法律英语动态

英美法律基础课小课堂——美国合同法

2021-12-30 10:01:37 admin 166

美国合同法是由判例法和制定法共同构成的,其中判例法是美国合同法的主要渊源。在美国判例法发展的过程中,学者的著述发挥了非常重要的作用。著述本身并不是法律,对法院的审判没有任何约束力,仅有参考作用。然而,学者著述将篇幅浩繁而杂乱无章的判例归纳成以一定原理为依据的有机整体,使判例中表现出来的顺应时代要求的新倾向得到及时的归纳总结,法官经常参考学者的一些观点,这逐渐影响了判例法的发展。

在美国,合同法属于私法的一部分。除合同法之外,一般还将侵权法(torts)、物权法(property)、家庭法(family law)、商法(commercial law)和企业法(business enterprise)也放在私法之下。

合同法主要是有关允诺债务(promissory obligations)的。允诺债务可能来自于明示允诺(express promise),比如当事人在合同书中明确承诺,也可能来自默示允诺(promise implied in fact),比如通过行为展示的允诺。

此外,为避免不当得利,法院也可能给一方施加责任。这种情况一般被称为“准合同”(quasi-contract),有时也被不太恰当地称为法律推定的允诺promise implied in law),因为这里实际上不存在允诺。

 

什么是合同法?

在英美法系国家,合同领域的法律原则主要包含在普通法之中,这是几个世纪以来由法院以判例形式发展起来的判例法。除印度以外,英美法系各国均无系统的、成文的合同法。因此英美法系的合同法主要是判例法、不成文法。虽然英国、美国等也制定了一些有关某种合同的成文法,如英国1893年的《货物买卖法》、美国《统一商法典》等,但它们只是对货物买卖合同及其他一些有关的商事合同作出具体规定,至于合同法的许多基本原则,如合同成立的各项规则等,仍需依据判例法所确立的法律原则行事。

Contract law is the body of law that relates to making and enforcing agreements. A contract is an agreement that a party can turn to a court to enforce. Contract law is the area of law that governs making contracts, carrying them out and fashioning a fair remedy when there’s a breach.

 

什么时候用合同法?

Anyone who conducts business uses contract law. Both companies and consumers use contracts when they buy and sell goods, when they license products or activities, for employment agreements, for insurance agreements and more. Contracts make these transactions happen smoothly and without any misunderstandings. They allow parties to conduct their affairs confidently. Contracts help make sure that the parties to a transaction are clear on its terms.

 

美国合同法主要包括下列内容:

当事人的行为能力(capacity of the parties to enter a contract

合同的形式(formalities required in an effective contract

要约和承诺(offer and acceptance

对价(consideration

合同订立过程中的错误、不实陈述、胁迫、显失公平(mistake; misrepresentation; duress; unconscionability in the making of contracts

合同因公共政策而不可执行(unenforceability on grounds of public policy

合同条款的解释(interpretation and construction of the terms

合同的履行及其条件(performance and conditions of performance

合同目的落空(frustration of purpose

合同履行不能(impracticability of performance

合同义务的解除(discharge of duties

合同转让和第三方受益人(assignment and beneficiaries

合同违约及救济(breach and remedies

 

合同如何形成?

A valid contract has four parts:

 

Offer要约

First, one party must make an offer. They must state the terms that they want the other party to agree to. If the other side agrees to the terms of the offer, the other side may accept it, and the contract is complete.

 

Acceptance承诺

Accepting another party’s offer makes a contract complete. The party that accepts the offer must accept it on the same terms as the terms of the original offer. They must make sure that the other side knows they accept it.

 

If they propose different terms, there’s no contract. Instead, their terms are a counteroffer. It’s then up to the first party to accept the counteroffer or propose another counteroffer.

 

Consideration对价

A valid contract requires each party to give something up. That’s called consideration. For example, in the case of an employment contract, one party agrees to give up money, and the other party agrees to give up labor. A contract is a two-way street with each party giving up something to get something else that they want.

