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首页 > 出版刊物 > 专业文章 > 2019新型冠状病毒肺炎对企业合同履行影响及对策建议

2019新型冠状病毒肺炎对企业合同履行影响及对策建议

作者:陆学忠 金易 2020-02-252748

Since the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (i.e., “COVID-2019” named by WHO), as of February 16, 2020, nearly 70,000 confirmed cases have been reported in China.  Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Chongqing, Henan, Heilongjiang and many other provinces and cities have successively issued notices of delayed resumption of work and delayed opening of schools.  The outbreak has impacts on the production and operation activities of many enterprises, such as delayed resumption of work, logistics obstacles, which can cause difficulties in contract performance and lead to a series of complex performance disputes.  This article mainly focuses on the sales contract with reference to the relevant legal provisions and judicial cases during SARS in 2003, aiming to study how the principle of Force Majeure can be applied to relieve or reduce breach liabilities under such circumstances, and on this basis to give enterprises suggested countermeasures.


自2019新型冠状病毒肺炎爆发以来,截至2020年2月16日,中国境内累计报告确诊病例已经接近7万例;中国内地31个省市均已启动突发公共卫生事件一级响应;国务院宣布延长春节假期,上海、广东、浙江、重庆、河南、黑龙江等多个省市陆续发布企业延迟复工和学校延迟开学的通知。此次疫情对众多企业的生产经营活动产生了影响,如延迟复工、物流障碍等均可能给合同履行造成困难,由此可能引发一系列纷繁复杂的履约纠纷。本文主要针对买卖合同这一类型展开法律分析,参考借鉴2003年非典期间的相关规定和案例,研究在此情况下如何适用不可抗力原则来免除或减轻责任,并在此基础上给予企业应对策略。



1. Type of the performance barrier brought by the COVID-2019 - Force Majeure

本次疫情带来的履约障碍类型 – 不可抗力



We have seen precedents in our country's legal practice regarding the contract performance barrier caused by novel infectious disease and the relevant liability sharing. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, the Supreme People's Court issued the Notice on the Conduct of the Relevant Trials and Implementation of the People's Court in accordance with the Law during the Prevention and Control of Infectious Atypical Pneumonia (Law [2003] No. 72), which provides: "Due to the the cause of SARS's outbreak, in cases of contract disputes in which the performance of the original contract has a significant impact on the rights and interests of a party, may be dealt with based upon the specific circumstances and the principle of fairness shall apply.  Disputes arising from administrative measures taken by the government and its relevant departments to prevent and control the SARS epidemic directly resulting in the non-performance of a contract, or disputes arising from the total non-performance of the contracting parties due to the impact of the SARS epidemic shall be properly handled in accordance with the provisions of Articles 117 and 118 of the PRC Contract Law. "


因新型传染病疫情引起的合同履行障碍及其责任承担问题,在我国法律实务中已有先例。2003年“非典”疫情期间,最高人民法院印发的《关于在防治传染性非典型肺炎期间依法做好人民法院相关审判、执行工作的通知》(法〔2003〕72号)指出:“由于‘非典’疫情原因,按原合同履行对一方当事人的权益有重大影响的合同纠纷案件,可以根据具体情况,适用公平原则处理。因政府及有关部门为防治‘非典’疫情而采取行政措施直接导致合同不能履行,或者由于‘非典’疫情的影响致使合同当事人根本不能履行而引起的纠纷,按照《中华人民共和国合同法》第一百一十七条和第一百一十八条的规定妥善处理。”


It can be seen from above that the Supreme Court defines two types of performance barriers: one is caused by the government measures to prevent and control the epidemic, such as administrative notices on delaying resumption of work, site expropriation, and etc., and the other one is the performance barrier caused by the epidemic itself, such as large-scale infection in factory employees.


由上可见,最高法将履行障碍分为两种类型:一是由于政府为防治疫情所采取的措施,如延迟复工通知、场地征用等行政行为;二是疫情本身的导致的履约障碍,如工厂员工出现规模性传染。


In order to control the spread of the COVID-2019, the State Council announced the extension of the Spring Festival holiday, and a number of provincial and municipal governments also issued notices for delaying the resumption of work.  These notices, as abstract administrative actions taken by the competent administrative organs in response to the epidemic, shall have general binding force on unspecified targets located within the administrative area covered by such notices.  In addition, due to the shortage of medical supplies, the production and sales of essential medical supplies such as masks and alcohol are to be arranged collectively by government.  Some towels and underwear manufacturing factories are required by the government to manufacture medical equipment such as masks and protective clothing.  These are all administrative actions (i.e., government measures) that could affect the performance of contract.


