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Besiktnings- och värderingsklausuler som tvistlösningsmekanism - en analys av expertavgörandets angripbarhet

Dahllöf, Anton LU (2014) JURM02 20141
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Det är inte givet att alla typer av kommersiella tvister ska lösas i allmän domstol eller i skiljeförfarande; i avtalspraxis finns en stor variationsrikedom vad gäller alternativa tvistlösningsarrangemang. I denna kontext återfinns bland annat besiktnings- och värderingsklausuler, vilka är de tvistlösningsmetoder som den här uppsatsen fokuserar på. Besiktningsklausuler förekommer exempelvis i entreprenadsammanhang och värderingsklausuler är frekvent använda i företagsöverlåtelseavtal. Klausulerna har det gemensamma draget att de uppdrar åt en expert att avgöra vissa specifika frågor – t.ex. en entreprenads kontraktsenlighet respektive ett målbolags värde – å parternas vägnar. I denna framställning är utgångspunkten vidare att klausulerna... (More)
Det är inte givet att alla typer av kommersiella tvister ska lösas i allmän domstol eller i skiljeförfarande; i avtalspraxis finns en stor variationsrikedom vad gäller alternativa tvistlösningsarrangemang. I denna kontext återfinns bland annat besiktnings- och värderingsklausuler, vilka är de tvistlösningsmetoder som den här uppsatsen fokuserar på. Besiktningsklausuler förekommer exempelvis i entreprenadsammanhang och värderingsklausuler är frekvent använda i företagsöverlåtelseavtal. Klausulerna har det gemensamma draget att de uppdrar åt en expert att avgöra vissa specifika frågor – t.ex. en entreprenads kontraktsenlighet respektive ett målbolags värde – å parternas vägnar. I denna framställning är utgångspunkten vidare att klausulerna föreskriver att expertens avgörande ska vara ”slutligt och bindande för parterna”. Det är räckvidden av denna bundenhetsambition som analyseras i detta arbete; ger klausulen skäl för sin ordalydelse i detta avseende?

Den första slutsatsen är att en domstol inte kan avvisa en talan med anledning av att saken redan prövats på ett bindande sätt av en expert. Grundläggande principer på processrättens område sätter hinder för avtalsfrihet beträffande möjligheten att tillskapa sakprövningshinder. Denna slutsats har vidare antagligen understöd av den rätt till rättskipning som följer av artikel 6.1 EKMR. Sannolikt kan inte heller en skiljenämnd med hänvisning till expertavgörandets bindande verkan hindra att saken tas upp till prövning.

Om denna restriktiva inställning till att avtala om sakprövningshinder i praktiken ska ha någon större betydelse kan det heller inte – trots utgången i NJA 1994 s. 712 – förhålla sig så att klausulerna ges en civilrättslig innebörd som till sin effekt är närmast jämförbar med ett sådant hinder.

Uppsatsen skiftar sedan fokus till att analysera vilka faktorer som är av relevans för möjligheterna att trots allt angripa ett expertavgörande. Att en sakprövning inte utesluts av en besiktnings- eller värderingsklausul innebär inte att den domstol eller skiljenämnd som har att överpröva ett expertavgörande utan vidare kommer att bortse från expertens bedömning och göra en fullständig omprövning. Istället är utgångspunkten att expertavgörandet inte åsidosätts med mindre än att ogiltighet eller oskälighet i avtalsrättslig mening föreligger. Detta till följd av att expertavgörandet civilrättsligt är att betrakta som utfyllnad av parternas avtal. En första faktor som är av betydelse för utsikterna att med framgång angripa ett expertavgörande är om prövningen avsett sak- eller rättsfrågor. Om expertens bedömning endast avser sakfrågor finns ingen direkt möjlighet att få till stånd en omprövning av avgörandet i sig, såvida inte avtalet är underkastat en skiljeklausul. Vanligare lär dock vara att prövningen har innefattat också rättsfrågor. En andra faktor som då verkar bestämmande för angripbarheten är om det påstådda felet är av materiell eller formell natur. Vad gäller materiella fel bör det inom ramen för en oskälighetsbedömning enligt 36 § AvtL fordras att felet är av visst allvar och det är enligt författarens ståndpunkt vidare rimligt att en jämkning ska komma ifråga först om felet även har inverkat på utgången av prövningen. Beträffande formella fel förefaller utgångspunkten vara att LSF:s klanderregler kan tjäna som vägledning, vilket får till följd att det vanligen också här krävs att felet åtminstone sannolikt ska ha inverkat på utgången. I uppsatsen argumenteras för att EKMR har en form av indirekt tillämplighet i ett expertförfarande. Detta innebär att ett formellt fel även kan utgöras av en bristande uppfyllelse av de rättssäkerhetskrav i artikel 6.1 EKMR som inte är förhandsdispositiva.

