China: 九民会议纪要之营业信托裁判规则解读、反思与建议(上篇)

Last Updated: 19 September 2019
Article by Deng Weifang, Lei Yali and Kaiwen Zhong
Most Read Contributor in China, September 2019

前言

《全国法院民商事审判工作会议纪要》(征求意见稿)("《九民纪要(稿)》")第89条至第95条对营业信托纠纷中常见的交易安排项下法律关系认定、实体及程序争议问题进行了相关释明,旨在引导对同类法律问题的统一裁判思路、为法官提供说理论证的参考。

毋庸置疑,最高院对该等争议焦点问题的正面回应对于明确金融审判思路与趋势、稳定当事人对司法裁判的预期、指引金融资管产品结构优化等具有重要意义。继《2019年全国法院民商事审判工作会议纪要研究系列之营业信托裁判规则解读、反思与建议(总则篇)》后,笔者团队结合对金融资管业务的知识梳理及在营业信托纠纷领域的法律服务经验,在本文中尝试对《九民纪要(稿)》第89、90条(即回购业务性质认定与结构化安排的法律关系认定)进行解读,并反思或存在笼统表述、技术性瑕疵的部分观点,以期有共鸣者指点一二。

一、回购业务的性质问题

(一)适用场景解读

《九民纪要(稿)》第89条指出"信托公司在资金信托成立后,以募集的信托资金受让股权、股票、债券、票据、债权、不动产、在建工程等特定资产或特定资产收益权,以及信托计划、资产管理计划受益权份额,由出让方或者其指定的第三方在一定期间后以交易本金加上溢价款等固定价款回购的,属于信托公司在资金依法募集后的资金运用行为。由此引发的纠纷不应认定为营业信托纠纷,而应当认定为信托公司与出让方之间的金融借款合同纠纷。"该条描述的交易场景涉及两类法律关系:其一为《信托法》所规制的委托人(自益信托中与受益人归属于同一方)与受托人之间的信托法律关系,所涉常见纠纷类型为二者之间的信托合同纠纷,如信托计划受益人追究受托人未尽勤勉尽责的管理义务之责任;其二为信托财产交易端涉及的信托公司(代表信托计划)与特定资产或其收益权出让方、回购方之间的法律关系,第89条将由此引发的纠纷限定在信托公司与以固定价款回购的出让方之间[1],认为二者构成金融借款合同关系,应认定为金融借款合同纠纷而非营业信托纠纷。

就该条所描述的信托产品结构,是否仅适用于资金信托?按委托人初始交付的信托财产形式划分,信托大致可分为资金信托和财产/财产权信托,后者一般是指以非现金形式的财产或财产权利初始交付设立的信托。《关于规范金融机构资产管理业务的指导意见》(银发[2018]106号)("《指导意见》")第三条明确将"资金信托"纳入资产管理产品的范围,银保监会后续出台的、被视为信托新规的《信托部关于加强规范资产管理业务过渡期内信托监管工作的通知》进一步明确"以财产权信托的名义开展资金信托业务的,适用于《指导意见》。"关于以财产权信托名义开展资金信托业务的,较常见的信托结构为融资方以其持有的特定资产或其收益权委托信托公司设立信托计划,再由信托公司向投资人发行优先级受益权份额的方式募集资金,投资人按信托合同约定获得信托利益分配退出,作为劣后级受益人的融资方往往以接受信托财产原状分配的方式取得信托利益(即类收益权资产证券化交易模式)。笔者理解,该种信托结构下,如融资方或其指定方在特定期限届满后以固定价款回购信托公司持有的特定资产或其收益权的,实质符合《九民纪要(稿)》第89条规定的交易模式,按第89条的逻辑也应认定为信托公司与融资方之间构成金融借款合同关系。

关于上述交易模式下特定资产或其收益权转让暨固定价款回购的法律性质认定,司法实务中并未统一裁判规则,主要有营业信托合同、借款合同、无名合同三种主流审判观点。持营业信托合同的观点认为此类安排符合"买入返售"的信托资金管理模式,是资产市场上投融资的新型交易模式;持借款合同和无名合同的观点认为此类安排本质为借贷,其目的在于资金融通。例如,在颇具代表性的五矿国际信托公司与有色金属公司营业信托纠纷案(案号:(2016)最高法民终231号)中,最高院认为"信托公司与案外委托人之间形成了信托法律关系......信托公司与有色金属公司之间形成了股权收益权返售回购法律关系......《回购合同》第2.1条规定'信托公司取得的特定资产收益权及其产生的全部收益归入信托财产',该约定说明,在信托公司取得特定资产收益权期间内,特定资产产生的任何收益均属于信托公司所有。因此,信托公司的收益不是固定收益,回购价格应为最低收益。该合同约定的业务内容属于信托公司正常的业务经营活动。"

