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SCU on the validity of the contract after the replacement of the 1st page in it

The impossibility of establishing certain circumstances does not relieve the participants in the process from the need to prove them! This conclusion was made public by the Supreme Court of Ukraine on 25.09.19 following the results of the proceedings in case No. 397/928/16-c.

The reason for the dispute was the replacement of the first page in the agreement by one of the parties to the transaction without agreeing this moment with the other party!

The original page contained the entry “the agreement was concluded for 10 years and ends on 03.12.2017”, and in the new edition it was written “the agreement was concluded for 10 years starting from the date of its registration”.

Brief overview of the circumstances of the dispute

The plaintiff filed a claim with the court to recognize the lease agreement as invalid, justifying his claim as follows:

  1. Between him and the defendant, a land lease agreement was previously concluded, by which the land plot was leased for 10 years.
  2. The defendant did not provide the plaintiff with a copy of the contract, and in the last year of its validity the plaintiff learned about the fact of the replacement of the first page.

“The court of first instance satisfied the claim – the contract was declared invalid, the appellate instance agreed with this! The defendant, on the other hand, appealed to the Supreme Court of Ukraine, stating that the plaintiff’s rights were not violated, since the first (new) page of the agreement complies with the legislation regarding the start of the ten-year term of the land plot lease”.

SCU figured out the case

The following was found:

  1. The defendant, after signing the controversial agreement before its registration, really changed its first page without notifying and coordinating this action with the counterparty.
  2. There is no “old” first page, and both parties declared its absence in court, which makes it impossible to establish what kind of content was recorded on this page.

Despite the fact that such circumstances clearly indicate the fact of violation of the rights of one of the parties to the transaction, its invalidity by the courts of previous instances was erroneously recognized, since it was based on assumptions.

The plaintiff accused the defendant, but could not argue, since he did not provide adequate evidence indicating which version of the contract he signed. By itself, the replacement of the page cannot unconditionally indicate a change in the terms of the contract.

In this situation, a legal examination of the contract was necessary. The impossibility of conducting it to compare the old and new pages makes it impossible to satisfy the claim for the recognition of the contract as invalid. Therefore, the contract remains valid!

18.12.2019

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