FACTS:

This case involves the liability of the defendant, a former resident of the State of California, now residing in the Philippine Islands, for obligations contracted by a California corporation of which he was a stockholder at the time said obligations were contracted with the plaintiff-appellee in this case.

The section of the Civil Code of California under which the plaintiff seeks to recover reads:

“SEC. 322. Each stockholder of a corporation is individually and personally liable for such proportion of all its debts and liabilities contracted or incurred during the time he was a stockholder as the amount of stock or shares owned by him bears to the whole of the subscribed capital stock or shares of the corporation. Any creditor of the corporation may institute joint or several actions against any of its stockholders, for the proportion of his claim payable by each, and in such action the court must (1) ascertain the proportion of the claim or debt for which each defendant is liable, and (2) a several judgment must be rendered against each, in conformity therewith. If any stockholder pays his proportion of any debt due from the corporation, incurred while he was such stockholder, he is relieved from any further personal liability for such debt, and if an action has been brought against him upon such debt, it must be dismissed, as to him, upon his paying the costs, or such proportion thereof as may be properly chargeable against him. The liability of each stockholder is determined by the amount of stock or shares owned by him at the time the debt or liability was incurred; and such liability is not released by any subsequent transfer of stock.”

Judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiff, ordering the defendant, for the first cause of action, to pay to plaintiff the sum of P2,837.34, with interest; and to pay also the amount of P1,590.63, for the second cause of action, with interest. The defendant is further ordered to pay the amount of P500 as reasonable attorney’s fees in prosecuting this action, and to pay the costs of these proceedings.”

ISSUE:

Whether or not the lower court erred in finding that plaintiff has proven the existence of the foreign law involved in this action. 

HELD: 

NO. Section 25, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court does not exclude the presentation of other competent evidence to prove the existence of a foreign law. In the case at bar, the Supreme Court considered the testimony under oath of an attorney-at-law of San Francisco, California, who quoted verbatim a section of California Civil Code and who stated that the same was in force at the time the obligations were contracted, as sufficient evidence to establish the existence of said law. Mr. Arthur W. Bolton, an attorney-at-law of San Francisco, California, since the year 1918, under oath, quoted verbatim section 322 of the California Civil Code and stated that said section was in force at the time the obligations of the defendant to the plaintiff were incurred, i. e., on November 5, 1928 and December 22, 1928. This evidence sufficiently established the fact that the section in question was the law of the State of California on the above dates. A reading of sections 300 and 301 of our Code of Civil Procedure will convince one that these sections do not exclude the presentation of other competent evidence to prove the existence of a foreign law.

“The foreign law is a matter of fact . . . You ask the witness what the law is; he may from his recollection, or on producing and referring to books, say what it is.” (Lord Campbell concurring in an opinion of Lord Chief Justice Denman in a well known English case where a witness was called upon to prove the Roman laws of marriage and was permitted to testify, though he referred to a book containing the decrees of the Council of Trent as controlling, Jones on Evidence, Section Edition, Volume 4, pages 3148-3152.) Aside from the testimony of Attorney Bolton Ragland’s Annotated Civil Code of California was presented as evidence. This book contains that State’s Civil Code as adopted March 21, 1872, with the subsequent official statute amendments to and including the year 1929.

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