China: 印章效力在审判实务中的认定

Last Updated: 23 April 2019
Article by DeHeng Law Offices
Most Read Contributor in China, May 2019

近些年来,我国法院审判实务中出现了由印章引起的大量合同纠纷。其特点是:印章是真实的;双方在主合同之外签订了变更主合同主要内容的补充协议;协议形式上存在一定的瑕疵;补充协议约定了偏向一方的合同义务;约定了对一方有利的司法管辖;相对方不承认补充协议内容的存在。

在有些案件中,印章本身也并非没有问题,如在补充协议上盖的印章与主合同不一致,虽然印章也是真实的,主合同盖的是合同专用章,补充协议却变成了公司的公章。

有些情况下是主合同约定,涉及主合同主要权利义务的任何协议应加盖公司合同专用章方为有效,而涉案补充协议盖的印章却是公司部门印章(安阳市中级人民法院[2017]豫05民终3398号工程合同纠纷案)。

有时印章所加盖的位置与习惯做法不一致,如双方印章在协议纸张上存在上下左右与以往加盖的位置不同,对此疑点亦不能给出合理的解释。

在如上种种情况下,如何认定印章的效力问题便成为困扰审判实务的难题。而2016年《最高人民法院公报》第3期刊载的(2014)民提字第178号"陈呈浴与内蒙古昌宇石业有限公司合同纠纷案"民事判决书要旨给了我们一个较为清晰的答案。

一、印章真实不等于协议真实

"印章真实不等于协议真实。协议形成行为与印章加盖行为在性质上具有相对独立性,协议内容是双方合意行为的表现形式,而印章加盖行为是各方确认双方合意内容的方式,二者相互关联又相对独立。在证据意义上,印章真实一般即可推定协议真实,但在有证据否定或怀疑合意形成行为真实性的情况下,即不能根据印章的真实性直接推定协议的真实性。也就是说,印章在证明协议真实性上尚属初步证据,人民法院认定协议的真实性需综合考虑其他证据及事实。"

这是2016年《最高人民法院公报》第3期刊载的(2014)民提字第178号"陈呈浴与内蒙古昌宇石业有限公司合同纠纷案"民事判决书要旨。这一判决解决了多年困扰审判实践中存在的"印章行为瑕疵"的法律效力认定问题。

诉争的起因是印章,而且,印章是真实的。正如判决要旨所言:在证据意义上,印章真实一般即可推定为协议真实。法院在受理类似案件时,一般也以此为原则对印章的效力进行认定,并最后做出判决。但是,协议相对方并不承认协议本身的真实性。当然在整个诉讼过程中也会否认印章的真实性。上述案件中内蒙古昌宇石业公司就对印章的真实性提出置疑,并申请进行司法鉴定。结果,司法鉴定的结果是:印章是真的。这使昌宇公司陷入被动。当其再申请鉴定印章与协议内容形成的时间是否一致时,被法院驳回,结果便在一二审输了官司。

但是,协议内容确非当事人的真实意思表示。印章虽然是真实的,但协议本身存在着诸多问题。

二、印章位置形式上的瑕疵足以导致协议无效

印章虽然是真实的,但盖有真实印章的协议形式上存在严重瑕疵。在上述案件中,甲、乙双方协议上的位置颠倒,不符合习惯规则。

在合同、协议等契约形式上,公司法人、发包人为甲方,自然人、承包人为乙方,这是民事关系参加人没有理由改变的一个习惯规则。发包方与承包方2005年5月1日所签订的《协议》亦是如此。而事隔2天5月3日签订的《补充协议》,发包方昌宇公司位置颠倒,变成了乙方,自然人陈呈浴成了甲方。这显然不符合合同形式的习惯规则。双方此前签订的几份协议的顺序均以昌宇公司为甲方,陈呈浴为乙方。出现这种顺序颠倒的唯一解释是:这张盖有昌宇公司印章的空白纸的印章盖在了这张纸的右下角,在这张纸上,因盖章位置所限,只能将昌宇公司一方置于乙方的位置。

