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Shall还是must? 关于义务的词语 Shall or must? Words of obligation

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Shall还是must? 关于义务的词语 Shall or must? Words of obligationShall还是must? 关于义务的词语 Shall or must? Words of obligation

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优良的法律文件的起草以包含清晰性与连贯性为目标,但这并不容易达到。当律师面对经常显得具有同样含义的词汇和短语的多种选择时,要达到上述目标极富于挑战。

英文中的“shall”或者“must”

其中一个让英文法域的律师一直感到兴趣盎然的事儿,是在“shall”和“must”之间做出选择。这两个词是同一含义吗?

如果是的话,“must”只是“shall”的现代版本?如果它们不具有同一含义,那么它们之间的区别又是什么,并且在什么时候每个词应当被使用呢?

“Shall”当然比“must”更为传统和正式,尤其当它在法律文件中被使用时。然而,不同于“must”,在不同的语境下,它有不同的用法。例如:

在当局或者一个权力机构发布一项新的命令或者法令时,如下所述:(“shalt”是“shall”的古用法)

汝不可偷盗。

Thou shalt not steal.

当合同一方承担做某事的义务时,如下所述:

买方应当在货物交付后立即支付购买价款。

The purchaser shall pay the purchase price immediately upon delivery of the goods.

当它指一项将在未来发生的行为时,如下所述:

我明天要和你谈谈。 或者 我们明天要再见一面。

I shall speak to you tomorrow. or We shall meet again tomorrow.

有趣的是,在英国语法的传统规则下,“shall”(不是“will”)是同第一人称代词 (即“我”和“我们”)相搭配使用的意谓将来时的恰当用词。虽然英国人仍旧倾向于不时地遵循这一用法,但它目前在说英文的国家中相对少见了。

在上述第二种语境中,即当一方在合同中承担一项义务时,“shall”的使用对于律师来说具有最大的利害关系。尤其在英国和美国,它的使用在商务合同中仍然非常普遍。在其他区域,如澳大利亚,很多律师喜欢用“must”来替代“shall”,尤其在消费者合同的情境下。这是因为“must”被认为更容易为外行所理解,从而更符合简明英文的原则。

但是这些词语意味着同一含义吗?如果不是,不同之处又是什么呢?这便是事情变得有些富于争议的地方。

有些人声称两个词语在实质上没有什么不同而且因为如上所述的不同用法,避免使用“shall”会更好。其他人则宣称存在不同;即“shall”创设一项义务,而“must”仅仅指一项已经存在的义务或者要求,在该语境下,“must”等同于“is required to”这个短语,如下例所述:

申请人必须在到期日或者在到期日之前递交申请表。

An applicant must lodge an application form on or before the due date.

在上述例子中,“must”这个词并没有给申请人施加一项义务去做任何事情。取而代之,它明确了如果申请人想要提起一项有效的申请,申请人必须在到期日或者在到期日之前递交申请表。

英国一个名为“BW Gas Ltd v JAS Shipping Ltd(2010)”的案例考虑到了“shall”的用法。这个案例在法律执业人士中引起了些许骚动,因为它突出强调了“shall”并不总是施加一项义务,而且它的含义将视乎上下文而定。

这个案例涉及一个船舶租用合同 (即关于出租船舶的合同)。争议的双方是主租船方和次租船方。主租船方从船主那里租船,船只被另一个第三方建造,建筑商和船主之间由一个造船合同所约束。

当该船只由主租船方交付给次租船方时,次租船方发现某些部件未安装在该船只上。次租船方基于主租船方未遵循造船合同交付船只而要求赔偿。该造船合同规定如下:

相关部件应当由船主自行提供。

The [relevant items] shall be supplied by the owner on the owner’s account.

争议的问题为是否无法提供并安装相关部件意味着船只没有遵循造船合同而建造。反过来,这个问题依赖于船主是否有义务提供相关的部件由建筑商予以安装。

法庭判定:合同并没有给船主施加一个关于提供相关部件的明确的义务,因而建筑商也没有安装的义务。取而代之的是,合同规定:如果船主不能提供相关部件,船只将会在没有那些部件的情况下被建造,但仍旧是遵循了该造船合同而建造的。

基于此,法庭判定:船只事实上是遵循该造船合同而进行建造的,并且上述条款中的“shall”这个词并没有施加任何义务。

实质上,该条款仅仅确定了如果那些部件由船主提供的话,哪一方应当在它们的费用和供应方面负有责任。

该条款可用不同方式更为准确地起草如下:

如果船主需要安装相关部件,它们必须由船主自行提供。

If the owner requires the [relevant items] to be installed, they must be supplied by the owner on the owner’s account.

