China: 财产保全申请人新的法律风险

Last Updated: 25 September 2019
Article by Aaron Yizhou Deng
Most Read Contributor in China, September 2019

财产保全是一种重要的诉讼策略,但其中的风险也不可不察。根据我国《民事诉讼法》的相关规定 1,诉前或诉中(含仲裁前或仲裁中,下同)财产保全的主要功能是为了防止民事判决或仲裁裁决生效后无财产可供执行。法定的财产保全启动方式虽可分为依当事人申请和法院依职权采取 2,但后者在实践中十分鲜见,保全程序几乎全部由当事人申请才得以启动。

申请人在财产保全案件中的法律风险,传统上主要是指因申请人(原告、反诉原告或有独立请求权第三人,下同)的诉求被法院判决实体性驳回,被保全方反过来起诉申请人,要求其赔偿因其申请的保全"错误"所导致的损失。由于这方面的讨论已经非常多,本文要探讨的,是前述传统的法律风险之外,近年来因立法及司法实践的变迁所带来的新的法律风险,主要有三种。

一、未能提供符合规定的保险公司担保函的风险

在北京市东城区人民法院(2017)京0101民初22202号不正当竞争纠纷一案 3中,原告美国某公司申请法院保全被告温州某公司名下150万元财产。原告提供保单保函作为申请的担保,但保函载明的责任方式为"保险责任"。法院认为,保险责任系保险人与被保险人之间约定的保险权利义务关系。2016年《最高人民法院关于人民法院办理财产保全案件若干问题的规定》(简称"《2016年财产保全司法解释》")第七条规定:"保险人以其与申请保全人签订财产保全责任险合同的方式为财产保全提供担保的,应当向人民法院出具担保书。"经法院释明,申请人坚持以保险保单保函的形式为其保全申请提供担保,故其所提供的担保方式不符合相关法律、司法解释的要求,遂裁定驳回财产保全的申请。

以上案件中,导致原告保全申请被驳回的原因,是其提供的具体担保方式不符合要求。依《担保法》,担保方式可包括保证、抵押、质押、留置、定金。保险公司出具的诉讼保全担保书,性质属于"连带责任保证",其承担责任的条件及方式确与保单保函下的保险责任有所不同。可见,保全申请人就其申请向法院提供的担保,需符合相关法规及受案法院的具体要求。

《民事诉讼法》第一百条 4要求申请人提供的是"担保",未明确是否包含保险的方式。而保单保函承担的是一种"保险责任",不能构成有效担保。实践中,法院往往严格要求保全申请人提供担保,包括现金、财物(如房产)、担保公司保函,以及近几年逐渐发展并被越来越多法院所接受的"诉讼保全责任保险"。

诉讼保全责任保险最初是由保险公司针对诉讼保全申请人提供全额担保的现实困难而开发的新保险产品,其性质属于第三者责任险。保全申请人一般仅需支付几个百分点的保费,保险公司即可向法院出具担保书,明确承诺一旦申请人财产保全错误,将无条件地赔偿被保全人因保全所遭受的损失。

最初,法院并不愿意接受这种保函,但后来随着法院对这种保险品种的了解和认同不断加深,越来越多的法院逐渐认可了保险公司提供的诉讼保全责任保险这种担保方式,并最终在最高法院司法解释中得以确认。

虽然诉讼保全责任险作为保全担保方式具有成本低、方便、快捷的优势,但实践中保险公司及申请人仍需要注意与受案法院充分沟通,了解其对保函格式、内容的具体要求。

二、未及时申请续行财产保全的风险

在(2017)粤01民终11455号法律服务委托合同纠纷二审案 5中,2014年4月,周某因其与李某等四名借款人之间的借款纠纷,与某律所订立委托代理合同,委托该律所A律师代理前述案件的全部程序,代理权限为特别授权,律师费28万元。 案件起诉后,周某向一审法院申请保全,法院2014年5月20日冻结了案外人B公司名下开设桂林某银行账号中的700余万元。

2014年5月12日,一审法院书面告知周某:"如需续封,需提前15天向法院提交续封申请,逾期提交承担相应的法律责任。"周某本人在该笔录上签字确认。

2014年11月19日上述查封到期后,周某及其委托代理人均未提出续封申请。2015年3月,周某申请法院对上述账户继续冻结。但此时银行账户内资金已转走,实际冻结0元。