河南安阳的一起工程承包合同纠纷案中([2017]豫05民终3398号),印章也是真实的,只是盖的不是公司合同专用章或公司公章,而是项目部印章。甲乙双方名份未变,即发包方为甲方,承包方为乙方,但位置与以往有所不同,本应为"上下左右"结构,现在变成了"上下右左"结构,即协议首部甲方(发包方)在上,乙方(承包方)在下;协议尾部双方盖章处变成了乙方(承包方)在左,甲方(发包方)在右。这同样是因为印章盖在了这张纸的右下方所致。

对方就此曾经在庭审中辩称,认为双方加盖印章的位置与以往不同不能认为属于合同形式上的瑕疵,并因此认定补充协议不具有真实性从而不能作为有效证据使用是错误的,因为我国法律并未明确规定盖章的左右位置会导致合同无效。

而根据我国合同法和司法解释,在法律没有明确规定的情况下,应当按照交易习惯予以确定。最高法院 《〈中华人民共和国合同法〉若干问题的解释(二)》第七条规定:"下列情形,不违反法律、行政法规强制性规定的,人民法院可以认定为合同法所称交易习惯:(一)在交易行为当地或者某一领域、某一行业通常采用并为交易对方订立合同时所知道或者应当知道的做法;(二)当事人双方经常使用的习惯做法。

而甲乙双方(发包方和承包方)盖章位置的"上下左右"结构为通常采用、双方知道和应当知道以及双方当事人经常使用的习惯做法,在没有正当理由的情况下应予遵守。如果改变这一习惯做法,应当提出正当充分的理由予以说明或进行合理的解释。

大连新大洋机械有限公司与大连旅顺中鹏工业有限公司买卖合同纠纷再审民事判决书(大连市中级人民法院[2014]大审民终再字第143号)指出:"从形式上看,协议书没有法定代表人或代理人签字或盖章,公司印章既未盖在公司名称处亦未盖在落款时间处,与签订协议的一般形式不符。"因此,合议庭认定协议无效。

实际上,在相对方不予认可并没有其他证据佐证的情况下,协议形式上的瑕疵足以否定协议本身的效力。

三、协议内容有勃常理和主合同约定

另外,涉案补充协议内容不合常理,且显失公平;也违反主合同约定。

在上述案件中,根据双方2005年5月1日就采矿合作事宜签署的《协议》精神,双方属于合作开采,乙方有自行开采、销售产品的权利,昌宇公司(甲方)作为发包人所获得的是矿山费用补偿金,开采所得矿石属于乙方自行销售,自行承担经营风险,并取得经营利润,双方的权利义务是对等的,也是公平的。而《补充协议》的整个内容在权利义务上完全违反了公平原则,几乎全部权利都是乙方个人的,全部风险则由昌宇公司承担。显然,在正常情况下昌宇公司不可能签订这样的《补充协议》,故其内容显然并非其真实的意思表示。

上述河南安阳案件中,在主合同中双方约定,没有发包方相关部门批准,任何人不得变更合同价款;合同总价不得因原材料价格上涨等经济因素而变更。而这个盖有项目部印章的补充协议就改变了合同价款,约定在工程款全部结算完毕后给予其原材料上涨的经济补偿。

补充协议上的约定往往与主合同相反,完全改变了主合同的权利义务关系。在合同双方地位未发生根本改变的情况下,一般不会出现这种情况。这些违背常理和主合同约定的重要条款变更,需要相对方的认可,否则应予举证证明其真实性,给出合理的解释。

四、协议约定有利于原告一方的司法管辖

这些补充协议还有一个重要特点是约定对原告一方有利的司法管辖地,一般都在原告一方的所在地,而违背一般原告就被告的法院管辖原则。

在上述案件中,协议约定的司法管辖不符合法律规定。根据《中华人民共和国民事诉讼法》第三十四条的规定,"合同或者其他财产权益纠纷的当事人可以书面协议选择被告住所地、合同履行地、合同签订地、原告住所地、标的物所在地等与争议有实际联系的地点的人民法院管辖"。在2005年5月3日《补充协议》签订和2007年在内蒙古和林格尔县人民法院诉讼之时,乙方的住所地都在山西省太原市,而非福建省福鼎市。福建省福鼎市为乙方个人的户籍所在地,但法律规定可以约定管辖的是住所地,而无户籍所在地。故补充协议约定乙方个人的户籍所在地的"两个法院管辖"不符合法律规定,应属无效。