但是与上述观点不同的判决也并不鲜见,比如在北京天悦投资发展有限公司、安信信托股份有限公司合同纠纷案(案号:(2017)最高法民终907号)中,同样涉及对信托买入返售业务的释明,最高院立足《股权收益权转让及回购协议》约定的具体条款以及协议实际履行情况判断当事人权利义务关系、真实交易目的,最终认定涉案《股权收益权转让及回购协议》不属于合同法规定的有名合同,参照合同法分则中最相类似的借款合同的相关规定处理。山东省国际信托股份有限公司与山东天业房地产开发集团有限公司等借款合同纠纷(案号:(2018)鲁01民初78号)、王志荣与上海中汇金玖三期创业投资基金合伙企业(有限合伙)股票收益权转让及回购合同纠纷案(案号:(2016)沪0117民初1862号)等案件的审判思路与此类似。也有部分案例径直将涉案转让及回购协议认定为借款性质,例如(2014)渝高法民初字第00010号、(2015)渝高法民初字第00014号、(2016)最高法民终215号、(2016)吉民初6号等。

综上,针对特定资产/特定资产收益权转让暨回购交易的性质认定,《九民纪要(稿)》第89条虽未推翻过往主流审判观点,但其未对适用场景、司法审判衡量因素作过多扩展描述,易引发下述几点思考:

其一,"固定价款"与"最低价款"的认定争议;

其二,《指导意见》所确定的其他七类资管产品如采取类似交易模式,是否也会被认定为资管产品管理人与特定资产/特定资产收益权出让方之间的借款合同关系?

其三,依照《信托法》的规定,受托人因信托财产的管理运用、处分或者其他情形而取得的财产也归入信托财产,但若认为信托公司与出让方构成金融借款合同关系,特定资产或其收益权转让及回购是否符合"让与担保"行为的基本架构?是否因当事人具有通谋的虚伪意思表示而无效?

(二)对适用场景及裁判思路之几点反思

1."固定价款"之争议

在判断信托交易是否符合《九民纪要(稿)》第89条描述的交易模式时,"固定价款"是绝对固定还是相对固定似乎有点关键。较直观的体现为最高院对案情类似的五矿信托与安信信托案件作出了截然不同的判决,交易模式上同样涉及"买入返售"业务形式,五矿信托案件的判决书指出"在信托公司取得特定资产收益权期间内,特定资产产生的任何收益均属于信托公司所有。因此,信托公司的收益不是固定收益,回购价格应为最低收益。",而安信信托案件的判决书虽明确"《股权收益权转让及回购协议》第一条虽约定标的股权收益权系指收取并获得标的股权的预期全部收益的权利,包括但不限于经营、管理、处置股东分红、转让标的股权产生的所有收益,以及因标的股权产生的其他任何收益......",却并未因此得出信托公司所得收益并非固定,继而否认借款法律关系之结论。值得关注的是,在安信信托案中,最高院依合同目的解释论述了交易条款本身的内在逻辑,据此审查标的股权的实质经营管理人、信托公司有无买入标的股权收益权并承担相应风险的交易目的,认为信托公司的主要合同目的在于收取相对固定的收益,体现出当前司法审判穿透审查当事人实际法律关系之迹象。

因此,笔者理解"固定价款"仅反映了借款关系项下支付融资费用的形式特征,不能简单认为信托公司所收取的收益因包含了变量收益,属于"最低收益"进而否认其借款交易之实。

2.从资管产品信托法律属性再看第89条适用场景

自2012年修订的《证券投资基金法》授予证券公司开展资产管理业务的权限以来,银行、基金管理公司、保险公司等金融机构陆续获准开展资管业务,由不同的法律文件予以规范,呈现出大资管混业经营格局。一方面由于立法模糊和空白,资管市场缺乏统一、有效监管,本质上为同类法律关系的资管产品可能需适用不同的监管规则;另一方面,金融市场参与主体间利益错综复杂,助推了监管套利行为,由此导致多层嵌套、资金池、刚性兑付等资管乱象频发。有学者认为,虽然金融立法采纳了"分业经营"的模式,但是在实践中,金融机构冲破了壁垒,"行信托之实,否信托之名,逃信托之法",此为资管业乱象的起源[2]。

