Lex Rex Ph

Laches

Is the failure to assert a right or neglect to exercise due diligence for an unreasonable length of time.

Also called “estoppel by laches” is the negligence or omission to assert a right with a a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. – Pajarillo vs. IAC

Such failure warrants the presumption that the person has abandoned his right. Estoppel by laches is necessary to avoid injustice in our society. – Eloy Imperial vs. CA

A real-case example of laches:

  • Leoncio, donated land to his natural son, Eloy. Donor died January 1962
  • The subsequently-adopted son, Victor, died 15 years later. Victor did not contest the donation of his deceased father to Eloy, the natural son. His participation in the execution of the sale in favor of Eloy is not renunciation of his inheritance and estoppel. He was a lawyer, he was aware of what estoppel is.
  • His sole heir Ricardo Villalon, died 4 years later – was a lessee of a portion of donated property. He could have commenced an action as sole heir of Leoncio’s natural son, Eloy. An ejectment case was filed against Ricardo (by Eloy?). At least, should have raised the matter of legitime by way of counterclaim.
  • Private respondents in this case (heirs of Ricardo) took 5 years before they filed a complaint with the RTC.

Supreme Court said: This is an example of Estoppel by laches. Estoppel by laches is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable or unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, warranting a presumption that the person has abandoned his right or declined to assert it. We find the necessity for the application of the principle of estoppel by laches in this case, in order to avoid an injustice.

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