Expertravel & Tours Inc. vs CA (GR No. 152392 May 26, 2005)

Expertravel & Tours Inc. vs Court of Appeals
GR No. 152392 May 26, 2005

Facts: Korean Airlines (KAL) is a corporation established and registered in the Republic of South Korea and licensed to do business in the Philippines. Its general manager in the Philippines is Suk Kyoo Kim, while its appointed counsel was Atty. Mario Aguinaldo and his law firm. On September 6, 1999, KAL, through Atty. Aguinaldo, filed a Complaint against ETI with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, for the collection of the principal amount of P 260,150.00, plus attorney’s fees and exemplary damages. The verification and certification against forum shopping was signed by Atty. Aguinaldo, who indicated therein that he was the resident agent and legal counsel of KAL and had caused the preparation of the complaint. ETI filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Atty. Aguinaldo was not authorized to execute the verification and certificate of non-forum shopping as required by Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court. KAL opposed the motion, contending that Atty. Aguinaldo was its resident agent and was registered as such with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as required by the Corporation Code of the Philippines. It was further alleged that Atty. Aguinaldo was also the corporate secretary of KAL. Appended to the said opposition was the identification card of Atty. Aguinaldo, showing that he was the lawyer of KAL. During the hearing of January 28, 2000, Atty. Aguinaldo claimed that he had been authorized to file the complaint through a resolution of the KAL Board of Directors approved during a special meeting held on June 25, 1999. Upon his motion, KAL was given a period of 10 days within which to submit a copy of the said resolution. The trial court granted the motion. Atty. Aguinaldo subsequently filed other similar motions, which the trial court granted. Finally, KAL submitted on March 6, 2000 an Affidavit of even date, executed by its general manager Suk Kyoo Kim, alleging that the board of directors conducted a special teleconference on June 25, 1999, which he and Atty. Aguinaldo attended. It was also averred that in that same teleconference, the board of directors approved a resolution authorizing Atty. Aguinaldo to execute the certificate of non-forum shopping and to file the complaint. Suk Kyoo Kim also alleged, however, that the corporation had no written copy of the aforesaid resolution.

Issue: Whether or not teleconferences should be taken as judicial notice.

Held: Yes. Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three material requisites: (1) the matter must be one of common and general knowledge; (2) it must be well and authoritatively settled and not doubtful or uncertain; and (3) it must be known to be within the limits of the jurisdiction of the court. The principal guide in determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially known is that of notoriety. Hence, it can be said that judicial notice is limited to facts evidenced by public records and facts of general notoriety. Moreover, a judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to a reasonable dispute in that it is either: (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court; or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resorting to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questionable.

Things of “common knowledge,” of which courts take judicial matters coming to the knowledge of men generally in the course of the ordinary experiences of life, or they may be matters which are generally accepted by mankind as true and are capable of ready and unquestioned demonstration. Thus, facts which are universally known, and which may be found in encyclopedias, dictionaries or other publications, are judicially noticed, provided, they are of such universal notoriety and so generally understood that they may be regarded as forming part of the common knowledge of every person. As the common knowledge of man ranges far and wide, a wide variety of particular facts have been judicially noticed as being matters of common knowledge. But a court cannot take judicial notice of any fact which, in part, is dependent on the existence or non-existence of a fact of which the court has no constructive knowledge.

In this age of modern technology, the courts may take judicial notice that business transactions may be made by individuals through teleconferencing. Teleconferencing is interactive group communication (three or more people in two or more locations) through an electronic medium. In general terms, teleconferencing can bring people together under one roof even though they are separated by hundreds of miles. This type of group communication may be used in a number of ways, and have three basic types: (1) video conferencing – television-like communication augmented with sound; (2) computer conferencing – printed communication through keyboard terminals, and (3) audio-conferencing-verbal communication via the telephone with optional capacity for telewriting or telecopying.

In the Philippines, teleconferencing and videoconferencing of members of board of directors of private corporations is a reality, in light of Republic Act No. 8792. The Securities and Exchange Commission issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15, on November 30, 2001, providing the guidelines to be complied with related to such conferences. Thus, the Court agrees with the RTC that persons in the Philippines may have a teleconference with a group of persons in South Korea relating to business transactions or corporate governance.

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