Thursday, April 17, 2008

Robberies and fortuitous events

Q: Can robbery be considered a fortuitous event?

If you've studied you Oblicon well, the answer should come automatically. Otherwise, it is the type of question that will make you hesitate. It's one of those confusing questions, because a fortuitous event is usually associated with an act of God. Therefore, if a fortuitous event is an act of God, can the cause be due to a human act, like robbery for instance?

The answer of course is yes. The pertinent provision, Article 1174 of the Civil Code, provides:
Except in cases expressly specified by the law, or when it is otherwise declared by stipulation, or when the nature of the obligation requires the assumption of risk, no person shall be responsible for those events which could not be foreseen, or which, though foreseen, were inevitable.
Nowhere in Article 1174 does it say that the event must be an act of God. All it says is that the event could no be foreseen or is inevitable. In Southeastern College v. CA, The Supreme Court held that fortuitous events may be produced by two general causes: (1) by nature, such as earthquakes, storms, floods, epidemics, fires, etc. and (2) by the act of man, such as an armed invasion, attack by bandits, governmental prohibitions, robbery, etc.

In De Guzman v. CA, it was ruled that a common carrier is not responsible for goods lost as a result of a robbery which is attended by grave or irresistable threat, violence, or force.

But it must be borne in mind that the four elements of fortuitous event must concur, namely:
(a) the cause of the unforeseen and unexpected occurrence or of the failure of the debtor to comply with obligations must be independent of human will;

(b) it must be impossible to foresee the event that constitutes the caso fortuito or, if it can be foreseen, it must be impossible to avoid;

(c) the occurrence must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill obligations in a normal manner; and

(d) the obligor must be free from any participation in the aggravation of the injury or loss.
See Sicam v. Jorge for an illustration.


  1. I don't agree..and so does the Supreme Court. Robbery is not a fortuitous event. Read Sicam v. Jorge that you have just cited.

  2. Thanks for the comment. It's good to know that someone actually reads my blog.

    In Sicam, the four requisites were not complied with. That's why it was said there that carnapping is not per se a fortuitous event. But the case does not say that carnapping or robbery can never be a fortuitous event.

  3. Carnapping per se cannot be considered as a fortuitous event. The fact that a thing was unlawfully and forcefully taken from another·s rightful possession, as in cases of carnapping, does no automatically give rise to a fortuitous event. To be considered as such, carnapping entails morethan the mere forceful taking of another·s property. It must be proved and established that the event was an act of God or was done solely by third parties and that neither the claimant nor the person alleged to be negligent has any participation.

  4. pawnshops are imbued with public interest. Robbery per se can be forseeable and inevitable in the case sicam v. jorge


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