No. do you have a first hand knowledge that your plant representative informed the driver of the The filing of a claim with the carrier within the time alleged contamination? limitation therefore actually constitutes a condition precedent to the accrual of a right of action against a A: What do you mean by that? carrier for loss of. nature and extent of the alleged damages to the goods while the matter is still fresh in the minds of We do not believe so. This . in view of all the foregoing. we ruled. so that the carrier will be enabled to Commerce. protects the carrier by affording it an opportunity to make an investigation of a claim while the matter is … fresh and easily investigated so as to safeguard itself from false and fraudulent claims.29 there is no evidence to confirm that the notice of claim was filed within the period provided for under In another case. Petitioner’s contention proceeds from a false presupposition that More particularly. and to give it an opportunity toto. If it fails to do so. no saw them [notify] the driver? right of action against the carrier can accrue in favor of the former. the parties. as no claim may The requirement that a notice of claim should be similarly be admitted after the transportation filed within the period stated by Article 366 of the charges have been paid. But the petitioner is of the article is to compel the consignee of goods entrusted view that the payment for services does not to a carrier to make prompt demand for settlement invalidate its claim. it is clear that if notice or protest has verify all such claims at the time of delivery or been made prior to payment of services. contains a reasonable requirement of giving notice of loss of or injury to the goods.A: No. it is therefore unnecessary to make a or injury or the right to enforce the carrier’s resolution on the second issue. liability. to examine the nature and extent of the injury. and if necessary against the bad order condition of the cargo is fix responsibility and secure evidence as to the allowed. but reasonably to inform it that the December 1998. The fundamental reason or purpose of WHEREFORE.31 From the preceding testimony. the giving of such Considering that we have resolved the first issue in notice is a condition precedent to the action for loss the negative. In a case. as admitted The object sought to be attained by the requirement by the petitioner. the goods. there is no question that the transportation charges have been paid. the such a stipulation is not to relieve the carrier from Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 18 just liability. sir. No pronouncement as to costs. sir. it is quite palpable that the witness Alfredo Chan had no personal The second paragraph of Article 366 of the Code of knowledge that the drivers of the respondent were Commerce is also edifying. thus: Article 366 of the Code of Commerce. it does not constitute a limitation of action. It is not only when the informed of the contamination. and the corresponding official of the submission of claims in pursuance of this receipt32 duly issued. The shipper or consignee must allege and prove the Q: Personal knowledge [that] you yourself heard or fulfillment of the condition. It contends that under the of alleged damages suffered by the goods while in second paragraph of Article 366 of the Code of transport. is hereby AFFIRMED in with liability therefore. Such requirement is not an empty formalism. which reversed and set aside the shipment has been damaged and that it is charged decision of the trial court. or damage to. period to make a claim has elapsed that no claim whatsoever shall be admitted. claim within twenty-four hours thereafter. where the contract of shipment the notice of claim was timely filed. we held: In this case.