Nebraska Uniform Commercial Code 2A-101
- Uniform Commercial Code
This article shall be known and may be cited as the Uniform Commercial Code—Leases.
- Laws 1991, LB 159, § 3.
Rationale for Codification:
There are several reasons for codifying the law with respect to leases of goods. An analysis of the case law as it applies to leases of goods suggests at least three significant issues to be resolved by codification. First, what is a lease? It is necessary to define lease to determine whether a transaction creates a lease or a security interest disguised as a lease. If the transaction creates a security interest disguised as a lease, the lessor will be required to file a financing statement or take other action to perfect its interest in the goods against third parties. There is no such requirement with respect to leases. Yet the distinction between a lease and a security interest disguised as a lease is not clear. Second, will the lessor be deemed to have made warranties to the lessee? If the transaction is a sale the express and implied warranties of article 2 of the code apply. However, the warranty law with respect to leases is uncertain. Third, what remedies are available to the lessor upon the lessee's default? If the transaction is a security interest disguised as a lease, the answer is stated in part 5 of the Article on Secured Transactions (Article 9). There is no clear answer with respect to leases.
There are reasons to codify the law with respect to leases of goods in addition to those suggested by a review of the reported cases. The answer to this important question should not be limited to the issues raised in these cases. Is it not also proper to determine the remedies available to the lessee upon the lessor's default? It is, but that issue is not reached through a review of the reported cases. This is only one of the many issues presented in structuring, negotiating, and documenting a lease of goods.
After it was decided to proceed with the codification project, the drafting committee of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws looked for a statutory analogue, gradually narrowing the focus to the Article on Sales (Article 2) and the Article on Secured Transactions (Article 9). A review of the literature with respect to the sale of goods reveals that article 2 is predicated upon certain assumptions: Parties to the sales transaction frequently are without counsel; the agreement of the parties often is oral or evidenced by scant writings; obligations between the parties are bilateral; applicable law is influenced by the need to preserve freedom of contract. A review of the literature with respect to personal property security law reveals that article 9 is predicated upon very different assumptions: Parties to a secured transaction regularly are represented by counsel; the agreement of the parties frequently is reduced to a writing, extensive in scope; the obligations between the parties are essentially unilateral; and applicable law seriously limits freedom of contract.
The lease is closer in spirit and form to the sale of goods than to the creation of a security interest. While parties to a lease are sometimes represented by counsel and their agreement is often reduced to a writing, the obligations of the parties are bilateral and the common law of leasing is dominated by the need to preserve freedom of contract. Thus the drafting committee concluded that article 2 was the appropriate statutory analogue.
The drafting committee then identified and resolved several issues critical to codification:
Scope: The scope of the article was limited to leases (section 2A-102). There was no need to include leases intended as security, i.e., security interests disguised as leases, as they are adequately treated in article 9. Further, even if leases intended as security were included, the need to preserve the distinction would remain, as policy suggests treatment significantly different from that accorded leases.
Definition of Lease: Lease was defined to exclude leases intended as security (section 2A-103(1)(j)). Given the litigation to date a revised definition of security interest was suggested for inclusion in the code. (Section 1-201(37)). This revision sharpens the distinction between leases and security interests disguised as leases.
Filing: The lessor was not required to file a financing statement against the lessee or take any other action to protect the lessor's interest in the goods (section 2A-301). The refined definition of security interest will more clearly signal the need to file to potential lessors of goods. Those lessors who are concerned will file a protective financing statement (section 9-505).
Warranties: All of the express and implied warranties of the Article on Sales (Article 2) were included (sections 2A-210 through 2A-216), revised to reflect differences in lease transactions. The lease of goods is sufficiently similar to the sale of goods to justify this decision. Further, many courts have reached the same decision.
Certificate of Title Laws: Many leasing transactions involve goods subject to certificate of title statutes. To avoid conflict with those statutes, this article is subject to them (section 2A-104(1)(a)).
Consumer Leases: Many leasing transactions involve parties subject to consumer protection statutes or decisions. To avoid conflict with those laws this article is subject to them to the extent provided in section 2A-104(1)(c) and (2). Further, certain consumer protections have been incorporated in the article.
