When we buy things, we would like to get the best value for our money. When we shop for the things we need, we spend time scrutinizing and testing the product before making the final decision to part with our hard earned money. While the seller aims to get the most money for his goods the buyer on the other hand would like to get the most for his money. The vendor then employs every technique available to convince people to buy his goods and the vendee would also exert much effort to strike a good bargain. Surely, the seller may entice potential buyers through his sales talk and some other ways but can there be instances when it can become deception?
Guinhawa vs. People
Jaime Guinhawa was in the business of selling brand new motor vehicles. He purchased an L-300 van from Manila intending to sell it on his store. On their way to Naga, the driver of the vehicle lost control and as a result it sustained some damage. Jaime had the vehicle repaired and displayed it in the showroom. Ralph and Josephine Silo who needed a motor vehicle for their business expressed their intention to buy the L-300 Van from Guinhawa. After some negotiation both parties agreed for the purchase on installment with a total amount of 591,000.00 pesos and a downpayment of 118, 200.00. The spouses being confident that the vehicle is brand new, no longer required a test drive or an inspection. Upon the signing of the necessary documents, the vehicle was turned over to the spouses. On their way home, the driver of the L-300 noticed some squeaking and had it checked by a mechanic who revealed to the spouses that some parts of the van have been freshly welded indicating that it might not be brand new as previously thought. The spouses subsequently filed a criminal case against Guinhawa under Art. 318 (Other Deceits) of the Revised Penal Code. After trial in the Municipal Trial Court, Guinhawa was found guilty and sentenced to 2 months and one day to 4 months and to pay actual, moral, exemplary damages, and attorneys fees. He appealed to the RTC, then to the Court of Appeals, then to the Supreme Court after subsequent denials.
Guinhawa Employed Deceit
Guinhawa’s argument is that the subject vehicle did not sustain any mechanical damage and that it never figured in any accident. The spouses were also given ample opportunity to inspect and test the van before purchase and that the supposed defects were only detected after they have used the vehicle for sometime. The SC sustained the findings of the lower courts. The vehicle was found to have sustained damages by reason of the accident. While it may be true that Guinhawa did not personally attend to the couple when they were in the showroom, he gave the user’s manual which warrants the vehicle to be brand new. The buyers also believed that the vehicle was brand new since it was in a showroom of brand new vehicles. Being the seller, Guinhawa was duty bound to inform potential buyers that the L-300 was not brand new. “It is true that mere silence is not in itself concealment. Concealment which the law denounces as fraudulent implies a purpose or design to hide facts which the other party sought to know. Failure to reveal a fact which the seller is, in good faith, bound to disclose may generally be classified as a deceptive act due to its inherent capacity to deceive. Suppression of a material fact which a party is bound in good faith to disclose is equivalent to a false representation. Moreover, a representation is not confined to words or positive assertions; it may consist as well of deeds, acts or artifacts of a nature calculated to mislead another and thus allow the fraud-feasor to obtain an undue advantage