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来源: 临时仲裁ADA 发布时间:2019-04-28 16:24:03

仲裁当事人关于法律适用问题的上诉得到法院部分支持

(香港高等法院案例)

2019年4月9日,在Maeda Corporation and the other v. Bauer Hong Kong Limited, [2019] HKCFI 916一案中(判决请见:阅读原文),仲裁一方当事人就仲裁裁决中关于分包合同(Sub-Contract)的两项法律适用问题提出上诉,香港高等法院对此作出认定:(1)关于当事人是否按照合同约定发出通知的问题,法院认定,本案被告未能根据分包合同第21.2条发出适当的通知,故仲裁员关于允许被告“类似权利”主张的决定存在法律上的错误(“the Defendant had failed to give proper notice under Clause 21.2, and that the Arbitrator’s decision to allow the Defendant’s claim of “like rights” was wrong in law.”);(2)关于分包合同中工程变更的估价问题,法院认定,无法认定仲裁员在该问题认定上存在误导,亦无法认定其作出的决定超出了其自身可接受的解决办法的范畴(“it cannot be said that the Arbitrator had misdirected himself in law, or that his decision was outside the permissible range of solutions which were open to him.”);(3)综上,法院决定同意原告关于第一项法律适用问题的上诉,驳回其关于第二项法律问题的上诉(“The appeal on the first question of law on notice compliance is allowed. The appeal on the second question of law on variation valuation is dismissed.”)。

一、案情介绍

本案原告Maeda Corporation(以下简称“原告”)是以香港地铁公司(MTRC)为雇主的主合同的主要承建商,为香港至广州快线兴建隧道。原告根据合同将防渗墙工程分包给本案被告Bauer Hong Kong Limited(以下简称“被告”)。后双方放生争议,被告将争议提交至仲裁,仲裁庭作出仲裁裁决。

针对仲裁庭于2018年1月3日作出的第二份临时裁决(Interim Award)(修改于2018年3月3日),原告向香港高等法院请求准予其就该仲裁裁决法律问题提出上诉。2018年8月30日,香港高等法院作出决定同意该请求。

原告就上述仲裁裁决的两项法律适用问题提出上诉,分别为:(1)根据当事双方签订的《分包合同》第21.1条和第21.2条规定,本案被告是否按约定发出作为前提的通知;(2)关于《分包合同》工程变更的估价是否符合合同约定(“(1) whether there was compliance with the condition precedents to give notice under Clause 21.1 and 21.2 of the Sub-Contract between the Plaintiffs and the Defendant; and (2) the valuation of variation of works under the Sub-Contract.”)。

关于法律适用问题,被上诉人提出,根据判例Kwan Lee Construction v Elevator Parts Engineering [1997] HKLRD 965,对法律问题提出上诉的适当标准应当是考虑是否有必要干涉仲裁员的裁决,由于仲裁员显然在法律上误导了自己,援引了明显错误的法律规则,或原告须证明,虽然适用法律是正确的,但相关结论不是任何理性仲裁员可以得出的(“The Defendant submits that the proper test on an appeal on a question of law is to consider whether interference with the arbitrator’s award is necessitated because the arbitrator had obviously misdirected himself in law, by invoking legal principles which were self-evidently incorrect, and alternatively, the Plaintiffs must establish that although the law stated was correct, the decision reached was one that noreasonable arbitrator could reach.”)。

对此,法院表示认同,并根据判例Cosemar SA v Mariamararna Shipping Co Ltd (The“Matthew”) [1990] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 323,要在事实与法律混合问题的上诉取得成功,就必须证明仲裁员的决定超出了其可接受的解决办法的范畴(“the Court held that for an appeal to succeed on a mixed question off act and law, it has to be shown that the decision of the arbitrator was outside the permissible range of solutions which were open to him.”);根据判例Edwards v Bairstow [1956] AC 14,为了证明干涉仲裁员的决定是合理的,必须证明仲裁员在法律上存在误导,或者作出的决定不是任何理性仲裁员能够作出的(“to justify interference with an arbitrator’s award, it must be shown that the arbitrator had misdirected himself in law, or that the decision was such that no reasonable arbitrator could reach.”)。

