Under this doctrine, the State cannot be sued without its consent. (Sec. 3, Art. XVI, 1987 Constitution). It reflects nothing less th...

Under this doctrine, the State cannot be sued without its consent. (Sec. 3, Art. XVI, 1987 Constitution). It reflects nothing less than recognition of the sovereign character of the State and an express affirmation of the unwritten rule effectively insulating it from the jurisdiction of courts. It is based on the very essence of sovereignty. (Department of Agriculture v. NLRC, G.R. No. 104269, November 11, 1993)

There can be no legal right against the authority which makes the law on which the right depends (Republic vs. Villasor, GRN L‐30671,   November 28, 1973). However, it may be sued if it gives consent, whether express or implied. 

Express consent of the State may be manifested through general or special law. Solicitor General cannot validly waive immunity from suit. Only the Congress can (Republic v. Purisima, G.R. No.  L‐36084, Aug.31, 1977). 

Implied consent is given when the State itself commences litigation or when it enters into a contract. There is an implied consent when the state enters into a business contract. (US v. Ruiz, G.R. No. L‐35645 May 22, 1985). However, this rule is not absolute.  

Not all contracts entered into by the government operate as a waiver of its nonsuability. Distinction must still be made between one which is executed in the exercise of its sovereign function and another which is done in its proprietary capacity. A State may be said to have descended to the level of an individual and can this be deemed to have actually given its consent to be sued only when it enters into business contracts. It does not apply where the contract relates to the exercise of its sovereign functions. (Department of Agriculture vs. NLRC G.R. No. 104269, November 11, 1993) 

A suit considered as suit against the State under the following instances:
1. When the Republic is sued by name; 
2. When the suit is against an unincorporated government agency; 
3. When the suit is on its face against a government officer but the case is such.

While the doctrine appears to prohibit only suits against the state without its consent, it is also applicable to complaints filed against officials of the state for acts allegedly performed by them in the discharge of their duties. The rule is that if the judgment against such officials will require the state itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy the same, such as the appropriation of the amount needed to pay the damages awarded against them, the suit must be regarded as against the state itself, although it has not been formally impleaded. 

It is a different matter where the public official is made to account in his capacity as such for acts contrary to law and injurious to the rights of plaintiff. Inasmuch as the State authorizes only legal acts by its officers, unauthorized acts of govt. officials or officers are not acts of the State, and an action against the officials or officers by one whose rights have been invaded or violated by such acts, for the protection of his rights, is not a suit against the State within the rule of immunity of the State from suit. The doctrine of state immunity cannot be used as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice.

The cloak of immunity is removed from the moment the public official is sued in his individual capacity such as where he acts without authority or in excess of the powers vested in him. A public official may be liable in his personal capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by his act done with malice and in bad faith, or beyond the scope of his authority or jurisdiction. In this case, the officers are liable for damages.

The doctrine is also available to foreign States insofar as they are sought to be sued in the courts of the local State. The added basis in this case is the principle of the sovereign equality of States, under w/c one State cannot assert jurisdiction over another in violation of the maxim par in parem non habet imperium. To do so would "unduly vex the peace of nations." 
The author takes no responsibility for the validity, correctness and result of this work. The information provided is not a legal advice and it should not be used  as a substitute for a competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer. See the disclaimer

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