China: 从融资租赁交易的"融物性"谈特定条件下承租人的"租金拒付权"

Last Updated: 3 October 2019
Article by Zhou Ziqi, Chang Yating and Zhang Xuejiao
Most Read Contributor in China, September 2019

最近,《新京报》公众号的一篇文章《没收到设备,还要支付近7000万租金?超50家医院卷入融资租赁迷局》引发广泛关注。在融资租赁法律关系中,作为承租人的医院并未收到或只收到一小部分作为融资租赁标的物的医疗设备,但是,因对法律的曲解或其他原因,使得医院在未收到货物的情况下提前签署《收货确认书》及《验收报告》,出租人将该等文件作为证据提交至法院,法院依法判定承租人向出租人支付租金及未付费用。

本案牵涉医院众多,因涉嫌合同诈骗,目前公安机关已立案。抛开刑事层面不谈,仅就民商事法律关系角度,出租人对于租赁标的物存在瑕疵是否负有责任?负有何等责任?出租人按照现有法律承担的责任是否能够平衡出租人与承租人之间的利益?在租赁物数量存在瑕疵的情形下,承租人应否享有"租金拒付权"?等等均系值得探究的问题。本文将基于融资租赁交易的属性之一"融物性"阐述出租人对于标的物瑕疵担保义务暨对承租人权益的保护。

一、"融物性"是融资租赁交易的根本属性

学界对于融资租赁交易的属性存在不同的学说和主张,如租赁说、借贷交易说、动产交易担保说、附条件买卖说等等,但是,无论争论如何纷繁,目前学术界和实务界相对趋同的认知是融资租赁交易同时兼具"融资性"与"融物性"两种属性。《中华人民共和国合同法》第二百三十七条对"融资租赁合同"的界定是出租人根据承租人对出卖人、租赁物的选择,向出卖人购买租赁物,提供给承租人使用,承租人支付租金的合同。根据该等条款界定,融资租赁包含两项交易,即买卖与租赁。出租人根据承租人的指示购买租赁标的物,完成买卖交易;出租人将该等租赁标的物交付承租人使用,承租人利用租赁物的使用价值并向出租人支付租金。在这个过程中,出租人以资金成本获取租赁利润及标的物的所有权,承租人以租金成本获取标的物的使用权及缓解资金流动性困境或利用"杠杆"促动生产。笔者认为,在融资租赁交易中,"融物性"是基础和根本,如果没有租赁标的物,"买卖"环节随之减少,剥离"出售方",则融资租赁交易中仅剩下两方主体,即出租人与承租人,而租赁标的物的缺失,将使得交易双方之间褪去"租赁"的介质,从而直接导致该等交易演化为"借贷"交易。从这个角度讲,"融物性"直接决定着融资租赁交易的本质属性。

二、租赁物存在瑕疵时法院判决的主要观点

通常来讲,租赁物瑕疵可以区分为数量瑕疵与质量瑕疵。在本文中,租赁物"瑕疵"专指数量瑕疵。

对于租赁物存在数量瑕疵的情况,笔者检索了两个主要事实相似度较高(即租赁物完全不存在或者只有小部分交付承租人),但判决结果却截然不同的判例。 判例一即为近来引发关注的远程医疗公司作为供货商,各不同融资租赁公司作为出租人,医院作为承租人的判决,比如(2018)辽0202民初7836号判决、(2018)京02民终11152号等。这类案件涉及到的基本事实均是:供货商并未按照买卖合同约定向承租人交付医疗设备,因买卖合同中约定由承租人直接向供货商主张权益,出租人不承担与货物交付相关的任何责任。因此,在承租人未支付租金的情况下,出租人诉至法院,要求其承担支付租金及相关费用。法院则多半认可融资租赁法律关系的存在,并认定承租人(医院)在明知未收到全部或绝大部分租赁物的情况下,仍向融资租赁公司(出租人)出具租赁物签收证明,存在明显过错,从而支持出租人的诉讼请求。判例二(2013)一中民初字第10011号判决涉及到售后回租交易,因租赁物散落在全国各地的建筑工地,出租人并未核查租赁物存在与否,仅仅核查了与该等租赁物相关的购买发票,而法院认定该等发票均为虚假发票。因此,法院认为出租人在审核租赁物时存在过错并最终认定该合同名为融资租赁合同,实为借贷法律关系,并按照借贷法律关系的属性部分支持了出租人关于本金、利息、违约金的诉讼请求。