为控制本次疫情的扩散,国务院宣布延长春节假期,多个省市政府发布通知要求延期复工,该等通知作为有权行政机关针对疫情作出的抽象行政行为,在所辖行政区域内对不特定的管辖对象具有普遍的约束力。此外,由于医疗物资的紧缺,口罩、酒精等必需用品的生产销售由政府统一调配,部分毛巾、内衣工厂被政府要求转产口罩、防护服等医疗设备,均属于对合同履行产生影响的行政性行为/政府措施。


Talking about the impact of the epidemic itself, due to the wide spread of the COVID-2019, there is a chance that a large number of employees of an enterprise may get sick or isolated from work, which will lead to insufficient production capacity to such enterprise even without the impact of administrative action intervention.  Due to the rise of the costs of logistics and production, some enterprises may not be able to maintain its normal production.  Further, products manufactured in some specific areas with severe epidemic outbreak may even get discriminatory treatment and rejection.


就疫情本身产生的影响而言,由于本次新型冠形病毒肺炎传染性强传播范围广,即使没有行政行为的干预影响,也可能存在大量员工患病或者隔离无法复工,进而导致生产企业产量不足的情况;或者由于物流成本、安全生产成本的上升,企业无法正常生产;甚至某些疫情严重地区的产品受到歧视性对待被拒收等情况。



2. Application of the principle of Force Majeure and legal consequences

不可抗力原则的适用和法律后果



We refer to the judicial practice during the SARS epidemic in 2003, in which some courts identified the SARS epidemic as a Force Majeure event, some courts identified it as a change of circumstances, and some other courts considered it to be a commercial risk (rather than a Force Majeure event or change of circumstances) that the parties should bear by themselves.  Application of the principle of Force Majeure and change of circumstances in this epidemic will be analyzed below.


参考2003年非典疫情,司法实践中,有的法院将“非典”疫情认定为不可抗力,有的则认定为情势变更,还有的认为属于当事人应自行承担的商业风险,并不构成不可抗力或情势变更。下文将对本次疫情中不可抗力和情势变更的适用情况展开分析。


(1) Recognition of a Force Majeure event

不可抗力的认定


Article 180 of the PRC General Principles of Civil Law and Article 117 of the PRC Contract Law both define Force Majeure as “an objective situation that is unforeseeable, unavoidable, and insurmountable”.  Further, according to the Interpretation of the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China, “unforeseeable” shall mean that an event cannot be predicted generally based upon the current level of technology; “unavoidable” and “insurmountable” shall mean that, although the contracting party has done its best and has taken all the measures that can be taken, such party still cannot avoid the occurrence of the event and cannot overcome the consequences of the event.  After the epidemic outbreak, the National Health Commission declared the COVID-2019 as a Class B infectious disease under the PRC Law of Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases.  The World Health Organization has classified the COVID-2019 as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”, which shows that the epidemic was unpredictable before it occurred.  At the same time, its exact source of infection and treatment methods have not yet been clarified, and the epidemic is still spreading.  Therefore, this epidemic could constitute a Force Majeure event.  Correspondingly, the administrative actions taken by the relevant government departments in response to the epidemic are also unpredictable and mandatory, which could constitute an objective Force Majeure event.


《民法总则》第一百八十条和《合同法》第一百一十七条条均将不可抗力定义为“不能预见、不能避免并不能克服的客观情况”。根据《中华人民共和国民法总则释义》:不可预见是指“根据现有的技术水平,一般对某事件发生没有预知能力”;不能避免且不能克服,是指“当事人已经尽到最大努力和采取一切可以采取的措施,仍不能避免某种事件的发生并不能克服事件所造成的后果”。本次疫情发生后,国家卫生健康委员会将“新冠肺炎”纳入《中华人民共和国传染病防治法》规定的乙类传染病,世界卫生组织将“新冠肺炎”疫情列为“国际关注的突发公共卫生事件”,可见本次疫情在发生前具有不可预见性。同时,其确切的传染源、和治疗方法至今尚未明确,目前疫情仍在传播扩散,故本次疫情可以构成不可抗力。相应的,有关政府部门针对本次疫情采取的行政行为也具有不可预见性和强制性的特征,可以构成不可抗力这一客观事实。