在这一语境下,“shall”这个词并未在造船合同下创设任何义务。我认为“must”这个词将会是更为适合使用的词,原因是此条款的着重点并不在于创设一项义务,而在于如果任何一方希望行使一项权利或者达到某个结果,该等要求将被满足。

另一个简短的例子可用来阐明此点:比如说一个合同规定了某一方在某种情形下终止合同的条款。律师也许会起草该条款如下:

如果合同任何一方希望终止本合同,终止的通知应当根据第23条递送合同另一方。

If either party wishes to terminate the contract, a notice of termination shall be delivered to the other party in accordance with clause 23.

?一种更好的起草此条款的方式为如下所述:

如果任何一方希望终止本合同,根据第23条,该方必须给另一方递送终止合同的通知。

If either party wishes to terminate the contract, it must deliver a notice of termination to the other party in accordance with clause 23.

在中文里的处境

如同英文,当起草指向义务或者要求的条款时,中文给律师提供了宽泛的词汇选择。这些包括下列的“必须”、“ 应当”、“需要” 和“得”。

实践表明在中国大陆,“应当”通常相当于英文中的“shall”来使用,“必须”通常被等同于英文中的“must”来使用。另一方面,在香港,“须”比“应当”在表明“shall”这个意思时使用得更加频繁,这尤其体现在立法中。

另外,“必须”的语气显得比“应当”更强。在一种解释中,“必须”意味一项义务或者要求是绝对的和无限制的,而“应当”则表明一项义务或者要求或许是有保留的(换言之,也许在某些情境下,该义务或要求无法适用)。在此意义上,“应当”引入了英文“should”之含义。但如果“应当”在合同中使用,是否这是正确的解释便颇有疑问,因为在此情境下,似乎没有任何依据可用以区分有保留的和无限制的义务。

对中国大陆的立法分析表明,一般而言,词语“应当”和“必须”如同“shall”和“must”在英语中被以同一方式加以使用。而且,“得”这个词通常被用在复合词“不得”中以表示“禁止”。两个例子展示如下:

《物权法》第八十七条 不动产权利人对相邻权利人因通行等必须利用其土地的,应当提供必要的便利。

《合同法》第八条 依法成立的合同,对当事人具有法律约束力。当事人应当按照约定履行自己的义务,不得擅自变更或者解除合同。

Property Rights Law, article 87 The holders of rights in respect of immovable property shall provide the necessary convenience if the neighbouring rights holders must [i.e. are required to] use their land for purposes such as access rights.

Contract Law, article 8 A contract entered into in accordance with the law has legally binding effect on the parties. The parties shall perform their obligations in accordance with the agreement and must not unilaterally amend or terminate the contract.

有趣的是,《中华人民共和国宪法》似乎兼用“应当”和“必须”来施加义务,如下述例子所显示:

第五条 一切国家机关和武装力量、各政党和各社会团体、各企业事业组织都必须遵守宪法 和法律。一切违反宪法和法律的行为,必须予以追究。

第一百一十八条 国家在民族自治地方开发资源、建设企业的时候,应当照顾民族自治地方的利益。

Article 5 All state organs, the armed forces, each political party and social organisation and each enterprise, institution and organisation must abide by the constitution and the laws. All acts in violation of the constitution or the laws must be investigated.

Article 118 When exploiting natural resources and building enterprises in the autonomous minority nationality areas, the state shall consider the interests of the autonomous minority nationality areas.

有意思的问题是,在此语境下这两个词语含义是否有任何不同?我有兴趣了解读者们的观点。

建议讨论问题?

你如何看待这些词语的使用呢?以你的经验来看,实践做法是否会因为不同的情形而有所区别?

一致性经常被称为“文书写作黄金法则”。你是否同意不论使用哪些词语,重要的是保持一致性?你能否举出说明其重要性的例子? 有关自由裁量词语的讨论,参见《商法词汇》下一章《可以和不得》。

China LexiconLanguage

Shall or must??

Words of obligation

The goals of good legal drafting – including clarity and consistency – are not easy to achieve, and achieving these goals can be particularly challenging when the lawyer is faced with many choices among words and phrases that often appear to have the same meaning. ‘Shall’ or ‘must’ in English.

