China: 京都实务 | 关联企业合并破产那些事儿

Last Updated: 8 August 2019
Article by Meng Ice and Du Yaqi

我们代理的某金融机构诉其债务人借款合同纠纷案件的一审程序尚未完结,近日金融机构获悉债务人的控股股东经法院裁定进入破产清算程序。对此,金融机构向律师表达其担忧,控股股东破产是否会导致债务人与控股股东合并破产,从而导致金融机构债权减损。若如此,金融机构又有何救济途径?

  上述案例中客户之问题涉及关联企业的合并破产,目前,我国与破产相关的法律法规尚未对关联企业合并破产作出明确规定,仅《最高人民法院关于适用<中华人民共和国企业破产法>若干问题的规定(二)》(以下简称"《解释二》")第二十三条第(三)款对此有所涉及,该条具体规定为:"破产申请受理后,债权人就债务人财产向人民法院提起本规定第二十一条第一款所列诉讼的,人民法院不予受理。债权人通过债权人会议或者债权人委员会,要求管理人依法向次债务人、债务人的出资人等追收债务人财产,管理人无正当理由拒绝追收,债权人会议依据企业破产法第二十二条的规定,申请人民法院更换管理人的,人民法院应予支持。管理人不予追收,个别债权人代表全体债权人提起相关诉讼,主张次债务人或者债务人的出资人等向债务人清偿或者返还债务人财产,或者依法申请合并破产的,人民法院应予受理"。

  本文笔者将基于公司法理论,并结合2018年3月4日发布并生效的《全国法院破产审判工作会议纪要》(以下简称"《会议纪要》")详细论述关联公司合并破产制度。

  

关联企业及关联企业合并破产的含义

  

1、关于关联企业

  目前我国尚无直接规范关联企业的具体规定,仅《中华人民共和国公司法》(以下简称"《公司法》")第二百一十六条对关联关系作出规定,即 "关联关系,是指公司控股股东、实际控制人、董事、监事、高级管理人员与其直接或者间接控制的企业之间的关系,以及可能导致公司利益转移的其他关系"。鉴于此,笔者认为关联企业的认定标准可借鉴我国税法之规定,即《企业所得税法实施条例》第一百零九条与《税收征收管理法实施细则》第五十一条之规定,"关联方是指公司、企业、其他经济组织或者个人间构成以下任一关联关系的:(1)在资金、经营、购销等方面存在直接或者间接的控制关系;(2)直接或者间接地同为第三者控制;(3)在利益上具有相关联的其他关系"。

 

 2、关于关联企业合并破产

  首先,破产程序是指当企业具备《中华人民共和国企业破产法》(以下简称"《破产法》")所规定的破产原因时,通过破产清算、重整或和解程序(除特别说明,以下统称"破产程序")处理其债权债务关系,从而企业得以"死亡"或"重生"的程序,此也是单个企业的单独破产程序。

  其次,何为关联企业合并破产,即关联企业各成员企业均具备破产原因前提下,因满足特定的条件,通过合并破产程序,关联企业的各同类债权人在同一破产程序中按照该类债权统一的清偿标准及法定顺序就关联企业全部财产受偿,最终各成员企业统一完成"死亡"或"再生"的破产程序。笔者认为关联企业合并破产制度中,最基本的是各成员企业均具备破产原因这一前提,而最重要的则是满足特定的条件(后文将对此详细论述),否则关联企业合并破产无从谈起。

 

 关联企业合并破产的理论基础

  关联公司合并破产制度源于公司法理论之公司独立法人人格与公司法人人格否认制度。公司独立法人人格即公司作为法律拟制的人,具有独立的财产、组织结构、意志并独立地承担法律责任,而根据《公司法》第二十条之规定,公司法人人格否认制度为如公司股东滥用法人独立地位和股东有限责任,逃避债务,严重损害债权人利益的,公司股东应当对公司债务承担连带责任。公司独立法人人格是现代公司制度的发展基石,而公司法人人格否认制度作为一种救济措施,又是对公司独立法人人格的有益补充,二者相辅相成,缺一不可。

  具体到破产程序,笔者认为企业单独破产制度,实为公司独立法人人格在破产程序中的体现,而关联公司合并破产制度,恰恰又是公司法人人格否认制度在破产程序中的延续。合并破产制度之于单独破产制度,也应如公司法人人格否认制度之于公司独立法人人格,如此才能得以避免对于破产程序的不当利用,也有效防范关联企业财产的不当流失,更有助于法院与管理人从宏观上整体把握关联企业情况,从而得以从根本上解决全部债务问题,尽可能实现全体债权人的公平清偿。