It should be noted that the predictability, preventability and controllability of this epidemic will change with the passage of time and the development of medical technology.  The knowledge level of the contracting parties may be different in certain specific cases.  Additionally, the actual impact on the contract performance in different cases are also different.  Under such circumstances, this epidemic should not be regarded as a Force Majeure in all time and all cases.


需要注意的是,本次疫情的可预见性和可防可控性会随着时间的推移和医疗技术的发展而改变,具体到个案上亦存在当事人认识水平的不同,对合同履行的实际影响不同,故不可一概将其认定为不可抗力。


First, the conclusion may be different on whether this epidemic could constitute a Force Majeure event at different stages.  During the outbreak of this epidemic, its development could be divided into different stages: the first case of detection, the declaration of human-to-human infection, the initiation of a major public health emergency first-level response, the extension of the Spring Festival holidays, the delay of the resumption of business work, etc.  Different contracting parties may be able to foresee the impact of the epidemic outbreak on contract performance based upon different milestone events.


首先,疫情在不同阶段能否构成不可抗力存在差异。在本次疫情中,存在渐进发展的不同阶段:如发现首例患者、宣布存在人传人情况、启动重大突发公共卫生事件一级响应、春节假期延长、企业延迟复工等。这些阶段性事件对当事人能否预见疫情对合同履行的影响明显不同。


For example, if two parties signed a contract before the official announcement of “human-to-human transmission”, the parties should generally be considered unable to foresee the severity of the epidemic.  However, after the lockdown of Wuhan and the extension of the Spring Festival holidays, the parties are supposed to have foresights for the corresponding obstacles to performances.  In this case, if they still choose to enter into a contract, the epidemic can no longer be regarded as Force Majeure.   In practice, Liaoning Shenyang Intermediate Court held in (2005) Shen (2) Fang Zhong Zi No. 736 that, when the contract was signed, the SARS epidemic has already broken out, real estate developers should foresee the outbreak of SARS may have an impact on its normal construction and delivery of housing, but the real estate developers still agreed in the contract to deliver the commodity houses at the end of September 2003, so the court did not support the real estate developer’s claim that SARS epidemic constituted Force Majeure.


例如,当事人在官方首次宣布“存在人传人现象”前订立合同,一般应认定当事人无力预见疫情可能的严重性;但是,在武汉“封城”乃至延长春节假期之后,当事人对相应的履行障碍应该具有一定的预见性,故如其仍选择订立合同,原则上不得再将疫情认定为不可抗力。实践中,辽宁沈阳中院(2005)沈(2)房终字第736号判决就认为,房屋买卖合同签订时,“非典”疫情已经爆发,开发商应预见“非典”疫情可能对其正常施工和交房造成影响,但仍在合同中约定2003年9月底交付房屋,故未支持开发商主张“非典”疫情构成不可抗力的主张。


Second, the actual obstacles to contract performance caused by the epidemic are different.  It is controversy on whether the epidemic itself can constitute an obstacle to contract performance in judicial practice.  After the SARS epidemic, many courts believed that the epidemic itself was not enough to constitute obstacles to contract performance, it required administrative interventions as well.  For example, Shanxi High People’s Court (2017) Jin Min Zhong No. 93 held that during the SARS period, traffic was not blocked and cargo transactions were not restricted, so the SARS epidemic itself did not constitute an obstacle to fulfillment of supply obligations.  If the epidemic and its prevention and control measures do not constitute a major obstacle to the performance of the contract, the parties cannot claim exemption from the breach of the contract.  For example, sellers can produce and ship in different factories across the country, so they cannot argue that there are obstacles to delivery because some of their factories have lockout due to the epidemic.  Due to the popularity of electronic commerce, the upgrade of automation technology and the perfection of logistics channels, there are more choices on the contract fulfillment methods.  For example, online ordering and automated production can reduce the impact of the epidemic on production and operation.  The performance expenses increased in the above circumstances, such as logistics costs, labor costs shall be settled in accordance with the agreement of the parties or the rules on performance costs under Articles 60, 61, and 110 of the PRC Contract Law.