就资管产品的法律关系,目前主要有信托关系与委托关系之争。持信托关系观点的往往从财产是否独立、投资人是否承担风险、受托人是否以自己的名义管理受托财产等角度分析,认为各类资管产品本质上符合信托财产的转移和管理要素,实际为信托产品。王涌教授在《让资产管理回归大信托的格局》(2018)中认为我国目前的资管产品法律关系本质为信托法律关系,其他金融机构及其监管者否认资管本质为信托的主要原因在于避免触碰金融"分业经营"的红线。

在司法实务界,四川省高院在(2017)川民终680号判决书中较详尽地论述了该两种法律关系的区别:"1.在信托关系中,信托财产的名义人为受托人;而在委托代理关系中,财产权仍为委托人的名义。2.在信托关系中,委托人可以指示受托人,但不直接管理、运用和处分信托财产;而在委托代理关系中,代理人和本人都可以行使对财产的管理、运用和处分的权利。3.在信托关系中,信托财产具有独立性,受托人死亡、破产等,都不影响信托关系的存续;而在委托代理关系中,代理人死亡,该代理关系随之终止。4.与第三人的关系上,在信托关系中,信托财产因管理、运用或处分对第三人产生的债务,由受托人的名义对第三人承担责任;而在委托代理关系中,因代理行为产生的对第三人的债务,则由本人承担责任。5.在信托关系中,受托人的行为约束信托财产,但不直接约束委托人;而在委托代理关系中,代理人的行为约束委托人。"

笔者倾向于认可资管产品的信托法律关系属性,既然如此,其他资管产品采取类似交易模式,是否也会被认定为借款关系?由于信托公司具有发放贷款的资质,即便将类似交易关系认定为金融借款关系,一般认为有效,融资费用上限应参照适用《最高人民法院关于审理民间借贷案件适用法律若干问题的规定》的民间借贷利率上限,即总计不超过24%[3]。但在其他资管产品中,如按第89条认定为出让方与不具有发放贷款资格的金融机构之间构成借款关系,按照《银行业监督管理法》《非法金融机构和非法金融业务活动取缔办法》《合同法》及其司法解释等相关规定,该借款关系是否会因融出方未经批准从事银行业金融机构活动,违反国家限制经营、特许经营之强制性规定进而无效?笔者认为不能一概而论,尤其在司法监管化趋势下,金融审判穿透式审查的深度、范围受金融监管政策的影响,对金融机构自身业务的规范、底层资产所涉严监管政策等均有影响。可预见的是,类似纠纷的审判在一段时间后可能又是另一种审判思路。

3.让与担保与虚伪意思表示下对特定资产(收益权)转让及回购行为之再审视

让与担保是大陆法系德日等国经由判例、学说所形成的一种非典型的担保方式,普遍认为2015年9月1日施行的《最高人民法院关于审理民间借贷案件适用法律若干问题的规定》第二十四条规定是在司法解释层面上对让与担保制度的规范和调整。最高院民二庭第四次法官会议纪要对股权让与担保的性质与效力进行了明确阐述,认为如果当事人的真实意思是通过转让标的物的方式为主合同提供担保,则此种合同属于让与担保合同,而非股权转让或股权质押,让与担保是当事人的真实意思表示,不违反法律、行政法规的强制性规定,依法应当认定合同有效。最高院在修水巨通与稀土公司及江西巨通合同纠纷案((2018)最高法民终119号)的裁判说理,明晰了让与担保的相关争议问题,与《九民纪要(稿)》第71条关于让与担保裁判思路一脉相承。在该案中,最高院认为"《股权转让协议》在转让目的、交易结构以及股东权利等方面,均具有不同于单纯的股权转让的特点,其权利义务内容及实际履行情况,符合让与担保的基本架构,系以股权转让的方式实现担保债权的目的,其性质应认定为股权让与担保。"

结合第89条所述交易模式,如认为信托公司与出让方之间构成金融借款合同关系,则特定资产或其收益权转让及回购符合让与担保的基本要件,理由如下:第一,信托公司与出让方之间存在债权债务关系;第二,信托公司与出让方之间具有转让特定资产或其收益权至信托公司名下之外观;第三,特定资产或其收益权系以担保债权实现为目的,信托公司作为名义受让人,其权利范围不同于完整意义上的股东权利、所有权人权利等,有诸多受限,例如:股权作为转让及回购标的,信托公司不享有表决权、不参与股权的经营管理,且标的股权对应的未分配利润不作实际分配;不动产作为转让及回购标的,信托公司仅为名义所有权人,按合同约定不享有处置权。

