계약이행 의무자의 귀책사유(고의 또는 과실)가 있는 경우 의무자는 상대방에 대해 계약불이행에 대한 손해배상책임은 부담합니다. 그런데 당사자의 귀책사유 없이 계약상 의무를 이행할 수 없게 된 경우라면 이행의무자에게 손해배상책임을 지울 수 없습니다.

 

그렇다면, 이때 발생하는 손실을 당사자 사이에 누구에게, 어떻게 배분할 것인가에 관한 문제를 위험부담이라고 합니다. 참고로 합법적 행위로 발생한 손실을 보전해 주는 것을 ‘보상’이라 하고, 불법적 행위로 인해 발생한손해를 보전해 주는 것을 배상이라고 하여 서로 엄격하게 구별합니다.

 

법학 교과서에 나오는 위험부담의 사례로, 부동산 매매계약에서 목적건물이 당사자 쌍방의 귀책사유 없이 화재로 타서 없어진 경우, 건물소유자 매도인의 매수인에게 그 건물을 인도해 줄 의무가 이행불능이 되었고, 그 물건의 경제적 가치에 상당하는 손실이 발생한 경우입니다.

 

우리나라 민법 제390조 후문은 채무자의 고의 또는 과실 없이 채무를 이행하지 못한 경우 손해배상 책임을 지지 않도록 하고, 537조는쌍무계약의 당사자 일방의 채무가 당사자쌍방의 책임 없는 사유로 이행할 수 없게 된 때에는 채무자는 상대방의 이행을 청구하지 못한다.”고 규정합니다.

 

따라서, 위 사례에서 매도인은 귀책사유 없이 목적물을 인도할 수 없게 되었으므로 손해배상 책임이 없지만, 매수인으로부터 매매대금을 받을 수도 없으므로, 결국 최종적으로 경제적 손실을 매도인이 부담하게 됩니다.

 

다만 위험부담에 관한 민법규정들은 강행규정이 아니라 임의규정으로 봅니다. 따라서 계약 당사자간의 합의로 계약에서 달리 정할 수 있습니다. 법대로 채무자가 위험을 부담하고 대금청구권을 상실하도록 하려면 계약에서 특별히 언급할 필요가 없으나, 민법규정과 달리 채권자에게 위험을 부담하도록 계약서에서 명시할 수도 있습니다.

 

당사자의 책임 없는 사유로 의무를 이행할 수 없게 되는 경우로는 소위 불가항력(“Force Majeure”)이 대표적입니다. 불가항력은 채무자의 책임 없는 의무이행 장애로 인한 채무자의 법적 책임을 면제하는 사유입니다.

 

불가항력을 주장하여 자신이 부담하는 계약이행의 의무를 면할 수 있지만 그것이 최종적인 경제적 손실을 피할 수 있다는 의미는 아닙니다.

 

, 위 사례에서 화재라는 불가항력으로 인해 목적 건물을 인도할 의무를 면하지만, 건물을 잃었지만 매수인으로부터 받을 매매대금도 받지 못하게 되었기 때문입니다. 채무자의 면책이라는 표현을 과대 해석하면 안될 것입니다.

 

민법상 고의 과실 없이 불가항력으로 계약상 의무를 이행하지 못하게 된 경우 채무자는 손해배상책임을 면하지만(민법 제390조 후문), 상대방에게 대금지급을 청구할 수 없습니다(민법 제537). 채권자에게 발생한 손해가 계약대금보다 높다면 채권자에게 불리한 결과를 낳고, 그 반대라면 채무자에게 불리한 결과를 낳게 될 것입니다.

 

한편, 채무자가 계약에 따른 이행을 제공하는데도(계약 목적물의 인도 등) 채권자가 그 수령을 지체하거나 채권자의 고의 또는 과실로 채무자의 이행이 불가능하게 된 경우라면, 그로 인한 손실은 채권자가 부담하게 됩니다. 이 경우 채무자는 채권자에게 매매대금의 지급을 청구할 수 있습니다(민법 제538). , 위험부담이 이행지체에 원인을 제공한 상대방에게 이전되는 것입니다.

