Western Agro vs CA (188 SCRA 709)

Western Agro Industrial Corporation vs Court of Appeals
188 SCRA 709 [GR No. 82558 August 20, 1990]

Facts: On June 6,1983 respondent SIA Automotive and Diesel Parts, Inc. filed with the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City a complaint for sum of money and damages against petitioners Western Agro Industrial Corporation and/or Antonio Rodriguez. The complaint alleged that WESGRO is doing business through Antonio Rodriguez and on different occasions in 1980, 1981, and 1982, Rodriguez representing WESGRO bought on credit different automotive spare parts from private respondent amounting to Php100,753.80; that the unpaid amount has long become over due and yet the petitioners refused to pay despite repeated demands. The complaint prayed among others that the defendants jointly and severally pay the plaintiff: a.) the principal sum of Php100,753.80 plus legal interest and the sum equivalent to 25% in the form of attorney’s fees as stipulated in the invoices covering the accounts. In its answer with counterclaim, WESGRO admitted that it bought on credit various automotive spare parts from the respondent corporation on different occasions in 1980, 1981 and 1982, represented by Antonio Rodriguez but denied that its total obligations was Php100,753.80. WESGRO alleged that this amount is bloated because it had already made various payments on different dates. Parties agreed that the defendant WESGRO ordered from the plaintiff, automotive spare parts which have not been paid. Payment was agreed by WESGRO and SIA that the defendant agreed to pay the plaintiff the sum of Php85,000 more or less. The only question now remaining in litigation is the remaining sum of Php15,000 more or less.

Issue: Whether or not officers and members of petitioner company can be held liable for the balance of the said obligation.

Held: No. Contracts entered into by the authorized officers or agents of a corporation are contracts of the corporation as distinct entity, yet the admission of appellant Rodriguez that he represented the corporation on different occasions in 1980, 1981, and 1982 and by reason of his representation defendant WESGRO bough on credit spare parts amounting to Php100,000 more or less, laid the basis for impleading him. The court a quo was correct to include him as a proper party to arrive at a judicious adjudication on the matter.

It is significant to note that SIA never questioned the legal personality of WESGRO. Hence, we can assume that WESGRO is a bona fide corporation. Therefore, as a bona fide corporation, WESGRO should alone be liable for its corporate acts as duly authorized by its officers and directors. This is so, because a corporation is invested by law with a separate personality, separate and distinct from that of the persons composing it as well as from any other legal entity to which it may be related. A corporation is an artificial person and can transact its business only through its officers or agents. Necessarily, somebody has to act for it. The separate personality of the corporation may be disregarded, or the veil of corporate fiction pierced and the individual stockholders may be personally liable to obligations of the corporation only when the corporation is used as a cloak or cover for fraud or illegality, or to work on injustice, on where necessary to achieve equity or when necessary for the protection of creditors.

In the case at bar, there is no showing that Antonio Rodriguez, a director and officer of WESGRO was not authorized by the corporation to enter into purchase contracts with SIA. Moreover, the respondent corporation has not shown any circumstances which would necessitate the piercing of the corporate veil so as to make Rodriguez personally liable for the obligations incurred by the petitioner. Hence, the inevitable conclusion is that he was acting in behalf of the corporation when he executed the purchase contracts with the respondent corporation. In other words, Rodriguez acts in representing the petitioner corporation in its dealings with the respondent corporation are corporate acts for which only the corporation should be made liable for any obligations arising from them.

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