 

Mutual intent to enter into an agreement达成协议的合意

To have a valid contract, both parties must intend to be bound by the contract. If a document says that it’s only a statement of intent, the parties may not have a mutual agreement to enter into a contract. Informal agreements between friends often fall into this category.

 

Typically a promise or an offer of a reward in exchange for certain behavior creates an enforceable contract with the person who undertakes the activity. For example, if someone offers a reward for information that leads to an arrest for a crime, the person who provides the information can seek enforcement of the reward. On the other hand, an advertisement is not a contract without an additional, personalized invitation from the seller for the buyer to buy the good.

 

A contract can be implied. For example, a person who seeks medical treatment has an implied contract with the doctor who treats them to pay a reasonable charge for services. Likewise, a person who orders dinner at a restaurant has an implied contract to pay for the meal that they order.

 

总体来说,美国合同法还是统一的,它的规则可以适用于各类合同,无论合同标的是雇佣、货物买卖、土地出售、保险,也无论合同当事人是个人、企业、政府实体。当然,也有一些例外。比如《美国统一商法典》中某些规则仅适用于“商人”(merchants);也有一些特别法律仅适用于消费者

 

美国合同法主要是州法,也就是说合同法因州而异,不过主要是细节上的不同。美国合同法主要是案例法(case law),即主要由法院通过判例形成。但制定法越来越多,尤其是一些特别法领域。

 

法院根据什么来解释合同?

To interpret a contract, a court looks at the clear language of the contract from the viewpoint of an objective and reasonable person. If the contract isn’t clear, the court may consider outside evidence including outside statements and the behavior of the parties. It’s best to put a contract in writing, and the statute of frauds may even invalidate some contracts.

 

美国合同法的规则某些属于强制法(mandatory/compulsory rules),当事人不可通过约定变更;某些则属于任意法(suppletory/interpretative rules),流行的叫法是default rules,借自于计算机术语。

 

美国合同法一般通过允诺(promise)来定义contract(这点似乎与英国合同法不同,后者使用agreement更多)。当然,contract也可以指当事人的合意本身(agreement),或者指合同书。并非所有允诺都有效,需要设定一些标准。最主要的标准有两个:一个是书面要求(requirement of a writing),另一个是对价。书面要求来自于英国1677年的《反欺诈法》(Statute of Frauds),整个美国均已制定相关法律。其大致规定为:某些类型的合同除非采用书面形式,否则不可执行(unenforceable)。在美国合同要有执行效力,另外一个要求是对价,一方做出允诺,以另一方的允诺或行为(如付款、服务)为交换。无偿允诺(gratuitous promise)一般是没有效力的,除非对方产生信赖,可根据允诺禁反言(promissory estoppel)要求法院执行。

 

最常见的合同类型包括:商人之间货物买卖合同、土地出售合同、保证合同(suretyship)、合同有效期超过1年的合同。此外,合同包含结婚允诺的,也需要采用书面形式。

 

合同违约

When there’s a disagreement about the terms of a contract or when there’s a breach of contract, the parties might involve a court to resolve the dispute. The party seeking damages must prove that a valid contract exists. They must also convince the court that there’s an appropriate remedy.

 

合同违约可采取的救济措施

There are several remedies that a party might ask a court to impose for a breach of contract. The most common is compensatory damages. These are the real, financial losses that a party has because of the breach of contract. If the parties agree in advance about damages if a breach occurs, that’s called liquidated damages. When a breach occurs without any real damages, the aggrieved party can still get a small amount of damages. That’s called nominal damages.

 

In some cases, a party acts very poorly and inexcusably to breach a contract. When that happens, the court may award extra damages called punitive damages. However, this is rare. It’s also rare for a court to order the parties to perform the contract. That might happen in a case where compensatory damages are inadequate like in a contract of sale for a rare item.

 

来源:https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/273242653 

https://legalcareerpath.com/what-is-contract-law/

北京法院网https://bjgy.chinacourt.gov.cn/article/detail/2011/11/id/884094.shtml

标签:

评论列表

法平客服微信
LEC考试QQ交流群