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2014年9月 5日 (金)

民法改正案 消費者保護の観点を忘れずに

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Consumer protection must be a factor in civil code revision
民法改正案 消費者保護の観点を忘れずに

It is vital to modify, in line with changing times, rules of contracts that are deeply linked with people’s daily lives.
 国民生活に深く関わる契約のルールは、時代の変化に応じて改めていくことが欠かせない。

A subcommittee of the Justice Ministry’s Legislative Council has compiled a proposal that would drastically amend provisions concerning contracts in the Civil Code. The ministry plans to submit the bill to revise the Civil Code to an ordinary Diet session next year.
 政府の法制審議会の部会が、民法の契約に関する規定を抜本改正する案をまとめた。法務省は来年の通常国会に民法改正案を提出する方針だ。

Since the code was enacted in 1896, no major amendments have been made to the contractual provisions, with disputes having been dealt with through accumulated judicial precedents.
 契約の分野は、1896年の民法制定以来、大きな改正がなく、裁判例の積み重ねで、個々の紛争に対処してきた。

The latest revision of the code is designed to have major judicial precedents reflected properly in statutory law.
今回の法改正は、これまでの裁判例をきちんと法律に反映させる狙いがある。

Clarifying by statute the rules of various types of contracts can be considered appropriate in protecting people’s rights.
 様々な契約のルールを法的に明確化することは、国民の権利を守る上で適切と言える。

A familiar case in point is a review of the statute of limitation over the discharge of debts. The limitations on claims for unpaid accounts or indebtedness differ among different types of businesses, such as one year for bar and restaurant tabs and three years for medical bills.
 身近な例が、お金の支払いを巡る時効の見直しだ。未払い金、いわゆるツケの債権が消滅する期間は、飲食代が1年、医療費は3年など、業種ごとに異なる。

Under the proposed rules, the limitation period for payment is uniformly set at five years, regardless of the types of businesses, beginning when a creditor becomes aware of their right to claim an unpaid account. It is quite important to simplify these rules and make them easier for people to understand.
 改正案は、業種にかかわらず、「債権者が請求できると知った時から5年」に統一した。ルールを簡素化し、分かりやすくするのは、重要なことだ。

Provisions concerning deposits for rented accommodation have also been included, for the first time, in the code.
 賃貸住宅の「敷金」に関する規定も新たに盛り込んだ。

Security for tenants

The deposit paid to a landlord when renting an apartment is often explained as money that will be refunded when leaving the property. In reality, however, there are more than a few cases in which scant refunds are made, as landlords subtract from the rental deposit those expenses needed to restore the room to the condition it was in when the lease began.
 アパートなどを借りる際、家主に支払う敷金は、退去時に返還されると説明を受けることが多い。だが、実際には、家主が部屋の原状回復費用を差し引くため、ほとんど戻らない例も少なくない。

Under the proposed provisions, the rental deposit is defined as security for house rent and it is stipulated that a landlord is obliged to return it to the renter upon the expiration of the lease. It has also been stipulated that, regarding interior damage from normal wear and tear, a renter will not be obliged to restore the rented property to its original condition. These provisions are reasonable in light of social common sense.
 改正案は、敷金を「家賃の担保」と定義し、賃貸借終了時に返還義務が生じると明記した。通常の使用による室内の傷みなどについて、借り主は原状回復の義務を負わないとも定めた。社会常識に照らし、妥当な内容だろう。

But other problems remain.
 一方で、課題も残っている。

Under the proposed revisions, personal surety for a loan to a business corporation is prohibited in principle. As an exceptional case, if someone other than the manager of the company intends to become a guarantor, a notarized document confirming the will of the guarantor must be prepared in the presence of a notary public.
 改正案は、企業向け融資などで個人保証を原則禁止し、例外として経営者以外の人が保証人になる際には、公証人が立ち会い、保証の意思を確認する公正証書を作成するよう義務づけた。

There is no end to tragic cases in which people cosign for loans out of kindness, only to end up being burdened with massive liabilities, having their daily lives collapse and even being driven to suicide. In light of these cases, we can understand that this provision is intended to prevent people from becoming guarantors carelessly.
 親切心から連帯保証を引き受けた結果、多額の債務を背負い、生活の破綻や自殺に至る悲劇は後を絶たない。安易な保証を防ごうという趣旨は理解できる。

But there are also cases in which relatives of managers of small companies have no choice but to become guarantors for loans. We are worried that such guarantors may end up facing harsh loan collection measures behind the cloak of a notary document.
 ただ、中小企業経営者の家族らが、やむを得ず保証人となることもある。公正証書を盾に厳しい取り立てを受けないか心配だ。

On a proposal to incorporate into the code the provisions of “clauses” that business corporations present to consumers as their contractual terms, there are opposing voices from the business world.
 企業が消費者に契約条項として示す「約款」の規定を民法に設ける案に対しては、経済界の中に反対の声がある。

As the clauses deal with diverse aspects of such contracts, they tend to cause trouble if a consumer does not understand them sufficiently. Establishing clear rules will be necessary from a viewpoint of protecting consumer interests.
 だが、約款の内容は多岐にわたるため、消費者の理解が不十分だと、トラブルを招きやすい。一定のルールを設けることは、消費者保護の観点から必要だろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 3, 2014)Speech

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