其次,疫情对合同履行造成的实质障碍不同。对于疫情本身能否构成合同履行障碍,司法实践一直存在争议。“非典”疫情后,不少法院认为,疫情本身不足以导致合同履行障碍,还必须有行政干预措施。例如,山西高院(2017)晋民终93号判决认为,“非典”期间并未封锁交通、货物交易也没有受到限制,故“非典”疫情不构成供货义务的履行障碍。如果疫情及其防控措施对合同履行未构成重大障碍,则合同当事人不能主张免责。例如,出卖人在全国有多个厂区可以生产发货,不能仅以部分厂区受疫情影响而停产为由主张交货存在障碍。由于在线交易的普及、自动化技术的升级和物流渠道的完备,许多买卖合同履行方式有了更多的选择,如通过远程下单,无人工自动化生产的方式可以减少本次疫情对生产经营的影响。上述情形中增加的履行费用,如物流费、人工费等应按照当事人约定或《合同法》第60条、第61条、第110条等关于履行费用的规则解决。


Therefore, it is believed that the impact of the epidemic situation and its prevention and control measures on the performance of the contract should be evaluated when applying the Force Majeure clause.  Besides, the exact situation of the epidemic and its prevention and control measures in the place of contracting party and place of performance should be examined as well.


因此,笔者认为在适用不可抗力条款时应该评估疫情及其防控措施对合同履行的影响,具体考察合同当事人所在地、合同履行地等地的疫情和防控措施,并结合同地区、同行业的普遍做法进行。


(2)Legal consequences brought by Force Majeure

构成不可抗力后的法律效果


Based on the principle of party autonomy, the parties’ agreement on contract performance and the relevant liabilities should be complied with first on deciding the legal consequences brought by the epidemic.  If the parties have no agreement on this issue or the agreement is unclear, the epidemic may lead to the following legal consequences in the event of Force Majeure which creates obstacles to the actual performance of the contract:


基于意思自治原则,疫情对合同履行、合同责任产生何种法律效果,首先应遵从当事人的约定。如果当事人没有约定或者约定不明,则疫情在构成不可抗力且导致合同实际履行障碍的情况下,将产生以下法律效果:


Firstly, according to Article 117 of the PRC Contract Law, the Force Majeure may partially or completely exempt the liability for breach of contract.  The scope and extent of the exemption shall be corresponding to the influences of Force Majeure.  First of all, if the Force Majeure only affects the performance of part of contractual obligations, the scope of exemption should be limited to the liability for non-performance of such part of the contractual obligations instead of the entire contract liability.  Secondly, if the Force Majeure only causes the contract performance delayed temporarily, the scope of exemption should be limited to the liability for breach of contract caused by such delayed performance, and the parties cannot be considered to be unable to perform the contract.  For example, Shanghai High Court held in (2005) Hu Gao Min Er (Shang) Zhong Zi No 159 that: “During the SARS period, the respondent received many orders from many government departments in in March, April, and May in 2003, resulting in its failure to meet the demand of many customers including the appellant.  However, the appellee recovered its ability to supply since June 2003.  Therefore, the respondent should be liable for breach of contract for its failure to supply the appellant’s requested quantity of goods in June 2003.”  Last but not least, if the Force Majeure and the debtor’s behavior jointly lead to the failure of the contract performance, the extent of exemption should be determined accordingly.


第一,根据《合同法》第一百一十七条,不可抗力情形可以部分或全部免除违约责任。免责范围与程度应与不可抗力的影响相适应。首先,如果不可抗力只对部分合同义务的履行产生影响,则免责范围一般应限于该部分合同未履行而产生的违约责任,而不能笼统地认为可以免除整个合同的违约责任。其次,如果不可抗力仅导致合同一时不能履行,则免责范围一般应限于迟延履行产生的违约责任,而不能认为当事人可以不再履行合同。例如,上海市高院(2005)沪高民二(商)终字第159号判决认为:“被上诉人在2003年“非典”期间根据政府要求,在3月、4月、5月受到了很多国家机关提出的供货要求,导致其未能满足包括上诉人在内很多客户的要货需求。由此,本院认为未按上要货数量供货系受“非典”事件影响并无不妥。但是,被上诉人在原审和二审中认为其在2003年6月具备供货能力,因此,被上诉人应该对其在2003年6月未按上诉人要货数量供货的行为承担违约赔偿责任。”最后,如果不可抗力和债务人原因共同导致合同不能履行,应按照原因大小确定部分免责的程度。


