Release and Quitclaim Document is Not Voided By the Fact that it was Improperly Notarized

Release and quitclaim document that is improperly notarized cannot be voided when the execution was voluntarily done.

The post below has the same facts with the other posts to emphasize the ruling of the court on various important issues based on the same sets of facts.

Thus, the SC held:

Luis S. Doble, Jr. vs. ABB, Inc./Nitin Desal
G.R. No. 215627, June 5, 2017


Luis S. Doble, Jr. (Doble), was initially hired by respondent ABB, Inc. as Junior Design Engineer. During almost nineteen (19) years of his employment with the respondent ABB, Doble rose through the ranks and promoted until he became Vice-President and Local Division Manager of Power System Division, the last position he held at the time of his dismissal.

Learn how to validly dismiss employees: Guide to Valid Dismissal of Employees Second Edition

As a matter of policy, ABB, Inc. conducts the yearly Performance and Development Appraisal of all its employees. On March 2, 2012, Doble was called by respondent ABB, Inc. Country Manager and President Nitin Desai, and was informed that his performance rating for 2011 is one (1) which is equivalent to unsatisfactory performance.

Subsequently, a company Executive Assistant informed Doble that he has a meeting with ABB, Inc. President Desai and Country Human Resource (HR) Manager Marivic Miranda in the Luzon Conference Room of ABB, Inc. During the meeting, ABB, Inc. President Desai explained to Doble that the Global and Regional Management have demanded for a change in leadership due to the extent of losses and level of discontent among the ranks of the PS Division.

Desai then raised the option for Doble to resign as Local Division Manager of the PS Division. Thereafter, HR Manager Miranda told Doble that he would be paid separation pay equivalent to 75% of his monthly salary for every year of service, provided he would submit a letter of resignation, and gave him until 12 :45 p.m. within which to decide.

Shocked by the abrupt decision of the management, Doble asked why he should be the one made to resign. Miranda said that it was the decision of the management, and left him alone in the conference room to decide whether or not to resign.

Doble narrated in his position paper that he was constructively dismissed and forced to resign. Miranda allegedly told her to prepare the resignation letter telling him that he would not be allowed to leave the company without finishing all the necessary papers he would not be permitted to return to the company on the following days. He said he could not do anything. Under the extreme pressure and threat of Mrs. Miranda, he went to his office and prepared the letter of resignation.

Doble submitted his letter of resignation where he originally indicated the phrase “As per your instruction.” However, he was made to revise the letter by deleting such phrase to which he did. The revised resignation letter was accepted by the company in writing .

ABB contended that when Mrs. Miranda offered the separation rate, Doble attempted to negotiate by proposing to get a resignation benefit equivalent to 1.5 month’s pay and said that if he is given said amount, there will be no issue, no labor case between him and ABB, Inc.

They told Doble that the request could not be accommodated, as the policy provides 75% month’s pay for every year of service. It was then suggested to him that he could talk to Mr. Desai regarding this request but he declined. At this point, he requested that the separation benefit be higher, as he anticipates that there will still be deductions thereon.

It was agreed by ABB management to extend a one-month pay per every year of service to Mr. Doble in consideration of his tenure of service with ABB. Unrelenting, he again negotiated the possibility of a higher amount. HR replied that this is ABB’s final and last offer. He then said that he would draft his letter of resignation.

Mr. Doble handed his resignation letter which as mentioned, with the phrase “as per your instruction”. HR expressed its strong disagreement with the wordings of the resignation letter and asked him to remove the phrase “as per your instruction.” ABB and HR never gave him any instruction/s to resign. It was emphasized to him that it was his decision to resign. Thus, Doble agreed to revise the letter. Also, contrary to Mr. Doble’ s assertion in his Position Paper, it was never imposed that he had deadline on the submission of the revised letter.

Doble then decided to purchase the company-issued vehicle through a written intent to purchase. Doble and Miranda met at McDonald’s Alabang Town Center for Doble to receive his check and sign all documents including the Release and Quitclaim.

Thereafter, Doble filed a Complaint for illegal dismissal with prayer for reinstatement and payment of backwages, other monetary claims and damages.

Doble also argued that the Receipt, Release and Quitclaim is void because it was made to appear that he appeared before a notary public on April 10, 2012 when in fact he already filed an illegal dismissal complaint on March 26, 2012.

LA Ruling:

The Labor Arbiter held that Doble was illegally dismissed because his resignation was involuntary, and ordered ABB, Inc. and Desai to pay his backwages and separation pay, since reinstatement is no longer feasible.

Aggrieved by the Decision of the Labor Arbiter, ABB, Inc. and Desai filed an appeal, whereas Doble filed a partial appeal from the dismissal of his monetary claims.

NLRC Ruling:

The two (2) Commissioners of the NLRC Sixth Division voted to grant the appeal filed by ABB, Inc. and Desai, and to dismiss the partial appeal of Doble. They found that the resignation of Doble being voluntary, there can be no illegal dismissal and no basis for the award of other monetary claims, damages and attorney’s fees. However, one NLRC Commissioner dissented.

Doble filed a motion for reconsideration, but the NLRC denied the motion for lack of compelling reason to disturb its findings and conclusions. Dissatisfied with the NLRC Decision and Resolution, Doble filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA).

CA Ruling:

In a minute Resolution, the CA dismissed outright the Petition for Certiorari because (1) “the assailed National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Decision and Resolution attached are mere ‘CERTIFIED PHOTOCOP(IES)’ and not duplicate originals or certified true copies;” and (2) “Doble’s counsel’s MCLE Compliance No. III-0006542′ xxx does not appear to have complied with the Fourth (IV) MCLE compliance period.”

The CA also denied Doble’s motion for reconsideration because (1) the NLRC Decision and Resolution attached to the petition were certified “photo” copies, unlike the specific requirement for a certified “true” copy, or a “clearly legible duplicate original or certified true copy” of the assailed disposition, and (2) Doble’s counsel conceded his inability to comply with the MCLE requirement.


Whether or not a Deed of Release and Quitclaim is void for being improperly notarized

SC Ruling:

The SC found the petition devoid of substantive merit but partly meritorious on procedural grounds.

There is also no merit in Doble’s contention that the Receipt, Release and Quitclaim is void because it was made to appear that he appeared before a notary public on April 10, 2012 when in fact he already filed an illegal dismissal complaint on March 26, 2012.

The SC held that regardless of the fact that it was improperly notarized, the said quitclaim is a valid and binding contract between him and ABB, Inc., since the authenticity and due execution thereof is undisputed. Such lack of proper notarization does not render a private document void or without legal effect, but merely exposed the notary public to prosecution for possible violation of notarial laws, as well as the one who caused the same for falsification of public document.

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