2016年3月11日,该律所以周某代理人身份向一审法院申请恢复执行上述四个借款案件的判决,但随后周某本人申请撤回恢复执行申请。随后,周某提起本案一审诉讼,认为该律所未及时为其申请续封银行账户,导致其判决不能得到执行,要求该律所赔偿损失700余万元及利息,被一审法院判决驳回。周某上诉。二审改判。

二审改判理由为:作为一名专业律师,A律师清楚周某案件中财产保全的时间,以其专业能力应该知道法律规定的保全期限及保全到期时间,并应在保全到期前提出续封申请。A律师因疏忽而未能在保全到期前提出续封申请,导致被保全的财产被转移,存在过错。但同时,周某本人也参与了诉讼保全程序,知道保全措施的相关情况,且法官明确告知其本人在查封到期前15天需提交续封申请,周某本应按时提出续封申请或督促代理律师去完成该事务,从而避免损失的发生。

最终,法院综合考虑本案基本案情、违约程度、实际损失等各方面因素,对周某所主张的损失及利息,法院酌定该律所承担80%的责任,剩余20%的责任由周某自行承担。

该案判决曾经在法律界尤其是律师界引起广泛关注。律所仅收了28万元律师费,却要在官司胜诉后反过来赔偿自己的客户500多万元。可见保全案件对于律师而言已成为高风险类型的案件。

除了律师执业风险外,这个案子反映的主要问题,是已采取的保全措施到期后,应当由谁来启动续封程序以及未及时续封导致的责任承担问题。

《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》(法释〔2015〕5号)(简称"2015年《民事诉讼法司法解释》")第487条第一款规定,人民法院冻结被执行人的银行存款的期限不得超过一年,查封、扣押动产的期限不得超过两年,查封不动产、冻结其他财产权的期限不得超过三年。因此,任何财产保全措施,都只能在法定效力期限内有效。一旦期限届满而未及时续行,保全就会失效,就可能造成相关裁判文书无法执行,导致相关当事人的损失。

那么,法院采取保全措施后,法定的保全期限届满而申请人需要继续保全,此时究竟应由谁来启动续行的程序呢,是法官、申请人还是申请人的代理人?

这个问题看似简单,不就是重新启动保全程序么?其实它事关诉讼相关方重大责任的分配 6。正因如此,这个问题一直以来困扰着司法界。在《2016年财产保全司法解释》(2016年12月1日起施行)之前,由于没有明确的法律界定,一些法院被迫耗费大量人力物力,甚至指定专人每日紧盯各个保全案件保全措施的期限是否到期,气氛相当紧张 7。雪上加霜的是,检察院一直以来也将法官在保全续行失败的案件中是否存在玩忽职守、渎职失职的情形,作为其对法院进行诉讼监督的重点工作之一。法官因保全到期未及时续行而被检察院立案调查并受到行政甚至是刑事追究的案例时有报道。可以说,当时的财产保全案件是悬在法官们头上的"达摩克里斯之剑"。

法官们普遍认为将保全到期续行的责任全部推给法官是不合理的,毕竟是申请人主动提出的财产保全申请,其应尽到更多的注意义务。再者,申请人往往只需关注自己的个案,而法官同时承办大量案件,要求法官对每个保全案件都高度关注也不符合客观事实和情理。

另外,2015年《民事诉讼法司法解释》第487条第2款规定,申请执行人申请延长期限的,人民法院应当在查封、扣押、冻结期限届满前办理续行查封、扣押、冻结手续。同时,《最高人民法院关于人民法院民事执行中查封、扣押、冻结财产的规定》(法释[2004]15号)第二十九条第二款也有类似规定。

上述规定都将申请人提出续行保全申请作为法官采取续行保全措施的前提条件。如此,续行保全的申请义务发生乾坤大挪移,几乎完全从法官身上转移到申请人一方!相应的责任风险也随之转移。

这种风险的转移,就要求当事人及其代理人对于保全措施的期限、金额、方式及到期后的义务具有清醒的认识,持续性地尽到最大注意义务。一旦因未及时申请续封导致损失及责任追究,如果原申请人没有代理人,则全部责任将由申请人承担;如其委托了律师,则需要分析律师是否存在过错,以确定律师的执业责任。

因此,在这种案件中,只有当事人与其律师相互信任,紧密合作,不推诿,定期相互提醒,持续性地尽到最大程度的注意义务,才能避免发生损失及责任追究。当然,律师作为专业人士,实践中有必要也有办法适当降低自己在代理这种案件中的执业责任。