Secondly, when it becomes impossible to achieve the purpose of the contract due to Force Majeure event, the contract can be terminated.  According to Article 94 of the PRC Contract Law, the contract can be terminated when the Force Majeure has reached the extent that the purpose of the contract cannot be achieved.  For example, Fujian Putian Intermediate Court once ruled in (2019) Min 03 Min Zhong No. 2606 that after the “African Swine Fever” epidemic, all pigs were subject to harmless treatment, and the government also quarantined the epidemic area, and the tenant confirmed that it could not continue the pig business.  Therefore, the purpose of the lease contract could not be achieved, so the court supported the lessee’s request to terminate the contract.  It should be noted that the standards for triggerring Force Majeure clause to terminate a contract are generally strict in judicial practice.  If the Force Majeure event does not render the purpose of the contract impossible, the parties are not entitled to terminate the contract.  For example, the Liaoning Provincial High Court ruled in (2013) Liao Shen Er Min Kang Zi No. 14 that the SARS epidemic and the relevant government’s notices to suspend wildlife trading business only affected some of the business activities of Zhengdian Company, and it was not enough to cause the lease contract with Pengcheng Company to be impossible to perform, so the Force Majeure clause should not be applied.


第二,不可抗力致使合同目的不能实现时,可以解除合同。根据《合同法》九十四条,当不可抗力的影响程度达到合同目的不能实现时,可以解除合同。例如,福建莆田中院(2019)闽03民终2606号判决认为,在“非洲猪瘟”疫情发生之后,生猪被全部无害化处理,政府也对疫区进行封锁,承租人确认无法继续养殖生猪,导致租赁合同目的无法实现,故判决支持承租人解除合同的请求。应当注意的是,司法实践中,法院对援引不可抗力请求解除合同的审查标准普遍比较严格,如果不可抗力没有达到致使合同目的不能实现的程度,则当事人无权解除合同。比如,辽宁省高院(2013)辽审二民抗字第14号认为,因“非典”疫情和政府有关部门因此而下发的停止野生动物经营的通知,只是对正典公司的部分经营活动造成影响,尚不足以导致其与鹏程公司之间的租赁合同“直接”或“根本”不能履行,故本案不能据此认定为双方合同的解除系不可抗力的原因所致。



3.  Suggested countermeasures and advices

应对措施及建议



(1)  Review and assess risks for contracts being performed and to be performed

尽快对正在履行中及将要履行的合同进行审查并评估风险


As the COVID-2019 is still developing, it is advisable that companies should ask their legal departments to review the contracts that are being performed and to be performed to determine whether the performance of such contracts is being or will be affected by the epidemic, i.e., whether the company can deliver the commodities on time, whether the company’s production capacity can meet the demand of the contract, whether the physical distribution channels are blocked, and etc.  For the contracts that may be affected, the “Force Majeure” clauses in the contract should be reviewed to see whether the contract includes “Force Majeure” clauses, whether the “infectious diseases” or “plagues” are clearly stated as cases of Force Majeure, whether the relevant clauses explicitly exclude the application of Force Majeure clause, and etc.  For contracts that may be at risk, the company should explain the situation to counterparties in a timely manner and try to negotiate how to resolve the problems together.


由于本次疫情目前仍在持续发展,建议企业应对要求其法务部门对正在履行中及将要履行的合同进行审查,以判断合同的履行是否会受到此次疫情的影响,比如能否按照合同约定按期交货、企业产量是否满足需求、物流渠道是否通畅;对履行可能受到影响的合同,进一步审查合同中的“不可抗力”条款,如合同中是否包括“不可抗力”条款,“不可抗力”条款是否将“传染性疾病”或“瘟疫”作为不可抗力的情形明确列明,相关条款是否明确排除了不可抗力条款的适用;对可能存在风险的合同应当及时与对方说明情况,共同协商解决履行障碍事宜。