 

KASAN_코로나19 COVID-19 사태로 계약불이행에서 불가항력 등 귀책사유 없는 채무불이행과 발생한 손실의 부

 

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작성일시 : 2020. 3. 26. 17:00
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1. 계약당사자 채무자의 고의 또는 과실 없은 경우 - 책임면제 

 

민법 제390"채무자가 채무의 내용에 좇은 이행을 하지 아니한 때에는 채권자는 손해배상을 청구할 수 있다. 그러나 채무자의 고의나 과실 없이 이행할 수 없게 된 때에는 그러하지 아니하다."

 

당사자의 책임 없는 사유로 의무를 이행할 수 없게 되는 경우의 대표적 사례가 소위 불가항력(“Force Majeure”)입니다. 불가항력(Force Majeure)의 대표적 사례는 지진, 화산폭발 등 천재지변과 전쟁, 내란, 테러 등 비상사태를 들 수 있습니다.

 

2. 코로나19 방역을 위한 정부 또는 지자체의 강제조치 - 채무자의 고의 또는 과실 없음, 책임면제 

 

코로나19 감염병 방역을 위한 정부의 폐쇄조치가 계약불이행의 원인인 경우도 채무자의고의 또는 과실을 인정할 수 없습니다. 따라서 계약위반에 대한 책임을 물을 수 없는 경우 해당할 것입니다.

 

정부의 개성공단 폐쇄조치로 인한 계약불이행 사안에서 채무자의 손해배상 책임을 부정한 서울중앙지방법원 2017. 5. 5. 선고 2016가합551507 판결을 참고할 수 있습니다.

 

3. 코로나19 방역조치는 아니지만 스스로 판단하여 계약불이행한 경우 - 채무자의 고의 또는 과실 소지, 원칙적으로 책임면제 불가 

 

코로나 19 사안은 천재지변과는 구별되는 사회적 재난상황으로서 그 자체를 불가항력(force majeure)으로 인정할 가능성은 낮습니다. 불가항력은 채무자의 채무불이행으로 인한 책임을 면제하고 그로 인한 손해를 상대방에게 전가하는 셈이 되므로 그 요건을 엄격하게 심사할 필요가 있습니다(서울고등법원 2014. 10. 30. 선고 20142006945 판결).

 

따라서, 원칙적으로 코로나19 유행을 이유로 일방적인 계약불이행의 경우 채무자의 계약상 책임, 손해배상 책임을 인정할 수 있습니다. 예를 들어 코로나19 때문에 예약을 취소하는 경우 특별한 약정이 없다면 계약에서 정한 위약금을 물어야 합니다.

 

4. 민법상 채무자 위험부담의 원칙 계약의 이행불능 상황에서 그 위험을 채무자가 부담하는 것 - 코로나19 관련 위험도 마찬가지 불가항력은 예외

 

우리 민법에서 채무자가 계약이 정상적으로 이행되지 못하면서 발생하는 위험을 부담한다는 채무자의 위험부담 원칙을 택하고 있습니다. 다만 위험부담에 관한 민법규정들은 강행규정이 아니라 임의규정으로 봅니다. 따라서 계약 당사자간의 합의로 계약에서 달리 정할 수 있습니다. 법대로 채무자가 위험을 부담하고 대금청구권을 상실하도록 하려면 계약에서 특별히 언급할 필요가 없으나, 민법규정과 달리 채권자에게 위험을 부담하도록 계약서에서 명시할 수도 있습니다.

 

한편, 고의 과실 없이 불가항력으로 인한 계약불이행의 경우 예외적으로 채무자는 손해배상책임을 면합니다(민법 제390조 후문). 반면, 그 상황에서 채무자는 상대방에게 대금지급을 청구할 수 없습니다(민법 제537). 채권자에게 발생한 손해가 계약대금보다 높다면 채권자에게 불리한 결과를 낳고, 그 반대라면 채무자에게 불리한 결과를 낳게 될 것입니다.

 

코로나19 사안 자체가 계약불이행의 불가항력적 원인으로 인정되려면, 그 원인이 채무자의 지배영역 밖에서 발생한 사건으로서 채무자가 통상의 수단을 다해도 이를 방지하는 것이 불가능하였음이 인정되어야합니다(대법원 2007. 8. 23. 선고 200559475, 59482, 59499 판결 등 참조).

