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新加坡法律体系中的不可抗力与合同落空及其判例

新加坡法律体系中的不可抗力与合同落空及其判例

由于新冠疫情及国际贸易环境大变局的深度影响,我们服务的诸多海内外客户都面临跨境跨法域法律制度与法律文化的差异及冲突。本文简单总结新加坡法律体系中的”不可抗力”与”合同落空”法律原则及其判例参考。

跟我们熟知的中国法律体系不同,新加坡契约法中并没有所谓的“不可抗力”(Force Majeure)法律原则。新加坡法律中也并没有与“不可抗力”相关的规定。

在新加坡法律体系下,某一事件是否可以被认定为“不可抗力”完全取决于双方的意思自治,即双方是否在合同中就“不可抗力”事项进行约定。

以下为一个新加坡法律体系下常用的Force Majeure常用条款,”Any delay in or failure of performance of either party, except in relation to obligations to make payment under this contract, hereto shall not constitute default hereunder or give rise to any claim for damages if and to the extent such delay or failure of performance is caused by any occurrences beyond the control of the party affected including, but not limited to, acts of God (such as fire, floods, earthquakes, storm, landslide, etc.), heavy rain, effect of climate and/ or weather anomaly, adverse weather or sea conditions, act of the public enemy, expropriation or confiscation of facilities, compliance with any order or request of any governmental authority, and/ or alteration of any government policy(ies), war (declared or undeclared), mobilization, currency restriction, insurrections, terrorism, breakdowns of or damage to mine, plant, port facilities, civil commotion, riots, strikes, labor stoppages, epidemic, pandemic, lockouts or any causes of the same class or kind as those specifically above noted which are not within the reasonable control of the party affected. If the state force majeure persists for more than 60 days, either party will have the right to refuse further performance of the contract in which case neither party shall have the right to claim eventual damages.”

若双方在合同中已对“不可抗力”加以约定,且就该条款的适用产生纠纷,合约双方可以将争议提交新加坡法院,而新加坡法院对于合同中“不可抗力”条款的态度与其他条款并无不同,因为对于某一件事是否可以被定义为“不可抗力”完全取决于当事人双方在合同中的约定。

新加坡上诉庭在 RDC Concrete Pte Ltd v Sato Kogyo (S) Pte Ltd and another appeal [2007] 4 SLR(R) 41 [57]再次重申了新加坡法院对于 “不可抗力“的定义:

“What is referred to as force majeure in our law (as opposed to French law from which that term originates) is really no more than a convenient way of referring to contractual terms that the parties have agreed upon to deal with situations that might arise, over which the parties have little or no control, that might impede or obstruct the performance of the contract. There can therefore be no general rule as to what constitutes a situation of force majeure. Whether such a (force majeure) situation arises, and, where it does arise, the rights and obligations that follow, would all depend on what the parties, in their contract, have provided for. [emphasis added]”

尽管新加坡法律体系中没有“不可抗力”的法律原则和法律规定,但新加坡法律体系中的“合同落空”原则(Doctrine of Frustration)原则与“不可抗力”相类似。

新加坡法系和英格兰法系对立“合同落空”的法律原则基本相同。在 RDC Concrete Pte Ltd v Sato Kogyo (S) Pte Ltd and another appeal [2007] 4 SLR(R) 41 的案例里,新 加坡上诉法院在 [59] 引用了英格兰法院对于“合同落空”法律原则的定义:

“Frustration occurs whenever the law recognizes that without the default of either party- a contractual obligation has become incapable of being performed because the circumstances in which performance is called for would render it a thing radically different from that which was undertaken by the contract. ”

所以说,导致“合同落空”的事件也必须导致情势变更且使合同的某一方无法继续履行合同下的义务。需要注意的是,该事件必须要导致合约义务完全无法履行才会被新加坡法院认定为“合同落空”。如果该事件只是导致合约延迟履行,该事件就不会被认定为“合同落空”。

另外,还需注意,在新加坡法律体系下,合同双方可以通过约定的方式对“合同落空”原则加以限制或排除。

对于那些选择新加坡法律作为”GOVERNING LAW”的 SALE AND PURCHASE AGREEMENT,交易双方BUYER AND SELLER 要特别注意新加坡法律体系与中国大陆法律体系在”不可抗力”、”情势变更”以及”合同落空”等法律原则方面的异同。选择英联邦其他成员国法律体系的国际交易,同样会与遇到上述问题。

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Harvey Yan

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