三、未及时申请解除保全措施的风险

财产保全措施是在官司尚未终审之前,对被保全人财产提前采取的一种严厉的限制措施,等于先斩后奏,对被申请人可能造成较大负面影响。因此,一旦符合法定条件,即应及时解除保全措施,避免被申请人的财产遭受损失。那么,究竟应由谁来负责启动解除程序呢?跟第二个问题一样,这个问题的实质是诉讼参与方的责任分配,因此十分敏感和重要。

在(2019)渝01民终1580号"因申请诉中财产保全损害责任纠纷"二审案 8中,被上诉人王某于2016年将上诉人某房地产公司等三家公司起诉。2016年11月,王某申请查封某房地产公司名下房产,一审法院遂裁定并查封了该房产。

但 2016年11月25日,王某未按法院要求的期限交纳诉讼费,法院遂裁定该案件按撤诉处理。

其后,双方均未提出解除保全申请。直到2017年5月,某房地产公司向一审法院申请解除保全,法院遂解除查封。其后,某房地产公司起诉王某,认为王某保全申请错误,要求赔偿损失。

一审法院认为王某当时并无义务主动申请解除保全,故驳回诉讼请求。某房地产公司遂提起上诉,形成本案。

但二审改判并支持了某房地产公司的赔偿请求。二审认为,本案王某未申请解除涉案房产保全的行为一直持续到2017年5月,即持续至《2016年财产保全司法解释》生效之后,故本案应适用该司法解释的规定。王某作为保全的申请人,未及时申请解除诉中保全,存在过错。根据《2016年财产保全司法解释》第23条第三款,结合某房地产公司被查封房屋的商品房属性等损失相关因素,二审判决王某应赔偿的损失计算标准为以2000万元为基数、以央行同期贷款利率为标准进行计算。

就目前的规定而言,无论出现何种解除保全的事由,解除保全的申请都应由保全的原申请人提出;如果原申请人未能及时提出解除保全申请,则可能向财产被采取保全措施的人承担赔偿责任,如同此案。如果申请人聘请了代理人,且未及时申请解除保全,代理人如果存在过错也应承担相应的赔偿责任。可见,解除保全的申请环节也是律师执业民商事诉讼的风险点之一。

话说回来,前述司法解释虽将申请解除保全措施的责任加在申请人一方,但其合理性值得怀疑。毕竟,与解除保全措施具有最直接、最密切利害关系者,应是财产被采取保全措施者,而非申请人,故被申请人理应承担最大的注意义务。要求申请人承担申请解除保全的义务,未免过于苛严,有失公平,其实际功效只能是吓阻、妨碍当事人提出财产保全申请,更不利于判决执行。从此角度看,将解除保全申请的义务赋予被申请人一方,似乎更为合理和公平。

Footnotes

1 《民事诉讼法》第一百条第一款:人民法院对于可能因当事人一方的行为或者其他原因,使判决难以执行或者造成当事人其他损害的案件,根据对方当事人的申请,可以裁定对其财产进行保全、责令其作出一定行为或者禁止其作出一定行为;当事人没有提出申请的,人民法院在必要时也可以裁定采取保全措施。

2 同上一注释。

3 本文使用的案例均摘自中国裁判文书网http://wenshu.court.gov.cn/, 2019年9月8日登陆。

:4 《民事诉讼法》第一百条第二款:人民法院采取保全措施,可以责令申请人提供担保,申请人不提供担保的,裁定驳回申请。

5 广州市中级人民法院审理,上诉人(原审原告):周某;被上诉人(原审被告):广东某大型律所;第三人:某保险公司及律师A。

6 例如,在北京市高级人民法院2011年调研报告《关于财产保全工作中存在的问题即对策的调查研究》中认为, "保全到期后,是由法院依职权启动续封程序,还是应由申请人申请续封,这一点必须明确,因为这决定了保全措施到期后没有续封,导致财产损失,究竟谁来承担责任的问题。" 该文在于《中国审判新闻月刊》2011年2月5日第60期。

7 参见钟君(南宁市青秀区法院)《财产保全制度实践问题思考》,载于《上海政法学院学报》,2014年9月第29卷第5期,第124页。

8 审理法院: 重庆市第一中级人民法院,上诉人(原审原告):重庆市某房地产开发有限公司;被上诉人(原审被告):王某。

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Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

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.

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