 

코로나19 유행이 훨씬 악화되어 계약이행 자체가 감염병의 확산에 매우 치명적인 것으로 평가되어 당사자로서는 계약을 불이행할 수밖에 없는 상황이고, 그와 같은 계약불이행 행위가 사회적으로 정당하다고 평가되는 상황에 이른다면 불가항력으로 평가될 수 있는 가능성도 있습니다. 매우 심각한 상황을 상정할 수 있지만, 그와 같은 상황이라면 정부의 강제적 방역조치로 인한 면책사유가 될 가능성이 더 높습니다.

 

결국 코로나19 사안에서 정부나 지자체의 방역을 위한 강제조치가 아니라면 계약당사자의 판단으로 임의로 계약불이행으로 나가면 채무불이행에 따른 위약금 책임, 손해배상 책임을 부담하게 될 것입니다.

 

KASAN_코로나19, COVID-19 사태로 인한 계약불이행과 불가항력 법리 적용 여부 - 채무자의 계약불이행,

 

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작성일시 : 2020. 3. 26. 15:32
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링크: COVID-19 Contractual performance Force Majeure clauses and other options: a global perspective - PRC

 

1. Does this jurisdiction imply a concept of Force Majeure into commercial contracts, or do the parties need to negotiate the provision?

 

PRC implies a concept of Force Majeure into commercial contracts. The PRC Contract Law also respects the principle of freedom of contract and it is very common for contracting parties to agree a contractual definition of Force Majeure.

 

2. If implied, what is the legal basis for this and what is the scope of the implied provision?

 

Force Majeure is codified in Article 180 of the General Rules of the Civil Law of the PRC and Article 117 of the PRC Contract Law, which define Force Majeure as "the objective circumstances that are unforeseeable, unavoidable and insurmountable".

 

3. For a contract without a Force Majeure provision, what options does a party have where its ability to perform its obligations has been affected by COVID-19? Is that different for contracts for services and contracts for the provision of goods?

 

A party may claim Force Majeure under the aforementioned statutory provisions.

 

4. How are the courts likely to assess whether COVID-19 qualifies as a Force Majeure event?

 

Although government statements and local court notices are not binding to all cases, they may be persuasive. The following are some examples of recent statements and local court notices that could be considered:

 

- A spokesperson for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress Standing Committee is reported to have stated on 10 February 2020 that if parties are unable to perform their contractual obligations due to the government measures relating to COVID-19, they should be allowed to claim Force Majeure relief in accordance with the PRC Contract law.

 

- The First Civil Division of Higher People's Court of Zhejiang Province is also reported to have issued a notice stating that a Force Majeure could be established if: (i) the failure of performance is directly caused by administrative measures taken by the government to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic; or (ii) it is fundamentally impossible for a party to perform its obligation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In case Force Majeure cannot be established, the court may consider applying the principal of fairness and the principle of circumstance change if it is apparently unfair for a party to continue performing its obligations, or the contract purpose cannot be realized due to COVID-19.

 

5. What are the potential effects of exercising Force Majeure rights?

 

The contractual provision will prevail. Further, there are two possible remedies under PRC Contract Law. A party impacted by a Force Majeure event may be exempted from performance as result of such Force Majeure event, and either party may terminate the contract if the contract's purpose is impossible to perform due to the Force Majeure event.

 

6. If a party cannot rely on a Force Majeure clause or other legal option, what is the contractual position?

 

A party may have rights under the statutory Force Majeure provisions as discussed above, if there is no Force Majeure clause in the contract.

 

In case a party cannot rely on the contractual clause or the statutory provisions (i.e. a Force Majeure cannot be established), a party may seek to obtain a variation of the contract based on the principle of fairness and the principle of circumstance change (a principle under PRC law which is similar to rebus sic stantibus) where it is considered unfair for such party to continue performing its obligation, or the contract purpose cannot be realized due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, courts are generally more reluctant to apply such principles as compared to Force Majeure relief.