(2) The parties who have been already affected by Force Majeure shall notify the other party and provide proof promptly

已经受不可抗力影响的当事人应当及时通知对方并提供证明


Article 118 of the PRC Contract Law stipulates that “[I]f a party is unable to perform a contract due to an event of Force Majeure, it shall timely notify the other party so as to mitigate the losses that may be caused to the other party, and shall provide evidence of such event of Force Majeure within a reasonable period.”  Therefore, after being affected by the outbreak of COVID-2019, providing the timely notification and adequate evidence is the key for the parties to reduce liability and losses, which should be noted as follows:


《合同法》第118条规定:“当事人一方因不可抗力不能履行合同的,应当及时通知对方,以减轻可能给对方造成的损失,并应当在合理期限内提供证明。”受到新冠肺炎疫情影响后,及时通知合同相对方和提供证明是当事人减免责任、减小损失的重要条件,对此应注意以下几点:


Firstly, the notification should be timely.  In principle, the parties should issue the notification within a reasonable period after the outbreak of the COVID-2019 and related administrative actions that have affected their performance of the contract.  Considering that courier services may be suspended or delayed during the Spring Festival and epidemic period, the E-mail and other electronic ways should be taken into consideration.


第一,通知应当“及时”,原则上当事人应当在疫情及相关防控措施对其履行合同造成影响后的尽短时间内发出通知。考虑到邮政、快递等业务在春节和疫情期间可能出现暂停、延缓等情况,应注意通过电子通讯等手段及时通知。


Secondly, the content of the notice should at least include the occurrence of Force Majeure and its causation to the inability of performance.  In addition, it can also include the future expectations of contract performance, and the willingness to negotiate with the other party to resolve obstacles to contract performance.


第二,通知的内容应包括不可抗力的发生和不可抗力与履行障碍之间的因果关系两大方面。此外,还可视情况在通知中加入对合同履行的预期、愿与对方协商解决合同履行障碍等方面的内容。


Thirdly, the evidence of Force Majeure shall be provided upon notice to the other party or within a reasonable period thereafter.  The contents of the evidence shall generally include government notices, announcements and provisions to prove that the contract cannot be performed due to the prevention and control measures.  If the party is a natural person and cannot perform the contract due to his suffering from the disease, the relevant diagnosis and treatment documents should be provided to the other party in a timely manner after his healing.


第三,不可抗力证明应在向对方发出通知时,或在此后的合理期限内提供。证明内容一般应包括政府部门通知、公告、命令等,以证明因疫情防控措施导致合同不能履行。如果当事人是自然人,因患病治疗无法履行合同,一般应在可以通知或者出院后及时向对方提供相关诊疗证明文件。


It is noticeable that for international trade contracts that cannot be performed due to the COVID-2019, the parties can apply to the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (“CCPIT”) or the council in their province or city for the certificate  (website: http://www.rzccpit.com) to provide evidence to foreign counterparties or prepare for potential disputes.  According to the requirements of the CCPIT, companies applying for Force Majeure-related certificates must submit an announcement or notices issued by the government department at the city level or above; notifications and certifications of delays or cancellations of relevant shipments or flights; relevant information such as export sales contracts, booking agreements, freight agency agreements, customs declarations, etc.  If the debtor or its employee is suffering from the COVID-2019 or a suspected case which is observed in isolation, then the hospitalization certificate, diagnosis certificate and relevant evidence of isolation should be provided.


需特别提示的是,受新冠肺炎疫情不能履行的国际贸易合同,当事人可向中国国际贸易促进委员(“中国贸促委”)会或所在省、市的贸促委申请办理与不可抗力相关的事实性证明(网址:http://www.rzccpit.com),以提供境外相对方或为应对潜在纠纷准备证据。按照中国贸促会的要求,企业申请“新型冠状病毒感染的肺炎疫情”影响的不可抗力相关证明,需提交企业所在地市级及以上政府机构出具的公告或证明;海陆空相关延运、延飞、取消等通知或证明;出口货物买卖合同、货物订舱协议、货运代理协议、报关单等相关资料。若涉及债务人或其员工为“新冠肺炎”患者或者疑似病例被隔离观察的,应提供住院证明、诊断证明、出院证明及被隔离观察的相关证明等。


