Legal Doctrines

We’ve compiled legal doctrines enunciated in the decisions of the Supreme Court in different areas of the law. 

CIVIL LAW: REFORMATION OF WRITTEN INSTRUMENTS; DEFINED

Reformation of an instrument is that remedy in equity by means of which a written instrument is made or construed so as to express or conform to the real intention of the parties when some error or mistake has been committed. It is predicated on the equitable maxim that equity treats as done that which ought to be done. The rationale of the doctrine is that it would be unjust and unequitable to allow the enforcement of a written instrument which does not reflect or disclose the real meeting of the minds of the parties. However, an action for reformation must be brought within the period prescribed by law, otherwise, it will be barred by the mere lapse of time.

CRIMINAL LAW: DEFENSE OF INSANITY; BURDEN ON DEFENSE; MERE ABNORMALITY DOES NOT PRECLUDE IMPUTABILITY

The defense of insanity is in the nature of confession and avoidance.  Like the justifying circumstance of self-defense, the burden is on the defense to prove beyond reasonable doubt that accused-appellant was insane immediately before the commission of the crime or at the very moment of its execution. In other words, a defendant in a criminal case who interposes the defense of mental incapacity has the burden of establishing the fact that he was insane at the very moment when the crime committed. There must be complete deprivation of reason in the commission of the act, or that the accused acted without discernment, which must be proven by clear and positive evidence. The mere abnormality of his mental faculties does not preclude imputability. Indeed, a man may act crazy but it does not necessarily and conclusively prove that he is legally so. The non-medical opinion of defense counsel that accused-appellant was bordering on insanity hardly measures up to the foregoing yardsticks.  In the light of the positive testimony of the victim proving accused-appellant_s criminal accountability, this bare and unsubstantiated defense must perforce fail.

REMEDIAL LAW: WRIT OF MANDAMUS; PRINCIPAL FUNCTION; WHEN ISSUED

In order that a writ of mandamus may aptly issue, it is essential that, on the one hand, the person petitioning for it has a clear legal right to the claim that is sought and that, on the other hand, the respondent has an imperative duty to perform that which is demanded of him. Mandamus will not issue to enforce a right, or to compel compliance with a duty, which is questionable or over which a substantial doubt exists.  The principal function of the writ of mandamus is to command and to expedite, not to inquire and to adjudicate; thus, it is neither the office nor the aim of the writ to secure a legal right but to implement that which is already established.  Unless the right to the relief sought is unclouded, mandamus will not issue.

LABOR LAW: EMPLOYER’S RIGHT TO CONDUCT THE AFFAIRS OF HIS BUSINESS; CRITERION TO GUIDE EXERCISE OF MANAGEMENT PREROGATIVE

The employer_s right to conduct the affairs of his business, according to its own discretion and judgment, is well-recognized.  An employer has a free reign and enjoys wide latitude of discretion to regulate all aspects of employment, including the prerogative to instill discipline in its employees and to impose penalties, including  dismissal, upon  erring employees.  This is a management prerogative, where the free will of management to conduct its own affairs to achieve its purpose takes form.  The only criterion to guide the exercise of its management prerogative is that the policies, rules and regulations on work-related activities of the employees must always be fair and reasonable and the corresponding penalties, when prescribed, commensurate to the offense involved and to the degree of the infraction.

COMMERCIAL LAW: INSURANCE; INSURABLE INTEREST IN PROPERTY

It has also been held that the test of insurable interest in property is whether the assured has a right, title or interest therein that he will be benefited by its preservation and continued existence or suffer a direct pecuniary loss from its destruction or injury by the peril insured against. If the defendants were to be regarded as only a lessee, logically the lessor who asserts ownership will be the one directly benefited or injured and therefore the lessee is not supposed to be the assured as he has no insurable interest.

 

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