 

Where Force Majeure cannot be established and the court decides that the principles of fairness and change of circumstance are applicable, then the failure of (or delay in) performing certain obligations under the contract will constitute a contractual breach, unless the contract provides otherwise.

 

KASAN_중국변호사의 영문버전 포스팅 - 코로나19, COVID-19 사태와 국제계약의 계약불이행 관련 중국법원의

 

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작성일시 : 2020. 3. 26. 09:29
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링크: COVID-19 Contractual performance Force Majeure clauses and other options: a global perspective

 

국제계약의 불가항력 조항 검토 포인트 - Reviewing a Force Majeure clause

 

The review of an express Force Majeure provision might include considering the following questions:

- Are we the affected party or the unaffected party?

- Is COVID-19 a type of event that triggers the relevant clause? Obvious possibilities include a "disease", an "epidemic" or a "pandemic". Some clauses include sweeping language such as "any event or circumstance beyond the reasonable control of the affected party" while others are limited to major events such as earthquake, war, explosion, fire and flood. Governmental action is another particularly helpful category for affected providers.

- Is the waiver of obligations limited to failures due to a Force Majeure event or only those that could not have been prevented through reasonable means (such as workaround plans)?

- Must performance be "prevented" (essentially impossible) or is it sufficient for performance to be "delayed" or "hindered" for the clause to excuse contractual obligations?

- What is the impact of the party's own actions in contributing to its inability to perform? For instance, if it has imposed a travelban that has meant it is unable to perform, does that limit its ability to rely on the Force Majeure clause?

- When should notice be given? Should it be when there is an actual impact, or a possible impact? Does giving notice have adverse contractual effects, such as beginning a period for correction and restoration of full performance?

- Is there an obligation to take steps to mitigate the consequences of the event? If so, which party has (or which parties have) that obligation? Are they described in the contract (such as a specific disaster recovery or business continuity plan)?

- Is there an obligation to report to the other party on a continuing basis as to the steps being taken and/or the expected impact of the event?

- Does either party have the right to terminate or delay performance of the contract if the clause has been invoked? If so, after how long?

 

KASAN_코로나19, COVID-19 사태로 국제계약의 계약불이행 관련 불가항력 Force Majeure 조항 관

 

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작성일시 : 2020. 3. 26. 09:23
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Force Majeure (FM) Test/Causation

A FM event is an objective event or situation which is (1) unforeseeable (at the time of entering into the contract), (2) unavoidable in terms of occurrence or impact and (3) impossible to overcome.

 

There must be a causal link between the FM event and the affected party's failure to perform (i.e., the affected party must establish that the FM event must have caused the non-performance). It's not necessarily required that the FM event must be the direct cause immediately resulting in the non-performance. If there are too many steps between the FM event and the non-performance it will be difficult for the affected party to satisfy causation.

 

Recommended Actions 실무적 대응방안

 

If, whether as buyer or supplier, you have entered into commercial contracts that have or may be affected by the outbreak, we recommend the following actions:

Review each contract carefully, with particular regard to the governing law and FM provisions, including any time bars or other procedural requirements.

Form a preliminary view on whether any FM provision is "open" or exhaustive in relation to the list of FM events and whether the outbreak and/or resulting government crisis measures are covered/excluded.

If you may need to invoke a claim, consider your obligation to mitigate the effect on non-performance and what steps you can take. Starting a mindful dialogue with the counterparty may be an important part of the process.

Consider any potential flow on effects from the invoking of a claim such as termination of the contract.

 

Aside from your legal position, there are generally going to be several other important matters of concern:

For a counterparty who receives a FM claim they do not think is valid, there is the issue of enforcement of the contract, particularly if it does not provide for international arbitration.

There are the reputational risks and potential damage to long-term supply relationships with foreign buyers and suppliers. Even where there is no legal basis for FM relief, parties who receive FM claims may wish to be flexible about amending or restructuring (e.g. by postponing deliveries) the contract to accommodate the affected party.

Declaring FM or receiving a FM claim may impact on insurance arrangements.