 

 关联企业合并破产的操作路径

  关于关联企业合并破产的具体操作路径,目前除前述《解释二》第二十三条规定外,《会议纪要》第六条之规定最为详细。笔者将基于《会议纪要》与《司法解释二》从以下七个角度阐述关联企业合并破产案件的操作路径:

 

 1、关于审理原则

  《会议纪要》第32条明确规定,法院应首先对关联企业的成员企业是否均构成《破产法》之破产原因进行单独判断,强调优先尊重企业法人人格的独立性,优先遵循单独破产程序为基本原则,审慎适用关联企业合并破产,即单独破产为原则,合并破产为例外。

 

 2、关于管辖法院

  根据《会议纪要》第35条之规定,关联企业合并破产案件的管辖法院应优先适用核心控制企业住所地法院管辖,如无法确定核心控制企业,则以主要财产所在地法院管辖。如多个法院发生管辖权争议,报上一级法院指定管辖。

  

3、关于申请主体

  关于合并破产的申请主体,如前所述,《解释二》第二十三条规定个别债权人可代表全体债权人申请合并破产。

  笔者认为除上述规定的债权人外,债务人进入破产程序后的管理人也有权向法院申请关联企业合并破产。债务人进入破产程序之后,管理人负有调查债务人财产状况并审查债权债务关系之职务要求,如关联企业出现财产高度混同,且财产难以区分或区分成本过高,且可能发生关联企业不当利用关联关系从而导致财产流失,如不将关联企业全部纳入合并破产程序,管理人不仅无法全面且准确地核查债务人真实财产状况及债权债务关系,更可能造成债权人无法得到公平清偿,损害全体债权人合法权益。因此,管理人作为接管人,有义务基于关联企业实际情况向法院报告并申请合并破产。

 

 4、关于申请时间

  《解释二》第二十三条明确规定,破产申请受理后可向法院申请合并破产。对此,笔者认为,如关联企业满足合并破产条件的,根据是否已有成员企业进入单独破产程序,合并破产的申请时间应分为:

  (1)如已有成员企业进入单独破产程序,且尚未向债权人分配破产财产的,在此破产程序终结前,可随时向法院提出合并破产申请。

  (2)如尚无成员企业进入单独破产程序,相关人员可在发现关联企业满足合并破产条件时向法院申请合并破产。

  

5、关于法院的审查程序、范围与内容

  (1)关于法院审查程序

  根据《会议纪要》第33条之规定,法院收到合并破产的申请后,应当通知相关利害关系人并组织听证,且于收到申请之日起30日内作出裁定(注:听证时间不计入法院的审查期限)。

  (2)关于审查范围与内容

  根据《会议纪要》第32、33条之规定,法院应审查以下四要件:关联企业法人人格是否高度混同、区分各关联企业成员财产的成本是否过高、是否有益于提高债权人的整体清偿率、是否有利于增加重整成功的可能性,此即是构成合并破产之条件。

  上述四要件中关联企业法人人格是否高度混同为审查的核心要件,笔者认为该核心要件的衡量标准,可参考辽宁辉山乳业集团有限公司破产重整案件中法院所采用的四项衡量标准,即:①关联企业是否存在资产混同;②关联企业是否存在财务混同;③关联企业是否存在业务混同;④关联企业是否存在主要人员混同。

 

 6、关于相关利害关系人的救济途径

  根据《会议纪要》第34条之规定,如相关利害关系人不服法院作出的是否合并破产的裁定,可自收到裁定之日起15日内向作出裁定的法院的上一级法院申请复议。

  

7、关于合并破产的法律后果

  根据《会议纪要》第36、37条之规定,法院裁定关联企业合并破产后,关联企业之间的债权债务消灭,关联企业财产被统一合并为破产财产,供全体债权人在同一破产清算程序按顺序受偿,破产清算程序终结后,各成员企业均予以注销登记。如破产清算程序转为破产重整或和解的,除非和解计划或重整方案的实施需个别企业需保持其法人独立性(按照《公司法》企业分立之规则处理),原则上各成员企业应合并为一个企业。

  

