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Yu Con vs.

Ipil |

Yu Con chartered the banca “Maria” – owned by petitioner Lauron with Gilcerio Ipil (Ipil) as its master and
Solamo as it supercargo – to transport certain merchandise and money from the port of Cebu to Catmon.
Yu Con loaded the merchandise and delivered the money, placed in a trunk, to Ipil and Solamo.
Allegedly because there was no more room for Yu Con’s trunk, Ipil and Solamo transferred the money to
their own trunk in the stateroom.
Before the ship could sail, the trunk and the money placed therein disappeared.

Issue:

Are the petitioners liable? YES.

Held:

It is therefore beyond all doubt that the loss of the money occurred through the manifest fault and
negligence of Ipil and Solamo.
They failed to take the necessary precautions in order that the stateroom containing the trunk in
which they kept the money should be properly guarded by members of the crew and they also did
not expressly station some person inside the stateroom for the guarding and safe-keeping of the
trunk.
All of these circumstances, together with that of its having been impossible to know who took the
trunk and the money, make the conduct of Ipil, Solamo, and the other crew members eminently
supicious and prevent our holding that the disappearance or loss of the money was due to a
fortuitous event, to force majeure.
Ipil and Solamo were depositaries of the sum in question and, having failed to exercise the diligence
required by the nature of the obligation of safe-keeping assumed by them and by the circumstances of
the time and the place, it is evident that they are liable for its loss or misplacement and must restore it.
With respect to Lauron, he is also liable in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Commerce in
force because, as the proprietor and owner of the vessel who executed a contract of carriage with Yu
Con, there occurred the loss, theft, or robbery of the P450 that belonged to Yu Con through the
negligence of Ipil and Solamo and which theft does not appear to have been committed by a person
not belonging to the craft.
The old Code of Commerce absolved the shipowner from liability for the negligence of the captain and
its crew but, in the light of the principles of modern law, this doctrine on the non-liability of the
shipowner for the unlawful acts, crimes or quasi crimes, committed by the captain and the crew can no
longer be maintained in its absolute and categorical terms.
In maritime commerce, the shippers and passengers in making contracts with the captain do so
through the confidence they have in the shipowner who appointed him; they presume that the
owner made a most careful investigation before appointing him, and, above all, they themselves
are unable to make such an investigation, and even though they should do so, they could not
obtain complete security, inasmuch as the shipowner can, whenever he sees fit, appoint another
captain instead.
Thus, it is only proper that the shipowner should be made liable.