Buyers who are part of a chain of supply contracts may themselves need to declare FM in response to a supplier's declaration in order to avoid being in breach. Each contract in the chain may of course be on different terms or subject to entirely different governing laws and this can create substantial challenges for the buyer, especially where their downstream contract has less favourable (or no) FM provisions. There may also be separate time bars or other procedural requirements as above.

 

Examples of steps companies might actively consider taking now (and seek to ensure that counterparties are taking) include: securing alternate supply streams in the event a supplier’s operations are impacted; planning for how employees can continue working remotely, or how functions can be transferred to other locations, in the event of quarantines and business closures; and mitigating the impact of restricted travel both around the globe and within countries. Even if such steps are not successful in avoiding the need to declare a force majeure, a company’s attempt to mitigate its risk in advance will be highly relevant to a court’s determination of whether reasonable steps were taken to continue to satisfy contractual obligations, and whether performance was truly impossible. Affirmative measures to help ensure a company is prepared for the possibility of business interruption resulting from COVID-19 include a careful review of insurance policies that may cover such an event.

 

KASAN_코로나19, COVID-19 사태로 계약불이행 관련 불가항력 Force Majeure 적용 여부, 국제계

 

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작성일시 : 2020. 3. 26. 09:16
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Force Majeure Test/Causation

A FM event is an objective event or situation which is (1) unforeseeable (at the time of entering into the contract), (2) unavoidable in terms of occurrence or impact and (3) impossible to overcome.

 

There must be a causal link between the FM event and the affected party's failure to perform (i.e., the affected party must establish that the FM event must have caused the non-performance). It's not necessarily required that the FM event must be the direct cause immediately resulting in the non-performance. If there are too many steps between the FM event and the non-performance it will be difficult for the affected party to satisfy causation.

 

Recommended Actions

 

If, whether as buyer or supplier, you have entered into commercial contracts that have or may be affected by the outbreak, we recommend the following actions:     

    

Review each contract carefully, with particular regard to the governing law and FM provisions, including any time bars or other procedural requirements.

Form a preliminary view on whether any FM provision is "open" or exhaustive in relation to the list of FM events and whether the outbreak and/or resulting government crisis measures are covered/excluded.

If you may need to invoke a claim, consider your obligation to mitigate the effect on non-performance and what steps you can take. Starting a mindful dialogue with the counterparty may be an important part of the process.

Consider any potential flow on effects from the invoking of a claim such as termination of the contract.

    

    Aside from your legal position, there are generally going to be several other important matters of concern:

 

For a counterparty who receives a FM claim they do not think is valid, there is the issue of enforcement of the contract, particularly if it does not provide for international arbitration.

There are the reputational risks and potential damage to long-term supply relationships with foreign buyers and suppliers. Even where there is no legal basis for FM relief, parties who receive FM claims may wish to be flexible about amending or restructuring (e.g. by postponing deliveries) the contract to accommodate the affected party.

Declaring FM or receiving a FM claim may impact on insurance arrangements.

Buyers who are part of a chain of supply contracts may themselves need to declare FM in response to a supplier's declaration in order to avoid being in breach. Each contract in the chain may of course be on different terms or subject to entirely different governing laws and this can create substantial challenges for the buyer, especially where their downstream contract has less favourable (or no) FM provisions. There may also be separate time bars or other procedural requirements as above.

 

     Examples of steps companies might actively consider taking now (and seek to ensure that counterparties are taking) include: securing alternate supply streams in the event a supplier’s operations are impacted; planning for how employees can continue working remotely, or how functions can be transferred to other locations, in the event of quarantines and business closures; and mitigating the impact of restricted travel both around the globe and within countries. Even if such steps are not successful in avoiding the need to declare a force majeure, a company’s attempt to mitigate its risk in advance will be highly relevant to a court’s determination of whether reasonable steps were taken to continue to satisfy contractual obligations, and whether performance was truly impossible. Affirmative measures to help ensure a company is prepared for the possibility of business interruption resulting from COVID-19 include a careful review of insurance policies that may cover such an event.

 

 

KASAN_코로나19 관련 불가항력 Force Majeure 여부 및 국제거래, 무역거래 계약당사자의 실무적 대응방

 

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작성일시 : 2020. 3. 9. 16:00
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