如上的两种判例中,事实与法律认定方面的共性在于:两类案件名义上均为融资租赁交易、承租人均不占有租赁物或不完全占有租赁物(即租赁物存在瑕疵)。区别在于:第一,判例一中的卖方与承租人并非同一人,而判例二中卖方与承租人为同一人(系售后回租交易);第二,判例一中法院认定承租人明知未收到租赁物的情况下仍向出租人出具租赁物签收证明,存在明显过错;而判例二中法院则认定出租人在审核租赁物时因未尽到审慎义务致使对于租赁物不存在这一基本事实完全不知情存在过错;第三,判例一法院认定合同性质为融资租赁合同,判例二法院认定合同性质为名为融资租赁合同,实则为借贷合同。

如上两个判例中,承租人均未占有租赁物,但是法院判决结果完全不同。从如上判例的审理思路和判决结论可知,对于租赁物的存在与否,主要考量该等租赁物是否自始不存在。如判例二,对于售后回租法律关系,租赁物本应由承租人所有,出售给出租人并从出租人处租回使用,但是自融资租赁关系初始,承租人既未实际拥有租赁物(即租赁物自始不存在),转移租赁物的所有权于出租人更是无从谈起,亦使融资租赁法律关系失去了存在的基石。在判例二中,尽管承租人明知租赁物明显不存在,仍与出租人建立融资租赁法律关系,存在过错(且不去考虑背后的特殊安排,如有),但是,法院仍然认定,作为租赁物的受让方及出租方,出租人未尽到审慎核查的义务,基于租赁物自始不存在,判决该等交易名为融资租赁,实为借贷法律关系。而对于判例一,承租人从未收到供货商应当提供的货物,但未收到货物仅系因供货商的违约行为造成的,并不意味着该等租赁物自始不存在。因此,法院认定该等交易为融资租赁法律关系。

尽管两个判例中,法院均未支持承租人关于"租金拒付权"的主张,但是,判例二中,法院认为:在融资租赁合同中,出租人应当保证承租人对租赁物的占有和使用。对于售后回租合同,其成立并生效还要求承租人须预先拥有设备的所有权,出租人须确切知道租赁物的存在并对租赁物有足够的了解。本院认为,青岛分公司明知无租赁设备却仍与外贸租赁公司签订《融资租赁合同》,而外贸租赁公司亦未对《融资租赁合同》项下租赁物尽到谨慎核实的注意义务而径行签订《融资租赁合同》,且涉案租赁物非真实存在,故本案双方签订的合同不具备融资租赁合同的特征,双方不构成融资租赁合同法律关系。本案《融资租赁合同》仅符合了"融资"的要求,而无"融物"的内容,故涉案《融资租赁合同》实为借贷合同。

显而易见,判例二的观点认为,出租人应当保证承租人对于租赁物的占有和使用,出租人对于"租赁物"是否真实存在负有相应的责任。

小议租赁物存在瑕疵时承租人是否应当享有"租金拒付权"

根据《最高人民法院关于审理融资租赁合同纠纷案件适用法律问题的解释》(法释〔2014〕3号)第六条的规定,承租人对于租赁物存在瑕疵对出卖人行使索赔权,仍应履行融资租赁合同项下向出租人支付租金的义务,只有在承租人依赖出租人的技能确定租赁物、出租人干预选择租赁物的,承租人有权拒绝履行租金支付的义务。

那么,对于如同上述的比较极端的案例,承租人并未收到租赁物,从未占有和使用过租赁物,其是否应当被赋予行使租金拒付权呢?以下,我们作一简要讨论:

