Civil or Natural Obligations

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What constitutes civil or natural obligations – Obligations are either civil or natural.[1] Civil obligations “give a right of action to compel their performance,[2] while natural obligations “do not grant a right of action to enforce their performance, but after voluntary fulfillment by the obligor, they authorize the retention of what has been delivered or rendered by reason thereof” since these types of obligations are not “based on positive law but on equity and natural law.”[3]


[1] CIVIL CODE. Article 1423.

[2] Ibid. Article 1423.

[3] Ibid. Article 1423. Examples of natural obligations: (1) A debtor who willfully and voluntarily performs his contractual obligations cannot recover what he has delivered or the value of the services he rendered on the ground that the creditor’s right to file suit has lapsed by extinctive prescription (Article 1424, Civil Code); (2) A debtor cannot recover what he has paid to the third party, who paid the debtor’s debt without the knowledge or against the will of the latter and who was not legally bound to pay as the right to sue thereon has prescribed (Article 1425, Ibid.); (3) A defendant who voluntarily performs his obligations cannot demand the return of what he has delivered or the payment of the value of the services he rendered should the creditor’s action to enforce a civil obligation fail (Article 1428, Ibid.).

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