“No one can give what he does not have" (Nemo dat quod non habet). This latin maxim was reiterated in Felix Gochan, vs. HEIRS OF RAYMUNDO BABA, G.R. No. 138945, 2003 August 19, to wit:


Article 1458 of the New Civil Code provides: "By the contract of sale one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer the ownership of and to deliver a determinate thing, and the other to pay therefor a price certain in money or its equivalent." It is essential that the vendors be the owners of the property sold otherwise they cannot dispose that which does not belong to them. As the Romans put it: "Nemo dat quod non habet." No one can give more than what he has. The sale of the realty to respondents is null and void insofar as it prejudiced petitioners’ interests and participation therein. At best, only the ownership of the shares of Luisa, Maria and Guillerma in the disputed property could have been transferred to respondents.


It was also incorporated in the ruling by the Supreme Court of the Philippines on the case: ARMANDO V. ALANO [Deceased], Substituted by Elena Alano-Torres,* Petitioner, versus PLANTER’S DEVELOPMENT BANK, as Successor-in-Interest of MAUNLAD SAVINGS and LOAN ASSOCIATION, INC., Respondent., G.R. No. 171628, 2011 June 13, 1st Division.


This maxim simply means you cannot transfer a right that you do not possess.