二、法院认定

(一)关于被告是否按约定履行通知义务的问题

根据《分包合同》第21.1.2条约定,承包商有权在任何情况或事件下根据主合同获得额外付款或损失和费用的(“21.1.1 any circumstances oroccurrence as a consequence of which the Contractor is entitled to additional payment or loss and expense under the Main Contract…”)。

根据《分包合同》第21.2条约定,如果分包商希望保留根据第21.1条就额外付款或损失和费用提出索赔的权利,作为任何权利的先决条件,在根据第21.1条发出通知后28日(包含28日)内,分包商应以书面形式向承包商提交书面通知(“If the Sub-Contractor wishes to maintain its right to pursue a claim for additional payment or loss and expense under Clause 21.1, the Sub-Contractor shall as a condition precedent to any entitlement, within twenty eight (28) Days after giving of notice under Clause 21.1, submit in writing to the Contractor…”)。

根据《分包合同》第21.3条约定,除非第21.1和21.2条得到严格遵守,否则分包商无权要求任何额外或额外的付款、损失和费用、任何延期索赔,或根据分包合同任何条款以及普通法下提出的任何损害赔偿要求(“The Sub-Contract shall have no right to any additional or extra payment, loss and expense, any claim for an extension of time or any claim for damages under any Clause of the Sub-Contractor at common law unless Clauses 21.1 and 21.2 have been strictly complied with…”)。

关于本案中是否按合同约定履行通知义务的问题,仲裁庭认定,尽管被告在2011年8月1日、2日和10日的信件中根据变更条款或分包合同第21.1.6条约定的变更提出申诉,但其已发出了符合第21.2条的通知,而不是根据第21.1.1条规定的“类似权利(“Essentially, the Arbitrator’s finding is that the appropriate Clause 21.2 notice had been given, despite the fact that the Defendant had made its claims in its letters of 1, 2 and 10 August 2011 on the basis of a Variation or Sub-Contract Variation (under Clause 21.1.6), and not on a “like rights” basis under Clause 21.1.1.”)。此外,并认定仲裁中允许的索赔是一种新的法律依据,但被告根据第21.2条不排除寻求不同的合同或法律依据(“The Arbitrator made it clear in the Award that the claim allowed in the Arbitration is a new legal basis, but that the Defendant was not precluded under Clause 21.2 to pursue a different contractual or legal basis.”)。

对此,法院却认为,仲裁庭在得出上述结论时未考虑到第21.2条的明文规定,该条款明确规定为任何额外付款或损失和费用索赔的提前是在规定时间内发出书面通知,且第21.3条也明确约定该规定必须“严格遵守”(“With respect, in coming to such a conclusion, the Arbitrator failed to pay heed and give effect to the express provisions of Clause 21.2, which is clearly stated to be a condition precedent for any claim to additional payment or loss and expense, and is required by the express provisions of clause 21.3 to be “strictly complied with”.”)。故法院得出,第21.1条和第21.2条所述的书面通知的送达是前提,不具有任何争议,也不存在任何含糊不清之处,因此必须“严格”遵守,否则被告将“无权”获得任何额外或额外的付款、损失和费用(“In my view, there can be no dispute, and no ambiguity, from the plain and clear language used in Clause 21, that the service of notices of claim in writing referred to in Clause 21.1 and 21.2 are conditions precedent, must be “strictly” complied with, and failure to comply with these conditions will have the effect that the Defendant will have “no entitlement” and “noright” to any additional or extra payment, loss and expense.”)。而由本案的案件事实可知,被告并未严格遵守第21条关于书面通知对方的明确规定,故认定仲裁庭在该问题的认定存在适用法律的错误。

据此,针对原告就该项法律适用提出的上诉,法院认定,在本案中,被告没有根据第21.2条给予适当的通知,仲裁员允许被告提出“类似权利”主张的决定在法律上是错误的(“I come to the conclusion that on proper construction of Clause 21 of the Sub-Contract, the Defendant had failed to give proper notice under Clause 21.2, and that the Arbitrator’s decision to allow the Defendant’s claim of “like rights” was wrong in law.”)。