‘Shall’ or ‘must’ in English

One of the issues that continues to excite lawyers in English-speaking jurisdictions is choosing between “shall” and “must”. Does each of these words mean the same thing?

If so, is “must” just the modern version of “shall”? If they do not mean the same thing, what is the difference between them, and when should each be used?

“Shall” is certainly more traditional and formal than “must”, particularly when it is used in legal documents. Unlike “must”, however, it has different usages in different contexts.

For example:

When an authority or power issues an order or decree, as in the following (“shalt” is the archaic equivalent of “shall”):

汝不可偷盗。

Thou shalt not steal.

When a party to a contract undertakes an obligation to do something, as in the following:

买方应当在货物交付后立即支付购买价款。

The purchaser shall pay the purchase price immediately upon delivery of the goods.

When it refers to an action that will take place in the future, as in the following:

我明天要和你谈谈。?或者?我们明天要再见一面。

I shall speak to you tomorrow.?or?We shall meet again tomorrow.

Interestingly, under the traditional rules of English grammar, “shall” (not “will”) was the correct word to use with the first person pronoun (i.e. “I” and “we”) to mean future time. This practice is now relatively uncommon in the English-speaking world, although British people are still inclined to observe it from time to time.

The second context above – namely, the use of “shall” when a party undertakes an obligation in a contract – is of greatest interest to the lawyer. Its use is still very common in commercial contracts, particularly in the UK and the US. In other jurisdictions such as Australia, many lawyers prefer to use “must” in place of “shall”, particularly in the context of consumer contracts. This is because “must” is considered to be more easily understood by the lay person and therefore more consistent with “plain English” principles.

But do the words mean the same thing and, if not, what is the difference? This is where the issue becomes somewhat controversial.

There are those who claim that there is no difference in substance between the two words and that it would be better to avoid the use of “shall” because of the different usages as outlined above. Others claim that there is a difference; namely, “shall” creates an obligation, whereas “must” simply refers to an obligation or requirement that already exists. In this context, “must” is equivalent to the phrase “is required to”, as in the following example:

申请人必须在到期日或者在到期日之前递交申请表。

An applicant must lodge an application form on or before the due date.

In the above example, the word “must” does not impose an obligation on the applicant to do anything. Instead, it makes it clear that if the applicant wishes to make an effective application, the applicant must lodge an application form on or before the due date.

The use of “shall” was considered in an English case called BW Gas v JAS Shipping (2010). This case generated some excitement amongst the legal profession, since it highlights the reality that “shall” does not always impose an obligation and its meaning will depend on the context.

This case involved a ship charter (i.e. a contract for the hire of a ship). The parties to the dispute were the head-charterer and the sub-charterer. The head-charterer had chartered the ship from the owner and the ship had been constructed by another third party, the builder, under a building contract with the owner.

When the ship was delivered by the head-charterer to the sub-charterer, the sub-charterer discovered that certain items had not been installed in the ship. The sub-charterer claimed compensation on the basis that the head-charterer had not delivered the ship in accordance with the building contract. The building contract provided as follows:

相关部件应当由船主自行提供。

The [relevant items] shall be supplied by the owner on the owner’s account.

The question in dispute was whether the failure to supply and install the relevant items meant that the ship had not been constructed in accordance with the building contract. In turn, this question depended on whether the owner had an obligation to supply the relevant items for installation by the builder.

The court decided that the ship contract did not impose an express obligation on the owner to supply the relevant items and, consequently, there was no obligation on the builder to install them. Instead, the contract provided that if the owner did not supply the relevant items, the ship would be constructed without them but would still be constructed in accordance with the building contract.

On this basis, the court decided that the ship had in fact been constructed in accordance with the building contract and that the word “shall” in the above provision did not impose any obligation. In effect, the provision simply determined which party would be responsible in terms of the cost and supply of the relevant items if they were supplied by the owner. The provisions could be drafted differently – and more accurately – as follows:

如果船主需要安装相关部件,它们必须由船主自行提供。

If the owner requires the [relevant items] to be installed, they must be supplied by the owner on the owner’s account.

In this context, the word “shall” did not create any obligation under the building contract. I would argue that the word “must” would have been the more appropriate word to use, since the focus of the provision was not on creating an obligation, but on the requirements to be satisfied if one of the parties wished to exercise a right or achieve a certain outcome.

