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Petitioner Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) hired private respondent Milagros Morada as a flight attendant in 1988, based in Jeddah. In 1990, while on a lay-over in Jakarta, Indonesia, she went to party with two (2) male attendants, and on the following morning in their hotel, one of the male attendants attempted to rape her. She was rescued by hotel attendants who heard her cry for help. The Indonesian police arrested the two men.
Morada returned to Jeddah but was asked by the company to go back to Jakarta and help arrange the release of the 2 male attendants. MORADA did not cooperate when she got to Jakarta.
What followed was a series of interrogations from the Saudi Courts which she did not understand as this was in their language. In 1993, she was surprised, upon being ordered by SAUDIA to go to the Saudi court, that she was being convicted of (1) adultery; (2) going to a disco, dancing and listening to the music in violation of Islamic laws; and (3) socializing with the male crew, in contravention of Islamic tradition, sentencing her to five months imprisonment and to 286 lashes. Only then did she realize that the Saudi court had tried her, together with the 2, for what happened in Jakarta.
SAUDIA denied her the assistance she requested, but because she was wrongfully convicted, Prince of Makkah dismissed the case against her and allowed her to leave Saudi Arabia. Shortly before her return to Manila, she was terminated from the service by SAUDIA, without her being informed of the cause.
On November 23, 1993, Morada filed a Complaint for damages against SAUDIA, and Khaled Al-Balawi (“Al-Balawi”), its country manager. SAUDIA alleges that the existence of a foreign element qualifies the instant case for the application of the law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by virtue of the lex loci delicti commissi rule.
Morada alleges that since her Amended Complaint is based on Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code, then the instant case is properly a matter of domestic law.
Whether or not the Philippine courts have jurisdiction to try the case.
Yes, On the presence of a “Foreign Element” in the case: A factual situation that cuts across territorial lines and is affected by the diverse laws of two or more states is said to contain a “foreign element”. In the instant case, the foreign element consisted in the fact that private respondent Morada is a resident Philippine national, and that petitioner SAUDIA is a resident foreign corporation. Also, by virtue of the employment of Morada with the petitioner Saudia as a flight stewardess, events did transpire during her many occasions of travel across national borders, particularly from Manila, Philippines to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and vice versa, that caused a “conflicts” situation to arise.
The presence of a foreign element is inevitable since social and economic affairs of individuals and associations are rarely confined to the geographic limits of their birth or conception. The forms in which this foreign element may appear are many. The foreign element may simply consist in the fact that one of the parties to a contract is an alien or has a foreign domicile, or that a contract between nationals of one State involves properties situated in another State. In other cases, the foreign element may assume a complex form.
COURT disagrees with Morada that this is purely a domestic case. However, the court finds that the RTC of Quezon City possesses jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit. Its authority to try and hear the case is provided for under Section 1 of Republic Act No. 7691
Weighing the relative claims of the parties, the court a quo found it best to hear the case in the Philippines. Had it refused to take cognizance of the case, it would be forcing plaintiff (private respondent now) to seek remedial action elsewhere, i.e. in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where she no longer maintains substantial connections. That would have caused a fundamental unfairness to her.
Moreover, by hearing the case in the Philippines no unnecessary difficulties and inconvenience have been shown by either of the parties. The choice of forum of the plaintiff (now private respondent) should be upheld.
The trial court also acquired jurisdiction over the parties. Morada through her act of filing, and SAUDIA by praying for the dismissal of the Amended Complaint on grounds other than lack of jurisdiction.
In applying “State of the most significant relationship” rule, to determine the State which has the most significant relationship, the following contacts are to be taken into account and evaluated according to their relative importance with respect to the particular issue: (a) the place where the injury occurred; (b) the place where the conduct causing the injury occurred; (c) the domicile, residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of the parties, and (d) the place where the relationship, if any, between the parties is centered.
As already discussed, there is basis for the claim that over-all injury occurred and lodged in the Philippines. There is likewise no question that private respondent is a resident Filipina national, working with petitioner, a resident foreign corporation engaged here in the business of international air carriage. Thus, the “relationship” between the parties was centered here, although it should be stressed that this suit is not based on mere labor law violations. From the record, the claim that the Philippines has the most significant contact with the matter in this dispute, raised by private respondent as plaintiff below against defendant (herein petitioner), in our view, has been properly established.
These “test factors” or “points of contact” or “connecting factors” could be any of the following:
(1) The nationality of a person, his domicile, his residence, his place of sojourn, or his origin;
(2) the seat of a legal or juridical person, such as a corporation;
(3) the situs of a thing, that is, the place where a thing is, or is deemed to be situated. In particular, the lex situs is decisive when real rights are involved;
(4) the place where an act has been done, the locus actus, such as the place where a contract has been made, a marriage celebrated, a will signed or a tort committed. The lex loci actus is particularly important in contracts and torts;
(5) the place where an act is intended to come into effect, e.g., the place of performance of contractual duties, or the place where a power of attorney is to be exercised;
(6) the intention of the contracting parties as to the law that should govern their agreement, the lex loci intentionis;
(7) the place where judicial or administrative proceedings are instituted or done. The lex fori — the law of the forum — is particularly important because, as we have seen earlier, matters of “procedure” not going to the substance of the claim involved are governed by it; and because the lex fori applies whenever the content of the otherwise applicable foreign law is excluded from application in a given case for the reason that it falls under one of the exceptions to the applications of foreign law; and
(8) the flag of a ship, which in many cases is decisive of practically all legal relationships of the ship and of its master or owner as such. It also covers contractual relationships particularly contracts of affreightment.