(二)关于工程变更事项的估价问题

在本案中,被告主张防渗墙工程中特定区板的延期,构成分包合同中约定的“变更事项”,仲裁庭接受了该项主张,并根据合同第19条约定对该变更事项的估价问题进行认定。

但原告主张,由于仲裁员适用了“成本累加”估算方法,故仲裁员错误地将被告未实际支付的数额列为“费用”(“the Arbitrator was in error to include as “cost” an amount not actually incurred by the Defendant, when the Arbitrator stated that he was using a “cost plus” valuation approach (paragraph 679 of the Award).”),并指出相关设备处于储存的状态,并未进入运行,出于估价的目的,被告不会为此付出任何代价(“The Plaintiffs emphasized that the equipment was in storage, was not operating at all, and that it would not cost anything to the Defendant, for the purposes of valuation.”)。关于工程正确估价的方法,原告提出应当使用判例Floods of Queens ferry Ltd v Shand Construction Ltd [1999] 319、Laserbore Limited vMorrison Biggs Wall Limited[1993] Lexis Citation2055 25th of August 1993以及Keating on BuildingContracts and Greenmast Shipping Co v Jean Lion et Cie (The Saronikos) [1986] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 277 at 279中的“公平合理费率或价格”(fairand reasonable rate or price),以及专业著作Max Abrahamson的Engineering Law and the ICEContracts, 4th Edition、Keating on Construction Contracts, 10th Edition以及Hudson’s Building and Engineering Contracts, 10th edition的相关观点。

被告则提出,根据判例Floods of Queensferry Ltd v Shand Construction Ltd[1999] 319专业著作Sergeant and Wieliczko’s Construction Contract Variations, 2014 Edition作为支撑依据,主张仲裁员的相关认定并没有问题。其中该专业著作中明确指出,在大多数情况下,将采用外推费率进行估价,因此不存在由承包商证明发生了哪些费用的问题。由于不应要求提供实际损失的证据,可以说,确定“成本”应包括评估某些工作的成本,而不是必须证明工程的成本(“In most cases a valuation will be undertaken using extrapolated rates and therefore the question of a contractor proving what costs it has incurred does not arise. Since proof of actual loss should not be required, it could be said that establishing “cost” should involve assessing what certain work would have cost it, rather than having to prove what the work did cost.”)。

法院选择采纳了被告的主张,即仲裁员对工程变更估价的认定属于法律和事实相混合的问题(“I accept the submissions made on behalf of the Defendant, that the Arbitrator’s decision on the valuation of the Variation is a mixed question of law and fact.”),并根据上述判例和专业著作的观点,以及判例Cosemar SA v Mariamararna Shipping Co Ltd (The “Matthew”) [1990] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 323,最终得出结论,无法就此认定仲裁员在该问题认定上存在误导,亦无法认定其作出的决定超出了自身可接受的解决办法的范畴(“On review of the authorities, it cannot be said that the Arbitrator had misdirected himself in law, or that his decision was outside the permissible range of solutions which were open to him”)。

综上所述,法院认定,针对原告就仲裁裁决法律适用问题提出的上诉,仅就第一项问题的上诉予以支持,并驳回第二项问题的上诉(“The appeal on the first question of law on notice compliance is allowed. The appeal on the second question of law on variation valuation is dismissed.”)。

三、评析

由本案可知,仲裁裁决中关于法律适用问题的上诉,本质上属于对案件事实部分的认定问题。故法院需在仲裁庭对案件事实认定的基础上,结合仲裁庭对相关法律问题的认定,对争议的法律适用问题进行再次认定,以明确仲裁庭在法律适用上是否存在错误。从本案当事双方的主张可以看出,对争议事实和法律混合问题的认定,需要当事双方充分发挥主观能动性,对特定专业领域的认定问题提出权威且令人信服的依据,例如权威判例以及专业著作,以使主审法官对特定专业问题得出有利于己方的结论。

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