而且,协议管辖必须明确、唯一,即使《补充协议》存在,其约定由"福建省福鼎市法院或宁德市中院管辖和受理",也违反法律规定,应属无效约定(申请人一审曾依法提出管辖权异议)。

《补充协议》关于管辖的约定,将一个可能产生赔偿的纠纷管辖地放在一个与争议标的所在地相隔几千里之外的原告户籍地,不仅不便于双方处理纠纷;同时,在签订协议时,在原告并无合同优势(属承包方)的情况下,昌宇公司能够同意将诉讼管辖地放在承包人户籍所在地,唯一的合理解释是原告人为地制造了这个管辖地。

上述河南安阳一案的法院管辖约定直接改变了主合同在被告所在地上海的约定,而是约定在河南原告所在地,以获得一个对自己有利的法院管辖。在上述两种情况下,被告都曾根据法律规定提出司法管辖权异议,当然都被驳回,从而启动了复杂而曲折的司法审判程序,最后虽然没有认定协议效力,但极大地浪费了司法资源,实际上双方也都因此蒙受了损失。

五、印章被滥用的法律责任

补充协议盖有真实的公司印章,但相对方不认可,原告一方又提不出其他证据予以佐证。而事情的结果往往是,通过从形式到内容进行认真辨析,最后只能得出一个结论:协议是伪造的。在这种情况下,应理清各方的责任问题。

补充协议或无论什么协议,盖有公司的印章,公司起码在印章管理上是存在漏洞的。法院在审理此类案件时往往倾向于认为:印章是真实的就应承担责任。但是,这里应当进行具体分析:印章管理漏洞这样的过错应当承担什么样的责任?应当为伪造的内容承担后果吗?显然不是。应当根据过错的程度承担责任。上述案件中,补充协议要求补偿的标的都是数百万元以上,这与印章管理混乱的过错相比,显然是不相称的。

在上述昌宇案和河南安阳案中,双方工作人员在具体施工过程中都有机会接触到对方的印章。根据民事法律诚实信用原则,如因工作关系获得相对方的印章,在因工作需要使用相对方的印章时应当取得相对方的同意,否则应予归还,包括印章本身或盖有印章的空白纸张。根据我国的法律规定,拾得物应当归还原主,不能据为已有,否则应当承担相应的法律责任。因此,无论何种原因获得对方印章或盖有印章的空白纸张,都不能构成滥用民事权利为自己谋利的根据。

六、结论

在协议本身存在一定瑕疵,并不为相对方认可的情况下,印章真实并不能想当然地认定协议的真实。要确认协议真实有效,还得提供其他证据予以证明(佐证)。

在经济活动中,盖有印章的空白纸张流失或印章本身失控现象亦属正常,但获得者不能利用其获取不当利益。在上述案件中,当事人显然违背了民事活动中最为重要的诚实信用原则,属于滥用民事权利,损害合同相对人的利益。

在湖北的几起工程承包合同纠纷案中,因为涉案企业为挂靠单位,合同专用章长期为挂靠企业掌控。在公司收回印章时,为了避免合同纠纷发生,公司向公安部门封存了原印章,并刻制和启用了新的合同专用印章。果然不出所料,不过半年时间,以盖有原合同专用章的各种协议为依据起诉公司的案件就发生了好几起。公司以原合同专用章已经作废进行抗辩,但要让法院认可,还需要进一步提出证据予以证明。

实际上,在这种情况下当事人可能涉嫌合同诈骗。根据 《中华人民共和国刑法》第二百二十四条规定,以非法占有为目的,在签订、履行合同过程中,"冒用他人名义签订合同"或者"以其他方法骗取当事人财物的",构成合同诈骗罪,应追究刑事责任。在上述几起案件中,当事人伪造《补充协议》,并试图通过诉讼形式取得相对方巨额财产,涉嫌合同诈骗,应当追究其刑事责任。

这里的关键还是法院。法官在审理类似的案件中,应当明辨是非曲直,转变思路,重点打击的应当是那些不诚信行为,而非印章管理上的过失。

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These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions