China: 合同转让时仲裁协议效力扩张的实践研究

Last Updated: 5 June 2019
Article by Junqi Wang
Most Read Contributor in China, July 2019

仲裁作为一种争议解决手段,其管辖有赖于当事人间的仲裁协议。基于合同相对性的原则,仲裁原则上应发生在仲裁协议的原始当事人之间,仲裁协议也只能约束签约的原始当事人,非仲裁协议当事人的第三人,理应不受仲裁协议的约束。

然而,在仲裁实践中,仲裁协议效力并非仅限约束仲裁协议当事人。在特定情形下,第三人虽然没有在含有仲裁协议的合同上签字,裁判机关仍可能推定其有接受该仲裁协议效力的意思表示。此种情况下,有效的仲裁协议不仅对签字方有约束力,相应仲裁程序也可以由该第三人提起或向该第三人提起。实践中,仲裁协议对未签约人的这种扩张的法律拘束力,被称为仲裁协议的"长臂效力"。有观点认为,是否承认仲裁协议在特定情况下对仲裁协议未签署人也产生约束力,反映了先进仲裁制度和落后仲裁制度的分野。

实践中,可能引起仲裁协议效力扩张的事由包括:当事人合并与分立、继承;合同转让;代理与委托;法人人格混同与主从合同等。而实践中,最为常见的情况往往为合同转让,此种转让在国内与国际仲裁中对于仲裁协议效力的影响,正是本文研究的焦点。

一、国内仲裁背景下合同转让时仲裁协议效力扩张的基本原则

合同转让实质是债权债务的转让,根据转让形式的不同,可归纳为债权的转让、债务的转让与合同的概括性转让三种情形。无论是何种情形,均会导致合同当事方发生变化,也就产生了新的权利义务受让人是否受原合同仲裁协议效力约束的问题。

根据最高人民法院发布的《关于适用<中华人民共和国仲裁法>若干问题的解释》第九条规定:债权债务全部或者部分转让的,仲裁协议对受让人有效,但当事人另有约定、在受让债权债务时受让人明确反对或者不知有单独仲裁协议的除外。

就上述司法解释的适用范围,最高人民法院在(2016)最高法民辖终273号民事裁定书中做了明确,认为"上述规定既适用于债权与债务一并转让的情形,也适用于债权与债务分别转让的情形。"也即是说,涵盖合同转让的各种情形。

此外,就合同转让事宜,还可参考最高人民法院《关于适用<中华人民共和国民事诉讼法>的解释》第三十三条的规定。根据该规定,合同转让的,合同的管辖协议对合同受让人有效,但转让时受让人不知道有管辖协议,或者转让协议另有约定且原合同相对人同意的除外。

根据上述法律规范,可以认为,如由于债权债务转让导致合同主体发生变更,除非存在法定的情形可使得合同的受让人获得豁免,否则该受让人也须受相应仲裁协议的约束。这一点,在最高人民法院的相关判例中可得到明确。在最高人民法院(2015)民提字第194号民事裁定书中,最高人民法院明确:"张静作为上述系列合同之债权的受让人,若无证据证明张静在受让债权债务时,明确反对或者不知有单独仲裁协议的情况下,该仲裁协议条款可以约束张静。"

同样的,在(2016)最高法民辖终38号裁定书中,最高人民法院再次明确:"《武汉君盛贸易项目采购框架合同》第十条约定解决争议的方法为"提交北京仲裁委员会仲裁解决",建行钢城支行未提交证据证明有上述条款中除外规定的情形,因此《武汉君盛贸易项目采购框架合同》中约定的仲裁条款对建行钢城支行有效。"由此可见,此类案件中我国裁判机关往往推定合同转让中的受让人应受到原合同中仲裁协议的约束。如受让人不认可相应仲裁协议,则其应承担举证责任。

二、国内仲裁背景下合同转让时仲裁协议效力扩张的例外

如上文所述,根据最高人民法院发布的《关于适用<中华人民共和国仲裁法>若干问题的解释》第九条规定,受让人如不认可原合同仲裁协议对自身的约束效力,可通过证明"当事人另有约定"、"在受让债权债务时受让人明确反对"或"不知有单独仲裁协议"来争取豁免。就上述三种例外情形,我们试逐条分析阐述如下:

1.当事人另有约定

此种情形较易理解,当事人就转让后协议的争议解决事宜另做约定,往往将产生取代先前协议中仲裁协议效力的结果,故在此不再赘述。相应的司法实践可参考最高人民法院在(2016)最高法民辖终217号民事裁定中的论述。

2.在受让债权债务时受让人明确反对

当受让人在受让合同项下债权债务时曾明确反对原合同的仲裁协议,则往往能够产生豁免原合同仲裁协议对受让人约束力的效力。需要注意的是,此种情形需要受让人证明两个关键事实:其一为受让人曾提出"明确反对";其二为受让人是在"受让债权债务时"提出反对;

实践中,较为典型的情况是受让人在受让债权债务的法律文件中明确其不接受原合同的仲裁协议。上海市高级人民法院在(2016)沪民辖终121号裁定书中认定,由于代位求偿之保险人在《保险赔付协议》中明确表示有关涉案《海运合同》中的仲裁协议对其不具有约束力,故保险人不受原合同仲裁协议的约束。

事实上,此种情形与"当事人另有约定"存在一定的互通之处,区别仅在于:"当事人另有约定"的情形下,受让人与协议其他当事方就受让后协议的争议解决达成了协议;而"在受让债权债务时受让人明确反对"的情形下,当事方就争议解决未必有明确的约定,仅是受让人表示不接受原合同的仲裁协议。

3.不知有单独仲裁协议

实践中,受让人证明其不知晓有单独仲裁协议存在一定的困难。正常情况下,受让人是否知晓存在单独仲裁协议往往不会留下书面材料,需要法庭通过有关事实来进行推定,这对于负有举证义务的受让人来说,是不太有利的。

此外,"单独仲裁协议"从字面解读,会产生其是否是指相应仲裁协议应是未并入原合同的"独立"协议(举例来说,未约定管辖的原合同与单独的仲裁约定)的歧义。但从实践看,似乎并非如此。

在(2009)浙辖终字第234号案中,浙江省高级人民法院在审理中查明,诉争涉外承揽合同中的供货方,在未通知收货方的情况下,将合同下义务以订单形式委托给了第三方受让人。本案中,主供货合同约定有仲裁协议;同时,主供货合同还约定,未经收货方书面许可,发货方不得全部或部分转让该协议。也即是说,供货方转让原合同下义务并非是依据原合同的约定,故很难认为受让人知晓原合同下包括仲裁协议在内的条款。据此,浙江省高级人民法院推定现有证据尚不足以证明受让人知晓仲裁协议,故主供货协议中的仲裁协议不能约束受让人。

因此,适用"不知有单独仲裁协议"并不必然要求仲裁协议独立于原合同,而是将重点放在根据现有材料是否足以推定受让人不知晓相应仲裁协议的存在。要证明此种事实,对于受让人及其代理人来说,无疑需要较强的逻辑思维和证据组织能力。

三、国际仲裁背景下合同转让时仲裁协议效力扩张

国际仲裁中,合同转让时仲裁协议效力扩张问题,随着裁判机关和适用法律的不同,也会产生不同的变化。对于受让人来说,这一点不可不慎。

就该问题,英国法院的态度经历了一个变化的过程,在上世纪初"Cottage Club Estates Limited V. Woodside Estate [1928] 2KB463."案中,英国法院对于合同转让所导致的仲裁协议效力扩张持谨慎态度,认为仅在当事人有明确约定认可仲裁协议一同转让时方可认定仲裁协议已转让。但在之后的"Shaylerv Woolf [1946] Ch320"中,上诉法院的观点已有所变化,认为在仲裁协议可转让(assignable)的情况下,合同的转让(包括仲裁协议)不会仅因仲裁协议的存在而受到阻碍。而在较近的"West Tankers Inc v RAS Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta SpA [2005] EWHC454(Comm)"中,仲裁协议被认为是"转让权利中不可分割的一部分",因而在受让人无明确反对的情形下应当约束受让人。但是,需要注意的是,英国法院在此类问题上,非常注意仲裁协议是否可转让(assignable),并会据此影响其最终的判决。因此相关情形并不能照搬我国国内仲裁的原则去理解。

同为英美法系国家,新加坡法院对于此问题的理解则又有所不同,在最近的"CASSADI RISPARMIO V RALS INTERNATIONAL [2015] SGHC 264"中,新加坡高院(High Court)不认可受让人(assignee)可简单地成为一份双务合同(bilateral contract)的一方进而受仲裁协议效力的约束。但是,根据新加坡法律的规定,其仍可作为一个其主张通过或基于("claiming through or under")出让人的主体从而受到仲裁协议的约束。此种裁判方法,显然和英国法院的理念又有所区别。

诚然,由于各国法律多不相同,我们不可能穷尽所有国家对于合同转让时仲裁协议效力扩张问题的裁判理念。但是可以确定的是,不同国家的裁判机关就该问题即便裁判结果相似,其裁判路径亦有可能各有不同,需要根据案件的不同情况引起特别的注意。

四、总结与建议

综上所述,合同转让的情形下,受让人需要特别关注其是否会受到原合同中仲裁协议的约束。从立法与实践中来看,无论是国内仲裁,还是境外仲裁,受让人均有此方面的风险。

事实上,是否受原合同仲裁协议的约束,对于受让人在合同下权益有较大的影响。除不适宜的仲裁选择可能额外增加受让人的潜在争议解决成本外;如合同未约定适用法律或约定不明,则不适宜的仲裁选择更有可能影响合同准据法的确定,进而影响案件的实体审理。

有鉴于此,受让人在合同转让时,应特别关注原合同下包括仲裁协议在内的争议解决条款的约定情况;如条件允许,更应明确在受让文件中约定争议解决条款,以覆盖原合同或与原合同有关的可能的仲裁协议的法律效力,从而避免风险。 

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