Alldeles oavsett om ett expertavgörande åsidosätts på formella eller materiella grunder så kan det diskuteras om den överprövande domstolen eller skiljenämnden ska företa en ny egen bedömning i sak eller bara kassera expertavgörandet. Enligt författarens mening är svaret på denna fråga beroende av hur parterna utformar sin respektive talan.

Slutligen diskuteras möjligheten att förstärka expertavgörandet i bundenhetshänseende genom bevisavtal och ett kontraktuellt vite. Slutsatsen är att bevisavtal i stort sett saknar verkan i en domstolsprocess, medan motsatsen gäller i ett skiljeförfarande. Det är osäkert om ett avtalat förbud vid vite mot att angripa ett expertavgörande skulle vara ett fruktbart sätt att förstärka dess bindande verkan. Det är dock knappast uteslutet så länge som vitet inte sätts på en sådan nivå att det får en alltför repressiv karaktär. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
All kinds of disputes arising from a commercial contract do not necessarily have to be brought before a court or an arbitral panel; market practice exhibits a great diversity of alternative ways of dispute resolution. This includes the inspection clause and the valuation clause, which are the dispute resolution methods scrutinized in this essay. Inspection clauses could for instance be found in construction contracts and valuation clauses are frequently used in business transfer agreements. A common feature for these clauses is that they empower an expert to determine certain issues – e.g. the contract compliance of a construction work respectively the value of a target company – on behalf of the parties. Moreover, this essay only covers... (More)
All kinds of disputes arising from a commercial contract do not necessarily have to be brought before a court or an arbitral panel; market practice exhibits a great diversity of alternative ways of dispute resolution. This includes the inspection clause and the valuation clause, which are the dispute resolution methods scrutinized in this essay. Inspection clauses could for instance be found in construction contracts and valuation clauses are frequently used in business transfer agreements. A common feature for these clauses is that they empower an expert to determine certain issues – e.g. the contract compliance of a construction work respectively the value of a target company – on behalf of the parties. Moreover, this essay only covers clauses that stipulate the expert determination to be “final and binding upon the parties”. It is the extent of this aimed binding effect that is the subject of examination in this work; does the wording of the clause correspond to its legal effect in this regard?

The first conclusion is that a court must not refuse a court action on the ground that an expert previously has finally resolved the matter. Fundamental principles of procedural law prevails freedom of contract as concerns the possibility to agree on a procedural hindrance. Furthermore, this conclusion is likely to be supported and reinforced by the right to access to justice laid down in article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Presumably an arbitral panel is likewise prevented from dismissing an action due to the expert determination’s intended binding effect.

If this restrictive approach to agreements on procedural hindrances should have any actual significance the clauses may not be given a civil law interpretation that to its consequences are more or less equivalent to such a hindrance. The author maintains this opinion even though it seems incompatible with the reasoning in NJA 1994 s. 712.

Subsequently, the essay continues with an analysis of the key factors being decisive to the possibility of challenging an expert determination. The fact that the inspection- or valuation clause does not prevent a procedure from being initiated does not mean that the court or the arbitral panel will leave the expert determination out of account and perform a completely new assessment of the issues referred to the expert in the first place. On the contrary the expert determination will only be disregarded if there are grounds for considering it null and void or unreasonable within the meaning of the Contracts Act (1915:218). This follows from the fact that the expert determination is actually nothing but a completion of the parties’ contract. One factor of significant importance for the odds to successfully challenging an expert determination is if the assessment has regarded issues of facts or issues of law. If the expert has dealt with merely issues of facts there are no immediate opportunity to take legal action against the determination as such unless the contract is subjected to an arbitration clause. However, such an expert procedure normally involves issues of law as well. Another factor then being crucial for the purpose of defining the grounds for challenging the expert determination is if the alleged fault by the expert is of substantive or formal nature. As concerns a substantive error it ought to be a material one if it should result in an adjustment under section 36 of the Contracts Act. In addition, the author argues that a second reasonable requirement is that the error must have had an impact on the outcome of the assessment. Regarding formal errors it appears that guidance could be provided by the Arbitration Act (1999:116) – more precisely the relevant sections are those laying down the grounds for setting aside an arbitration award. Hence, it will often be necessary also in these cases to prove that the error, at least is likely to, have had an impact on the outcome. The essay puts forward that the European Convention on Human Rights can be considered to have a sort of indirect applicability to an expert procedure. Accordingly, a formal error may be constituted by non-compliance with such rights embedded in article 6.1 of the convention that cannot be validly waived prior to the proceedings.

Irrespective of the reason for overruling an expert determination being of substantive or formal nature, the author holds the opinion that the question whether the “appeal body” – i.e. a court or an arbitral panel – shall carry out a new assessment of the matter at issue or only repeal the expert determination depends on the way the parties design their legal actions.

