China: 涉外合同中或裁或诉条款的效力

Last Updated: 4 January 2018
Article by John Liu and Minli Tang

一、或裁或诉条款

或裁或诉条款是指合同双方在争议解决条款中赋予当事人在诉讼与仲裁之间有一定的灵活选择权,比较典型的或裁或诉条款有:

1. 灵活选择仲裁或诉讼

比如当事人约定如有争议发生,既可提交仲裁也可提起诉讼。又或是仅赋予一方当事人以选择权,争议发生后由该当事人选择通过仲裁还是诉讼方式解决争议。

该种方式在国际商事合同中也经常出现,一般称为optional clause。其中又以第二种方式为多,即仅赋予一方当事人有权选择是否提交仲裁,称为one-sided arbitration clause或是asymmetric arbitration clause(为行文方便,特将该类条款称为"单边选择性仲裁条款")。

单边选择性仲裁条款在国际融资交易中十分常见。该类交易中贷款/投资方在交易中往往拥有较强的议价能力,因此会为自身争取最为有利、更有主导权的争议解决条款。以此在争议发生后可综合考虑诉讼与仲裁成本、法院判决/仲裁裁决的执行力等问题,再行选择最为有利的争议解决方式。

2. 约定仲裁后仍旧可以起诉

该种形式并非让双方当事人在诉讼与仲裁中二选一,而是将诉讼作为一种解决争议的兜底形式。比如约定当事人之间如果仲裁不成、亦或是对仲裁结果有异议可以再行向法院起诉。该种约定试图突破"一裁终局"的基本原则。

二、或裁或诉条款在中国(中国大陆)的效力

我国法律目前明文规定在争议解决条款中诉讼与仲裁不能并存,并且明确仲裁的"一裁终局"性。

《最高人民法院关于适用《中华人民共和国仲裁法》若干问题的解释》第7条明确规定:"当事人约定争议可以向仲裁机构申请仲裁也可以向人民法院起诉的,仲裁协议无效"。《仲裁法》第9条第1款明确:"仲裁实行一裁终局的制度。裁决作出后,当事人就同一纠纷再申请仲裁或者向人民法院起诉的,仲裁委员会或者人民法院不予受理。"

需要特别注意的是,虽然法律明文规定或裁或诉条款下的仲裁协议无效,但并非毕然导致整个争议解决条款完全无效——其中关于诉讼管辖法院的约定只要符合法律规定仍然有效,双方可向约定有管辖权的法院提起诉讼。

如在江门市江磁电工企业有限公司与云南铜业股份有限公司买卖合同纠纷一案中,当事人约定:"凡因执行本协议所发生的一切争执,双方应友好协商解决,如果协商不能获得解决,则可选择仲裁,或者向合同签订所在地的人民法院通过诉讼解决。"纠纷发生后,最高人民法院在《江门市江磁电工企业有限公司与云南铜业股份有限公司买卖合同纠纷二审民事裁定书》中明确"该争议解决方式中关于仲裁的约定应当认定无效,但其中关于诉讼管辖条款的约定符合法律规定,仍然有效,对双方当事人具有约束力。" 1

三、或裁或诉条款在其他主要法域的效力

或裁或诉条款本身是一个较为复杂的问题,在不少法域下的效力尚未明确。本文由于篇幅有限,在此仅选择我国当事人在国际仲裁中较为常用的三大仲裁地,即英国、香港及新加坡,讨论在该三大法域下限于上述单边选择性仲裁条款的效力做举例分析。同时,针对一些其他法域,本文将做初步的概括性简介。

英国

较之一些其他法域,英国法 2更支持当事人在合同下的意思自治,且较为支持、提倡仲裁的法域,因而英国法下也承认单边选择性仲裁条款的效力。

事实上,英国法早在1986年就通过Pittalis v Sherefettin3一案明确了合同下仅赋予某一方当事人单方选择争议解决方式的条款是有效的,并未违反合同的"相互性(mutuality)"原则——因为即使是这样的条款仍旧是双方合意达成的,理应支持。然而,该案本身并未直接涉及单边选择性仲裁条款(案涉租房合同中规定租客可以单方将租房争议提交给第三方独立公证人裁判)。

不过,在之后的一系列相关案件中(NB Three Shipping Ltd v Harebell Shipping Ltd4Deutsche Bank AG v Tongkah Harbour Public Co Ltd Deutsche Bank AG v Tungkum Ltd5等),英国法院都多次肯定了单边选择性仲裁条款的效力。

香港

因为历史原因,英国法对香港法影响颇大。因此,香港法院也较倾向于认定单边选择性仲裁条款有效性。在China Merchants Heavy Industry Co Ltd v. JGC Group6一案中,香港高等法院上诉庭援引了前述英国案件 Pittalis v Sherefettin维持了原诉庭的判决,认为仅赋予某一方当事人有权利选择是否将争议提交仲裁的合同条款( a clause in an agreement which gives only one of the parties the right to refer any dispute or difference to arbitration is an arbitration agreement)是有效的。

新加坡

在最近的一起典型案例, Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd v Wilson Taylor Asia Pacific Pte Ltd7中,双方在合同下约定:

Any claim or dispute [...] shall be settled amicably between the parties by mutual consultation. If no amicable settlement is reached through discussions, at the election of Dyna-Jet, the dispute may be referred to and personally settled by means of arbitration proceedings, which will be conducted under English Law; and held in Singapore.