至于特定资产或其收益权转让及回购协议的效力,从通谋虚伪角度,特定资产或其收益权转让为假,让与担保是真。根据《民法总则》第一百四十六条的规定,"行为人与相对人以虚假的意思表示实施的民事法律行为无效。以虚假的意思表示隐藏的民事法律行为的效力,依照有关法律规定处理。"因此,虚假的意思表示行为即特定资产或其收益权转让行为因非当事人的真实意思表示而无效,隐藏的行为即让与担保行为之效力需依据《合同法》第五十二条来认定。如让与担保行为本身不存在违反法律、行政法规的强制性规定情形,应认定为有效。对于动产已交付或股权、不动产已变更登记至信托公司名下的情形,可参照最相近的担保物权的规定,认定其具有物权效力,也即信托公司能在担保债权金额范围内以特定资产的价值优先受偿。

三、优先与劣后受益人法律关系认定

(一)信托产品结构化安排回顾


《中国银监会关于加强信托公司结构化信托业务监管有关问题的通知》(银监通[2010]2号)规定,"结构化信托业务是指信托公司根据投资者不同的风险偏好对信托受益权进行分层配置,按照分层配置中的优先与劣后安排进行收益分配,使具有不同风险承担能力和意愿的投资者通过投资不同层级的受益权来获取不同的收益并承担相应风险的集合资金信托业务。"资金信托属于《指导意见》规制下的八大资管产品之一,按照其对分级资管产品的定义,"分级资产管理产品是指存在一级份额以上的份额为其他级份额提供一定的风险补偿,收益分配不按份额比例计算,由资产管理合同另行约定的产品"。

在商业实践中,信托产品的结构化安排主要包括:(1)优先级优先分配收益,在优先级受益人从信托计划获得的收益达到预期收益率之前,信托计划不向劣后级受益人分配收益;(2)劣后级补足优先级预期收益,如信托计划可变现的现金财产不足以向优先级受益人按照其预期收益率分配优先收益时,劣后级受益人承诺补足差额部分;(3)劣后级以固定价格回购优先级份额,在特定期限届满或信托计划未能按期付足优先级收益等情形下,劣后级受益人以固定价格回购优先级份额。

(二)《九民纪要(稿)》第90条之辨析


《九民纪要(稿)》第90条提出,"......劣后级受益人负有在信托到期后向优先级受益人返还本金并支付固定收益等义务,对信托财产享有扣除相关税费、优先级受益人本金和预期收益之后的其余部分的财产利益等权利的,优先级受益人与劣后级受益人之间的关系一般可以认定为借款合同关系,劣后级受益人为债务人,优先级受益人为债权人。"在条文表述上,该条未明确可认定为借款合同关系的具体交易结构。此外,基于对信托计划参与主体、各主体间法律关系及一般的信托产品合同条款之理解,"劣后级受益人负有在信托到期后向优先级受益人返还本金并支付固定收益等义务"存在歧义。需要明确的是,首先,信托关系并非债权债务关系,不存在信托到期后受托人向受益人返还本金及利息之说,并且信托关系本身不受优先级与劣后级受益人之法律关系的影响;其次,按一般操作,优先级受益人与劣后级受益人分别与受托人签订信托合同,除非信托文件或二者另行签订的文件中设定了劣后级对优先级的收益补足或回购义务,否则优先与劣后级受益人之间不存在特殊法律关系;再者,如上所述,优先与劣后之间的结构化安排存在多种形式,并非能一刀切地归类适用《九民纪要(稿)》第90条所述交易模式及裁判思路。

从探讨该条适用场景出发,笔者认为其可能适用于融资方本身作为信托计划劣后级受益人且其对优先级受益人保本保收益承诺提供差额补足、到期固定价款回购等形式的增信措施。例如,融资方以自有财产(主要为股权、股票、不动产等)或其收益权委托信托公司发起设立信托计划,取得信托计划的受益权(包括优先级和劣后级);融资方向投资人转让其所持优先级受益权,同时承诺特定条件成就时以固定价款回购优先级受益人持有的优先级信托计划份额。但需要注意的是,前述商业场景在结构化信托中并不罕见,什么情况下会被认定为优先级与劣后级受益人之间的借款合同关系,哪些因素(如:明显的融资目的、保本保收益的类别与判断)会引发此种审判倾向值得探讨,以下将结合过往司法实践予以分析。

(三)结构化信托的优先与劣后受益人法律关系认定之过往司法实践

经检索司法案例,较少案例对信托计划优先与劣后级受益人之间的法律关系进行了定性;针对《指导意见》颁布前设立的资管产品,多数案例就其劣后级受(收)益人对优先级受(收)益人预期收益率保障所提供的差额补足、远期回购协议等增信文件的效力予以认可并重点阐述(例如:"深圳市中恒汇志投资有限公司、国金证券股份有限公司合同纠纷((2018)最高法民终667号)"、"史利兴与深圳市融通资本管理股份有限公司委托理财合同纠纷((2017)粤03民终7851号)"、"中国金谷国际信托有限责任公司与浙江优选中小企业投资管理有限公司营业信托纠纷((2014)二中民(商)初字第11032号))"),部分论述了相关差额补足协议/承诺函、远期回购协议与保证担保、债务加入的区别。