Regarding domestic commercial activities, we have not noticed that any organization can issue documents similar to the aforementioned CCPIT Force Majeure Certificate.  It is believed that the reason why CCPIT issues certificates of Force Majeure is mainly because foreign governments, customs, chambers of commerce, courts or arbitration institutions may not understand or fully believe in the Force Majeure event claimed by Chinese companies.  So, it needs to be supported by credible certifications.  It is believed that it is not necessary to obtain similar certification for domestic commercial activities, because the notices issued by local governments of provinces and municipalities are accessible to the public.  According to Article 10 of the Several Provisions of the Supreme People's Court on Evidence in Civil Proceedings, it is a fact that does not require proof.  Therefore, domestic courts or arbitration agencies should not require the company to provide additional certificate in order to prove the Force Majeure event.


针对国内商事活动,我们尚未注意到有任何权威组织可以出具与类似的证明文件。中国贸促会出具与不可抗力“有关的事实”的证明,主要是因为域外的政府、海关、商会、企业、法院或仲裁机构不一定会了解或完全相信中国企业单方做出的关于不可抗力“有关的事实”的陈述,因而需要辅以相对具有公信力的证明文件。我们认为纯粹的国内商事活动应当没有必要取得类似证明,因为全国各省、市地方政府发布的关于要求企业复工时间推迟的通知均公开可查,根据《最高人民法院关于民事诉讼证据的若干规定》第十条属于不需要证明的事实。据此,国内法院或仲裁机构应当不需要再根据有关机构出具“有关的事实”的证明,才能认定不可抗力。


(3) Appropriate measures should be taken to prevent the loss from widening.

受不可抗力影响的合同应当采取适当减损措施,防止损失扩大。


According to the relevant law, no matter whether the party is affected by epidemic or not, it should take appropriate derogation measures after the occurrence of the epidemic or its actual knowledge of the difficulty of performing the contract, so as to prevent the loss from widening and avoid aggravating its own responsibility.  The derogation measures can be changing the delivery method, extending the delivery period or timely disposing consumables goods.  At the same time, after the impact of the epidemic has been eliminated, performance of the contract should be resumed as soon as possible.  It is recommended that enterprises pay close attention to the relevant policies and make use of it to deal with the potential legal risks.  Currently, the People’s Bank of China, the China Banking Regulatory Commission and other financial regulatory departments have issued a number of policies to provide support to parties affected by the COVID-2019.  


无论是受到疫情影响的一方,还是不受疫情影响的一方,按照法律规定,均应在发生或知悉合同受疫情影响履行困难后,及时采取适当减损措施(如变更交付方式、延长交付期限、及时处理易损易耗标的物等),防止损失扩大,避免加重自身责任。同时,在疫情影响减轻或消除后,还应根据情况尽快恢复履行。建议企业密切关注政策形势,及时利用政策便利消减法律风险。目前,人民银行、银保监会等金融监管部门和各级政府已出台多项政策措施,对受疫情影响导致部分金融合同履行困难的当事人提供政策支持。


(4) Take full account of the impact of the epidemic when signing new contracts

新订立的合同应当充分考虑疫情的影响


Referring to the above-mentioned Liaoning Shenyang Intermediary Court’s ruling, if a new contract is signed after the outbreak of epidemic, the impact of the epidemic on the performance of the contract should be fully considered.  Because when the new contract is concluded, the epidemic and the corresponding government measures could be foreseeable.  So, it may be difficult to be recognized as Force Majeure at that moment.  Therefore, the impact of the COVID-2019 on performance should be fully taken into consideration when signing new contracts.  If there is concern about subsequent performance, the relevant party should make performance clause more flexible, or add a consultative mechanism or even a unilateral termination right in the contract.


参考上述辽宁沈阳中院(2005)沈(2)房终字第736号判决内容,如在疫情爆发后签订新合同,则应充分考虑疫情对合同履行的影响。因为在新合同订立时,疫情及相应的政府管控措施可能会被认定为是可预见的情形,故而后续可能会难以再主张疫情及及相应的政府管控措施为不可抗力。因此,在新合同订立时,应充分考虑疫情对履约能力的影响。如担心后续履约能力,则尽量在合同中增加可延期履行的灵活性,或协商机制,甚至单方终止权。