Oil and Natural Gas vs CA
293 SCRA 96 [GR No. 114323 July 23, 1998]
Facts: The petitioner is a foreign corporation owned and controlled by the Government of India while the private respondent is a private corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines. The present conflict between the petitioner and the private respondent has its roots in a contract entered into by and between both parties on February 26, 1983 whereby the private respondent undertook to supply the petitioner FOUR THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED (4,300) metric tons of oil well cement. In consideration therefor, the petitioner bound itself to pay the private respondent the amount of FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED U.S. DOLLARS ($477,300.00) by opening an irrevocable, divisible, and confirmed letter of credit in favor of the latter. The oil well cement was loaded on board the ship MV SURUTANA NAVA at the port of Surigao City, Philippines for delivery at Bombay and Calcutta, India. However, due to a dispute between the shipowner and the private respondent, the cargo was held up in Bangkok and did not reach its point destination. Notwithstanding the fact that the private respondent had already received payment and despite several demands made by the petitioner, the private respondent failed to deliver the oil well cement. Thereafter, negotiations ensued between the parties and they agreed that the private respondent will replace the entire 4,300 metric tons of oil well cement with Class “G” cement cost free at the petitioner’s designated port. However, upon inspection, the Class “G” cement did not conform to the petitioner’s specifications. The petitioner then informed the private respondent that it was referring its claim to an arbitrator pursuant to Clause 16 of their contract. On July 23, 1988, the chosen arbitrator, one Shri N.N. Malhotra, resolved the dispute in petitioner’s favor setting forth the arbitral award. Without responding to the above communication, the foreign court refused to admit the private respondent’s objections for failure to pay the required filing fees, and thereafter issued an Order on February 7, 1990.
Issue: Whether or not the foreign judgement may be enforced within the Philippines.
Held: Yes. Furthermore, the recognition to be accorded a foreign judgment is not necessarily affected by the fact that the procedure in the courts of the country in which such judgment was rendered differs from that of the courts of the country in which the judgment is relied on. This Court has held that matters of remedy and procedure are governed by the lex fori or the internal law of the forum. Thus, if under the procedural rules of the Civil Court of Dehra Dun, India, a valid judgment may be rendered by adopting the arbitrator’s findings, then the same must be accorded respect. In the same vein, if the procedure in the foreign court mandates that an Order of the Court becomes final and executory upon failure to pay the necessary docket fees, then the courts in this jurisdiction cannot invalidate the order of the foreign court simply because our rules provide otherwise.
The private respondent claims that its right to due process had been blatantly violated, first by reason of the fact that the foreign court never answered its queries as to the amount of docket fees to be paid then refused to admit its objections for failure to pay the same, and second, because of the presumed bias on the part of the arbitrator who was a former employee of the petitioner.
Time and again this Court has held that the essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of one’s defense or stated otherwise, what is repugnant to due process is the denial of opportunity to be heard. Thus, there is no violation of due process even if no hearing was conducted, where the party was given a chance to explain his side of the controversy and he waived his right to do so.
In the instant case, the private respondent does not deny the fact that it was notified by the foreign court to file its objections to the petition, and subsequently, to pay legal fees in order for its objections to be given consideration. Instead of paying the legal fees, however, the private respondent sent a communication to the foreign court inquiring about the correct amount of fees to be paid. On the pretext that it was yet awaiting the foreign court’s reply, almost a year passed without the private respondent paying the legal fees. Thus, on February 2, 1990, the foreign court rejected the objections of the private respondent and proceeded to adjudicate upon the petitioner’s claims. We cannot subscribe to the private respondent’s claim that the foreign court violated its right to due process when it failed to reply to its queries nor when the latter rejected its objections for a clearly meritorious ground. The private respondent was afforded sufficient opportunity to be heard. It was not incumbent upon the foreign court to reply to the private respondent’s written communication. On the contrary, a genuine concern for its cause should have prompted the private respondent to ascertain with all due diligence the correct amount of legal fees to be paid. The private respondent did not act with prudence and diligence thus its plea that they were not accorded the right to procedural due process cannot elicit either approval or sympathy from this Court.
The foreign judgment being valid, there is nothing else left to be done than to order its enforcement, despite the fact that the petitioner merely prays for the remand of the case to the RTC for further proceedings. As this Court has ruled on the validity and enforceability of the said foreign judgment in this jurisdiction, further proceedings in the RTC for the reception of evidence to prove otherwise are no longer necessary.