Appellate Courts are allowed to resolve both factual and legal issues by way of exceptions:

[The employee] is in error in its submission that the findings of the LA in labor cases were final and binding upon courts exercising appellate jurisdiction. The general rule is that due to its recognized expertise as a result of its specific jurisdiction, the findings of the LA are accorded great respect if: one, they concurred with the findings of the NLRC; and two, if they are supported by substantial evidence.

The foregoing rule is not absolute and admits of exceptions. Thus, in the following instances, the Court is compelled to resolve both factual issues along with the legal ones: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings, the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to that of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; or (11) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.

In the case at bench, the factual findings of the [Labor Arbiter] differ from those of the [National Labor Relations Commission] and the [Court of Appeals]. This divergence of positions constrains the Court to review and evaluate assiduously the evidence on record and determine whether or not [the employee] is entitled to disability benefits.

– Daraug v. KGJS Fleet Management Manila, Inc., G.R. No. 211211, January 14, 2015

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