首先,融资租赁合同项下,承租人的买受行为系基于出租人的授权

根据《合同法》第二百三十七条对"融资租赁合同"的界定,由承租人选择出卖人、租赁物,但是仍由出租人向出卖人购买租赁物并提供给承租人使用,承租人支付租金。《合同法》第一百三十条规定,买卖合同是出卖人转移标的物的所有权于买受人,买受人支付价款的合同。从这个角度说,融资租赁合同项下的"买卖交易"的当事人应为买受人(出租人)与出卖人,出卖人将租赁物的所有权转移给买受人(出租人),买受人支付价款给出卖人。而在直租交易中,一旦将买卖合同关系嵌入融资租赁合同,惯常的做法是实际的买受人(出租人)授权承租人作为买卖合同的主体购买租赁物,并负责与租赁物瑕疵(包括数量瑕疵与质量瑕疵)相关的追索权。但是,无论如何,在承租人与出卖人之间并不存在直接的法律关系,这种法律关系的建立是由出租人作为买受人赋予承租人接收租赁物的授权行为间接实现的。

其次,保证承租人对于租赁物的占有和使用是出租人的主要义务

诚如上述,融资租赁法律关系的本质属性之一是"融物性"。融资租赁交易中承租人的根本目的是取得租赁物的使用权。 [1] 如果没有租赁物,出租人与承租人之间的法律关系即难以维系。因此,保证承租人对于租赁物的实际占有和使用是出租人的主要义务。

再次,租赁物的数量瑕疵并非需要凭借专业技能完成的事项

实践中,融资租赁法律关系中对应的租赁物均是相对复杂、规模较大、价值较高的设备,且与承租人实际从事的经营活动相关联。因此,由出租人授权承租人检验租赁物的质量瑕疵是更易操作、更为可行的做法。但是,对于确认租赁物的数量(即租赁物的有无及配件是否齐全)并非需要特殊专业技能才能完成的事项,而基于出租人才是真正意义上的租赁物的所有权人,其对于租赁物是否真实获取有着更高的关注度,亦有能力确认租赁物是否被承租人真实占有和使用。

基于上述几点理由,我们认为,租赁物存在数量瑕疵时(即租赁物全部或绝大部分未被承租人真实占有和使用)应当赋予承租人行使"拒付租金"的权利。

具体到如上的判例,尽管承租人并未真实占有、使用租赁物,但是,因其出具了确认签收租赁物的文件,法院据此判令承租人向出租人支付租金,系依照现行有效的证据规则及司法解释作出的判决,无可厚非。但是,从实质公平的角度而言,在融资租赁法律关系中,承租人与"租赁物的使用价值"应当是合二为一的,后者的缺失,将直接导致前者丧失其本应通过融资租赁法律关系获得的最大收益,亦使得融资租赁交易属性之一的"融物性"不复存在。

我们知道,在实践中,存在着一种模式:即由出租人寻找合作供货商,并由双方共同促成融资租赁交易。出租人与供货商共同或分别寻找承租人,并与承租人在同一时点签订买卖合同及融资租赁合同。而多数承租人没有完善的合同审核部门,其对冗长、枯燥的融资租赁合同及配套文件并无太多耐心,亦无应有的风险意识。因此,实践中,存在着签订买卖合同的时点,即使未实际收到租赁物亦同时签署了《收货确认书》等文件。而《收货确认书》、《所有权转移确认书》的签署,则意味着即便在承租人并未真实占有租赁物的情形下,其仍然需要向出租人支付租金,且在行使买卖合同项下的索赔权时,同样会遇到法律障碍,这将实质上使得承租人陷入不利处境。

亚里士多德认为,公正就是合比例,不公正就是破坏比例。具体到法律的层面,我们认为,"比例"就是当事人权利义务的分配尺度,如果权利义务分配得当,则距离公正日益趋近,不然,则渐行渐远。

综上所述,既然在司法实践中,由于租赁物的数量瑕疵导致大量诉讼产生,且有可能涉嫌刑事犯罪,那么,为了避免或者减少这种状况,我们建议在未来修律(含实体法、程序法)时充分考虑将承租人是否真实收到、占有、使用租赁物作为出租人的主要义务之一并将举证责任分配至出租人,避免出租人以"合同中已经约定,承租人不得以未收到租赁物作为拒付租金的抗辩理由"为由,否认承租人在未真实占有、使用租赁物时的"租金拒付权"。

文中引用:

[1]王轶:《租赁合同  融资租赁合同》[M]. 北京.法律出版社,1999.156.

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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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