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Lim Tay vs.

Court of Appeals

[GR 126891, 5 August 1998]

Facts: On 8 January 1980, Sy Guiok secured a loan from Lim Tay in the amount of P40,000
payable within 6 months. To secure the payment of the aforesaid loan and interest thereon,
Guiok executed a Contract of Pledge in favor of Lim Tay whereby he pledged his 300 shares of
stock in the Go Fay & Company Inc. Guiok obliged himself to pay interest on said loan at the
rate of 10% per annum from the date of said contract of pledge. On the same date, Alfonso Sy
Lim secured a loan, from Lim Tay in the amount of P40,000 payable in 6 months. To secure the
payment of his loan, Sy Lim executed a "Contract of Pledge" covering his 300 shares of stock in
Go Fay & Co. Under said contract, Sy Lim obliged himself to pay interest on his loan at the rate
of 10% per annum from the date of the execution of said contract. The contractual stipulation in
the pledge showed that Lim Tay was merely authorized to foreclose the pledge upon maturity of
the loans, not to own them. Such foreclosure is not automatic, for it must be done in a public or
private sale. Guiok and Sy Lim endorsed their respective shares of stock in blank and delivered
the same to Lim Tay. However, Guiok and Sy Lim failed to pay their respective loans and the
accrued interests thereon to Lim Tay. In October 1990, Lim Tay filed a "Petition for Mandamus"
against Go Fay & Co., with the SEC (SEC Case 03894), praying that an order be issued
directing the corporate secretary of Go Fay & Co. to register the stock transfers and issue new
certificates in favor of Lim Tay; and ordering Go Fay & Co. to pay all dividends due and
unclaimed on the said certificates to Lim Tay. In the interim, Sy Lim died. Guiok and the
Intestate Estate of Alfonso Sy Lim, represented by Conchita Lim, filed their Answer-In-
Intervention with the SEC.

After due proceedings, the SEC hearing officer promulgated a Decision dismissing Lim Tay's
Complaint on the ground that although the SEC had jurisdiction over the action, pursuant to the
Decision of the Supreme Court in the case of "Rural Bank of Salinas et. al. versus Court of
Appeals, et al., 210 SCRA 510," he failed to prove the legal basis for the secretary of the
Corporation to be compelled to register stock transfers in favor of Lim Tay and to issue new
certificates of stock under his name. Lim Tay appealed the Decision of the hearing officer to the
SEC, but, on 7 March 1996, the SEC promulgated a Decision, dismissing Lim Tay's appeal. On
appeal to the Court of Appeals, the appellate court debunked Lim Tay's claim that he had
acquired ownership over the shares by virtue of novation, holding that Guiok's and Sy Lim's
indorsement and delivery of the shares were pursuant to Articles 2093 and 2095 of the Civil
Code and that Lim Tay's receipt of dividends was in compliance with Article 2102 of the same
Code. Lim Tay's claim that he had acquired ownership of the shares by virtue of prescription
was likewise dismissed by the appellate court. Lim Tay brought before the Supreme Court a
Petition for Review on Certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
Issue: Whether Lim Tay is the owner of the shares previously subjected to pledge, for him to
cause the registration of said shares in his own name.

Held: Lim Tay's ownership over the shares was not yet perfected when the Complaint was filed.
The contract of pledge certainly does not make him the owner of the shares pledged. Further,
whether prescription effectively transferred ownership of the shares, whether there was a
novation of the contracts of pledge, and whether laches had set in were difficult legal issues,
which were unpleaded and unresolved when Lim Tay asked the corporate secretary of Go Fay
to effect the transfer, in his favor, of the shares pledged to him. Lim Tay has failed to establish a
clear legal right. Lim Tay's contention that he is the owner of the said shares is completely
without merit. Lim Tay does not have any ownership rights at all. At the time Lim Tay instituted
his suit at the SEC, his ownership claim had no prima facie leg to stand on. At best, his
contention was disputable and uncertain. Lim Tay cannot claim to have acquired ownership
over the certificates of stock through extraordinary prescription, as provided for in Article 1132 of
the Civil Code. What is required by Article 1132 is possession in the concept of an owner.
Herein, Lim Tay's possession of the stock certificates came about because they were delivered
to him pursuant to the contracts of pledge. His possession as a pledgee cannot ripen into
ownership by prescription. Lim Tay expressly repudiated the pledge, only when he filed his
Complaint and claimed that he was not a mere pledgee, but that he was already the owner of
the shares. Based on the foregoing, Lim Tay has not acquired the certificates of stock through
extraordinary prescription. Neither did Lim Tay acquire the shares by virtue of a novation of the
contract of pledge. Novation cannot be presumed by Guiok's and Sy Lim's indorsement and
delivery of the certificates of stock covering the 600 shares, nor Lim Tay's receipt of dividends
from 1980 to 1983, nor the fact that Guiok and Sy Lim have not instituted any action to recover
the shares since 1980. Novation is never presumed inferred.