Finally, the essay addresses if it is possible to support the clauses’ intended binding effect by means of evidential agreements and a penalty payment. The conclusion is that evidential agreements are virtually invalid in court proceedings, whereas the opposite applies to arbitration. It has to be considered uncertain if an agreed prohibition on challenging the expert determination at the risk of a penalty payment would be beneficial as a way of strengthening its binding effect. It seems it may be so provided that the amount to be paid is not fixed to such a high level that it gets a too repressive character. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Dahllöf, Anton LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Inspection- and valuation clauses as dispute resolution methods - an analysis of the possibilities to challenge an expert determination
course
JURM02 20141
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Avtalsrätt, Förmögenhetsrätt, Civilprocessrätt, Värderingsklausuler, Besiktningsklausuler, Processuella avtal, Alternativ tvistlösning
language
Swedish
id
4446399
date added to LUP
2014-06-02 12:15:46
date last changed
2014-06-02 12:15:46
@misc{4446399,
  abstract     = {All kinds of disputes arising from a commercial contract do not necessarily have to be brought before a court or an arbitral panel; market practice exhibits a great diversity of alternative ways of dispute resolution. This includes the inspection clause and the valuation clause, which are the dispute resolution methods scrutinized in this essay. Inspection clauses could for instance be found in construction contracts and valuation clauses are frequently used in business transfer agreements. A common feature for these clauses is that they empower an expert to determine certain issues – e.g. the contract compliance of a construction work respectively the value of a target company – on behalf of the parties. Moreover, this essay only covers clauses that stipulate the expert determination to be “final and binding upon the parties”. It is the extent of this aimed binding effect that is the subject of examination in this work; does the wording of the clause correspond to its legal effect in this regard?

The first conclusion is that a court must not refuse a court action on the ground that an expert previously has finally resolved the matter. Fundamental principles of procedural law prevails freedom of contract as concerns the possibility to agree on a procedural hindrance. Furthermore, this conclusion is likely to be supported and reinforced by the right to access to justice laid down in article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Presumably an arbitral panel is likewise prevented from dismissing an action due to the expert determination’s intended binding effect.

If this restrictive approach to agreements on procedural hindrances should have any actual significance the clauses may not be given a civil law interpretation that to its consequences are more or less equivalent to such a hindrance. The author maintains this opinion even though it seems incompatible with the reasoning in NJA 1994 s. 712.

Subsequently, the essay continues with an analysis of the key factors being decisive to the possibility of challenging an expert determination. The fact that the inspection- or valuation clause does not prevent a procedure from being initiated does not mean that the court or the arbitral panel will leave the expert determination out of account and perform a completely new assessment of the issues referred to the expert in the first place. On the contrary the expert determination will only be disregarded if there are grounds for considering it null and void or unreasonable within the meaning of the Contracts Act (1915:218). This follows from the fact that the expert determination is actually nothing but a completion of the parties’ contract. One factor of significant importance for the odds to successfully challenging an expert determination is if the assessment has regarded issues of facts or issues of law. If the expert has dealt with merely issues of facts there are no immediate opportunity to take legal action against the determination as such unless the contract is subjected to an arbitration clause. However, such an expert procedure normally involves issues of law as well. Another factor then being crucial for the purpose of defining the grounds for challenging the expert determination is if the alleged fault by the expert is of substantive or formal nature. As concerns a substantive error it ought to be a material one if it should result in an adjustment under section 36 of the Contracts Act. In addition, the author argues that a second reasonable requirement is that the error must have had an impact on the outcome of the assessment. Regarding formal errors it appears that guidance could be provided by the Arbitration Act (1999:116) – more precisely the relevant sections are those laying down the grounds for setting aside an arbitration award. Hence, it will often be necessary also in these cases to prove that the error, at least is likely to, have had an impact on the outcome. The essay puts forward that the European Convention on Human Rights can be considered to have a sort of indirect applicability to an expert procedure. Accordingly, a formal error may be constituted by non-compliance with such rights embedded in article 6.1 of the convention that cannot be validly waived prior to the proceedings.

Irrespective of the reason for overruling an expert determination being of substantive or formal nature, the author holds the opinion that the question whether the “appeal body” – i.e. a court or an arbitral panel – shall carry out a new assessment of the matter at issue or only repeal the expert determination depends on the way the parties design their legal actions.

Finally, the essay addresses if it is possible to support the clauses’ intended binding effect by means of evidential agreements and a penalty payment. The conclusion is that evidential agreements are virtually invalid in court proceedings, whereas the opposite applies to arbitration. It has to be considered uncertain if an agreed prohibition on challenging the expert determination at the risk of a penalty payment would be beneficial as a way of strengthening its binding effect. It seems it may be so provided that the amount to be paid is not fixed to such a high level that it gets a too repressive character.},
  author       = {Dahllöf, Anton},
  keyword      = {Avtalsrätt,Förmögenhetsrätt,Civilprocessrätt,Värderingsklausuler,Besiktningsklausuler,Processuella avtal,Alternativ tvistlösning},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Besiktnings- och värderingsklausuler som tvistlösningsmekanism - en analys av expertavgörandets angripbarhet},
  year         = {2014},
}