 关联企业合并破产之建议

  笔者认为,目前关于关联企业合并破产的规定多为一般原则性规定,仍应进一步明确,具体如下:

 

 1、应进一步明确债务人、负有清算义务的人就关联企业之关联情况的举证义务

  针对关联企业合并破产的申请,法院需全面审查关联企业情况,并作出综合判断,但是实践中债权人或管理人往往难以掌握关联企业的全部情况,更难以向法院提交充分的证据供法院进行实质审查。

  因此,笔者认为在债权人或管理人提出合并破产申请后,债务人、负有清算义务的人负有向法院、管理人或债权人会议说明关联企业之关联情况并举证之义务,如此方可降低启动关联企业合并破产程序的难度,尽可能避免关联企业不当利用关联关系转移资产或逃避债务。

 

 2、应进一步明确利害关系人的范围

  (1)关于《会议纪要》第33条规定所涉相关利害关系人

  笔者认为听证程序中利害关系人应明确为各成员企业的董事、监事、高级管理人员。但是对于企业的财务、法务及业务人员,笔者认为上述人员应根据法院或管理人的要求参加听证,并负有如实陈述义务,此有利于法院全面掌握情况并提升程序效率。

  (2)关于《会议纪要》第34条中救济途径中所涉相关利害关系人

  

首先,关于此利害关系人的范围

  笔者认为此处中利害关系人不应包括企业的高级管理人员、财务、法务、业务等受聘于公司之人员,其范围应限于关联企业、股东与债权人。关联企业、股东与债权人对债务人享有的权益分别为所有权、股权与债权,关联企业是否合并破产对关联企业、股东及债权人有直接且重大的影响,如其合法权益被侵害的,法律理应明确给予救济途径。

 

 其次,关于协调审理程序视角下相关利害关系人的救济方式

  根据《会议纪要》第38条关联企业破产案件的协调审理之规定,关联企业的各成员企业均具备破产原因,但是不满足合并破产条件的,从而各成员企业分别适用单独破产案件,法院可基于程序协调、提高效率等因素,对各单独破产案件进行协调审理。

  笔者认为现有《会议纪要》第38条对于法院据以衡量关联企业适用协调审理还是合并破产标准规定尚属于原则性规定,并无实质性的判断标准。因此对于关联企业是否具备《会议纪要》第32、33条之合并破产要件难以判断时,为维护自身合法权益,笔者认为《会议纪要》第34条所涉相关利害关系人可基于《会议纪要》第38条之向法院主张适用协调审理或合并破产,此不失为利害关系人有效救济方式。

 

 3、应进一步明确实质合并破产的审查标准

  关于法院的审查标准,《会议纪要》第33条仅在法人人格混同程序、财产的区分成本、整体清偿率、重整可能性四个要件作出了一般原则性规定,但是实践中个案情况千差万别,因此个案中是否准予合并破产的衡量标准的确定与运用,更多地依赖于法官对于相关规定的理解,如缺少统一的衡量标准,可能造成同类案件的不同裁定的结果。笔者认为因财产区分成本、整体清偿率及重整可能性难以做出具有普适性的标准,此三个要件应以个案分析为主,但是对于法人人格混同及混同程度,应进一步从财务、资产、经营管理、业务经营、人员管理等多个方面作出详细规定。

 

 4、应进一步规范破产重整、和解程序中之例外规则

  《会议纪要》第37条规定关联企业合并破产重整或和解的,原则上所有成员企业合并为一个企业,例外情况下可根据重整计划或和解协议需要保持个别企业的法人独立性,并按照公司分立之规则处理。

  笔者认为,实践中关联企业间人格严重混同、且财产区分难以区分或成本过高也正是导致关联企业合并破产原因的两项因素,对于重整计划或和解协议需要保持个别企业的法人独立性的,除需按照公司分立之规则处理外,应明确要求重整计划或和解协议应就财产分割、债务承继、公司治理、发展规划、盈利分配等事宜作出周密且可行的方案,且管理人有义务向债权人作出详细说明,如此才可能真正挽救企业,使其彻底走出困境的。

  如上所述,目前我国尚无健全的关联企业合并破产制度,关联企业破产应以优先适用单独破产为原则,合并破产为例外。审查关联企业是否满足合并破产之要件时,应全面衡量关联企业情况,综合判断,在维护债权人合法权益与社会公共利益的同时,避免不当适用关联企业合并破产程序损害相关企业合法权益。

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In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

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.

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