即,明确在双方无法通过友好协商方式达成和解的话,则赋予一方当事人( Dyna-Jet)以单方面选择仲裁的权利。

该案中,新加坡上诉法院 8肯定了新加坡高院的判决,再次明确了单边选择性仲裁条款在新加坡法下的效力。

其他法域

在实践中,除上述三大法域就单边选择性仲裁条款的效力问题有较为明确的认定外,更多法域下的司法实践态度仍存在很大的不确定性,下述分类 9仅作一般参考,针对具体案件还应当做个案分析:

  • 基本认定有效

尼日利亚、希腊、意大利

  • 认定无效的可能性较低

阿根廷、埃及、澳大利亚、奥地利、巴基斯坦、比利时、冰岛、博兹瓦纳、克罗地亚、赤道几内亚、德国、迪拜国际金融中心、芬兰、冈比亚、荷兰、几内亚、加拿大、美国、墨西哥、纳米比亚、南非、日本、瑞典、瑞士、乌塞浦路斯、苏丹、泰国、坦桑尼亚、突尼西亚、干达、乌克兰、约旦、西班牙。

  • 司法态度不明确

安哥拉、菲律宾、哈萨克斯坦、科威特、卢森堡、卢旺达、萨内加尔、斯洛伐克、斯洛文尼亚、越南。

  • 可能认定无效

阿联酋、巴西、韩国、捷克、毛里求斯、沙特阿拉伯、印度、印度尼西亚、匈牙利。

  • 更倾向于无效

波兰、法国、罗马尼亚、土耳其。

四、实务贴士

从上述分析可见,有关或裁或诉条款的效力问题在不同法域下或有相似、或又大相径庭。我国当事人在合同中约定此类条款时需要注意:

1、如仲裁条款适用中国法

则必须排除任何形式的或裁或诉条款,以免双方在争议发生后就此类争议解决条款提出管辖权异议,并最终被法院认定无效。

2、如仲裁条款适用外国法

除前述一些司法实践较为确定的法域外,仍旧不建议当事人约定任何形式的或裁或诉条款。

3、将管辖权异议提交中国法院后的外国法查明

当事人就适用外国法的或裁或诉条款在我国法院提出管辖权异议时,则建议主动提交相关外国法查明。在当事人无法自行提供的情况下,目前我国法院的司法实践多以"当事人未提供外国法的证明"为由而认定外国法无法查明,并进而依据中国法进行判定。

不过值得注意的是,在厦门建发化工有限公司 诉瑞士艾伯特贸易有限公司买卖合同纠纷案中,上海浦东新区人民法院在当事人无法就案涉或裁或诉条款在适用法(瑞士法)下的效力提供外国法查明的情况下,主动委托华东政法大学外国法查明中心进行外国法查明,并依据该中心出具的《法律意见书》作出了裁定。

该案被上海高级人民法院(下简称"上海高院")收录于《上海法院2012-2016涉外、涉港澳台商事审判白皮书及十大典型案例》,并于今年9月公开发布。上海高院认为:"查明外国法是我国法院和法官的职责,不能轻易以'无法查明外国法'为由而适用中国法。在当事人无法提供外国法,法院穷尽合理途径仍无法查明的情况下,才可以依据'无法查明外国法'的规定适用中国法。"

当事人可以依据本案,在自身难以举证外国法而又希望适用外国法时,及时请求法院依职权进行外国法查明。

免责声明

本文内容仅为提供信息之目的由作者制作,不应视为广告、招揽或法律意见。阅读、传播本文内容不以建立律师-委托人关系为目的,订阅本文也不构成律师-委托人关系。本文所包含的信息仅是作为一般性信息提供,作者及锦天城律师事务所均不对本文做日常性维护、修改或更新,故可能未反映最新的法律发展。读者在就自身案件获得相关法域内执业律师的法律意见之前,不要为任何目的依赖本文信息。作者及锦天城律师事务所均明确不承担因基于对本文任何形式的使用(包括作为或不作为)而产生的一切责任、损失或损害。

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Previously published in Lexology - 22 December 2017

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