值得一提的是,在"徐文玉、张宇借款合同纠纷案((2017)最高法民终604号)"中,最高院在二审判决中对特定受益人与一般受益人的关系进行了如下论述:按照信托合同的约定[4],徐文玉作为特定受益人,其义务是在信托到期后向一般受益人返还本金并支付年化7%的收益,并承担该信托计划所购众和股份股票价格变动的风险;其权利是在支付信托计划费用、信托税费、一般受益权人本金和预期收益之后,享受其余部分的财产利益。根据《中华人民共和国合同法》第一百九十六条关于"借款合同是借款人向贷款人借款,到期返还借款并支付利息的合同"的规定,该信托计划中特定受益权人徐文玉与一般受益权人陕国投·财富5号资金信托计划之间的法律关系,依法应当认定为借款合同关系。

该案二审的核心争议焦点在于涉案《过桥借款合同》性质与效力、涉案股票的实质所有人,对于信托计划涉及的交易文件细节论述较少,笔者在此不宜做过多解读,但从基本事实与法院审理意见中可窥见:其一,本案的劣后级受益人对优先级受益人提供保本、保收益的承诺,优先级受益人不承担任何商业风险。其二,法院基于实质重于形式的原则穿透整个交易安排,劣后级受益人的目的就是为了获取融资,且优先级受益人对此知情,在不承担投资风险的情况下获取固定利息是其目的。其三,本案中信托公司不承担主动管理职能,按照劣后级受益人的指示运作,优先与劣后级受益人均无设立真实结构化信托的意思表示。

综上,该案具有特殊性,不能直接类推用于认定一般的结构化信托中优先级与劣后级的法律关系,但其体现的审查当事人权利义务、合同履行情况、整体交易安排将是金融审判基本趋势。

(四)反思建议

当前的征求意见稿在适用商业场景、法律关系认定上有待进一步明晰,即便是针对上文提及的交易结构,认定优先级与劣后级受益人之间为借款合同关系能否成为类似交易结构下的原则性审判思路,也有待司法实践检验。但仅就《九民纪要(稿)》第90条的条文论述本身,建议明确适用前提为劣后级受益人承诺对优先级受益人的预期信托利益提供差额补足,或承诺在特定期限届满时(例如:信托计划终止/提前终止)按优先级受益人投资本金+预期信托收益率的固定价款回购。

文中备注:

[1] 在类似交易安排中,信托公司通常会要求转让方(融资方)的股东或其关联方("回购义务人")签订合同或出具《承诺函》,在转让方(融资方)不履行回购义务时其以固定价款回购特定资产收益权。按照该类合同、《承诺函》或类似文件的内容约定,回购义务人的回购义务并非必然发生,往往以融资方不按时回购为触发条件。司法实践对该类书面文件性质的认定,需要结合文件名称、内容、出具背景、履约过程等事实综合分析,可能被认定为构成保证担保((2015)浦民一(民)初字第30542号)、债务加入((2018)最高法民终867号)、独立合同关系((2017)最高法民终478号),一般认可其有效性。受限于本文篇幅,在此不予展开讨论。

[2] 参见《让资产管理行业回归大信托的格局》,王涌

[3] 参见(2018)最高法民终355号、(2017)最高法民终927号等审理意见。

[4] 信托合同第7.3条约定的信托财产分配顺序为:优先支付信托计划费用和信托税费,信托财产有剩余的,按照本信托中一般受益人信托利益的约定和计算方法分配一般受益权信托利益;当信托计划财产支付信托计划费用、信托税费、一般受益权信托利益完毕后,所剩余的信托财产为特定受益权信托利益。第7.4条约定的信托利益分配方案为:一般受益人的预期年化收益为7%,若信托计划到期遇有股票停牌等不可预见原因情况导致信托财产无法全部变现时,如果已经变现完成的信托财产不足以支付一般受益人的本金及预期收益,则不足部分的差额部分由特定受益人在2个工作日内追加资金以补足差额部分,用于支付一般受益人的本金及收益;如果已经变现完成的财产等于或大于支付一般受益人的本金及预期收益,则信托财产的现金部分首先用于支付一般受益人的本金及预期收益,剩余现金及无法变现的信托财产在具备变现条件时由受托人按照信托文件的约定支付给特定受益人,直至将信托财产清退完毕。

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