Another short example to illustrate the point: let’s say that a contract makes provision for a party to terminate the contract in certain circumstances. A lawyer might draft the provisions as follows:

如果合同任何一方希望终止本合同,终止的通知应当根据第23条递送合同另一方。

If either party wishes to terminate the contract, a notice of termination shall be delivered to the other party in accordance with clause 23.

A better way of drafting the provision would be as follows:

如果任何一方希望终止本合同,根据第23条,该方必须给另一方递送终止合同的通知。

If either party wishes to terminate the contract, it must deliver a notice of termination to the other party in accordance with clause 23.

The position in Chinese

Like English, Chinese provides the lawyer with a wide choice of words when drafting provisions that refer to obligations or requirements. These include the following: bixu (必须),yingdang (应当), xuyao (需要) and dei (得).

Practice suggests that in mainland China, yingdang (应当) is generally used as the equivalent of “shall” in English, and bixu (必须) is generally used as the equivalent of “must” in English. In Hong Kong, on the other hand, xu (须) is used more often than yingdang (应当) to mean “shall”, particularly in legislation.

In addition, it appears that the tone of bixu (必须) is stronger than yingdang (应当). On one interpretation, bixu (必须) implies that an obligation or requirement is absolute and unqualified, whereas yingdang (应当) implies that an obligation or requirement may be qualified (i.e. there may be circumstances in which the obligation or requirement does not apply). In this sense,yingdang (应当) imports the meaning of “should” in English. It is questionable whether this is the correct interpretation when yingdang (应当) is used in contracts, since there does not appear to be any basis on which to distinguish between qualified and unqualified obligations in this context.

An analysis of legislation in mainland China suggests that, broadly speaking, the wordsyingdang (应当) and bixu (必须) are used in the same way as the words “shall” and “must” in English. In addition, the word dei (得) is generally used in the compound bude (不得) to mean “must not”. A couple of examples are set out below:

《物权法》第八十七条 不动产权利人对相邻权利人因通行等必须利用其土地的,应当提供必要的便利。

《合同法》第八条 依法成立的合同,对当事人具有法律约束力。当事人应当按照约定履行自己的义务,不得擅自变更或者解除合同。

Property Rights Law, article 87 The holders of rights in respect of immovable property shall provide the necessary convenience if the neighbouring rights holders must [i.e. are required to] use their land for purposes such as access rights.

Contract Law, article 8 A contract entered into in accordance with the law has legally binding effect on the parties. The parties shall perform their obligations in accordance with the agreement and must not unilaterally amend or terminate the contract.

Interestingly, the PRC constitution appears to use both yingdang (应当) and bixu (必须) to impose obligations, as indicated in the examples below:

第五条 一切国家机关和武装力量、各政党和各社会团体、各企业事业组织都必须遵守宪法 和法律。一切违反宪法和法律的行为,必须予以追究。

第一百一十八条 国家在民族自治地方开发资源、建设企业的时候,应当照顾民族自治地方的利益。

Article 5 All state organs, the armed forces, each political party and social organisation and each enterprise, institution and organisation must abide by the constitution and the laws. All acts in violation of the constitution or the laws must be investigated.

Article 118 When exploiting natural resources and building enterprises in the autonomous minority nationality areas, the state shall consider the interests of the autonomous minority nationality areas.

An interesting question is whether there is any difference in meaning between the two words in this context.?I would be interested in readers’ views.

Suggested discussion points

What is your view about the use of these words? In your experience, does practice depend on the circumstances?

Consistency has often been described as the “golden rule of drafting”.?Do you agree that irrespective of which words are used, it is important to achieve consistency? Can you think of examples in which this is important?

For a discussion about words of discretion, see the next chapter entitled ‘May and may not’ in China Lexicon.


葛安德以前是年利达律师事务所上海代表处合伙人,现在墨尔本法学院教授法律,担任该法学院亚洲法研究中心的副主任。葛安德的新书《商法词汇:法律概念的翻译和诠释》重新汇编了其在本刊“商法词汇”专栏撰写的 所有文章。该书由Vantage Asia出版。如欲订购,请即登录 www.vantageasia.com

A former partner of Linklaters Shanghai, Andrew Godwin teaches law at Melbourne Law School in Australia, where he is an associate director of its Asian Law Centre. Andrew’s new book is a compilation of China Business Law Journal’s popular Lexicon series, entitled China Lexicon: Defining and translating legal terms. The book is published by Vantage Asia and available at www.vantageasia.com.

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