Finance Leases: Certain leasing transactions substitute the supplier of the goods for the lessor as the party responsible to the lessee with respect to warranties and the like. The definition of finance lease (section 2A-103(1)(g)) was developed to describe these transactions. Various sections of the article implement the substitution of the supplier for the lessor, including sections 2A-209 and 2A-407. No attempt was made to fashion a special rule where the finance lessor is an affiliate of the supplier of goods; this is to be developed by the courts, case by case.
Sale and Leaseback: Sale and leaseback transactions are becoming increasingly common. A number of state statutes treat transactions where possession is retained by the seller as fraudulent per se or prima facie fraudulent. That position is not in accord with modern practice and thus is changed by the article "if the buyer bought for value and in good faith" (section 2A-308(3)).
Remedies: The article has not only provided for lessor's remedies upon default by the lessee (sections 2A-523 through 2A-532), but also for lessee's remedies upon default by the lessor (sections 2A-508 through 2A-522). This is a significant departure from article 9, which provides remedies only for the secured party upon default by the debtor. This difference is compelled by the bilateral nature of the obligations between the parties to a lease.
Damages: Many leasing transactions are predicated on the parties' ability to stipulate an appropriate measure of damages in the event of default. The rule with respect to sales of goods (section 2-718) is not sufficiently flexible to accommodate this practice. Consistent with the common-law emphasis upon freedom to contract, the article has created a revised rule that allows greater flexibility with respect to leases of goods (section 2A-504(1)).
This article is a revision of the Uniform Personal Property Leasing Act, which was approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in August, 1985. However, it was believed that the subject matter of the Uniform Personal Property Leasing Act would be better treated as an article of the code. Thus, although the conference promulgated the Uniform Personal Property Leasing Act as a uniform law, activity was held in abeyance to allow time to restate the Uniform Personal Property Leasing Act as article 2A.
In August, 1986 the conference approved and recommended this article (including conforming amendments to article 1 and article 9) for promulgation as an amendment to the code. In December, 1986 the Council of the American Law Institute approved and recommended this article (including conforming amendments to article 1 and article 9), with official comments, for promulgation as an amendment to the code. In March, 1987 the Permanent Editorial Board for the Uniform Commercial Code approved and recommended this article (including conforming amendments to article 1 and article 9), with official comments, for promulgation as an amendment to the code. In May, 1987 the American Law Institute approved and recommended this article (including conforming amendments to article 1 and article 9), with official comments, for promulgation as an amendment to the code. In August, 1987 the conference confirmed its approval of the final text of this article.
Upon its initial promulgation, article 2A was rapidly enacted in several states, was introduced in a number of other states, and underwent bar association, law revision commission, and legislative study in still further states. In that process debate emerged, principally sparked by the study of article 2A by the California Bar Association, California's nonuniform amendments to article 2A, and articles appearing in a symposium on article 2A published after its promulgation in the Alabama Law Review. The debate chiefly centered on whether article 2A had struck the proper balance or was clear enough concerning the ability of a lessor to grant a security interest in its leasehold interest and in the residual, priority between a secured party and the lessee, and the lessor's remedy structure under article 2A.
This debate over issues on which reasonable minds could and did differ began to affect the enactment effort for article 2A in a deleterious manner. Consequently, the Standby Committee for article 2A, composed predominantly of the former members of the drafting committee, reviewed the legislative actions and studies in the various states, and opened a dialogue with the principal proponents of the nonuniform amendments. Negotiations were conducted in conjunction with, and were facilitated by, a study of the uniform article and the nonuniform amendments by the New York Law Revision Commission. Ultimately, a consensus was reached, which has been approved by the membership of the conference, the Permanent Editorial Board, and the council of the institute. Rapid and uniform enactment of article 2A is expected as a result of the completed amendments. The article 2A experience reaffirms the essential viability of the procedures of the conference and the institute for creating and updating uniform state law in the commercial law area.
Relationship of Article 2A to Other Articles:
The Article on Sales provided a useful point of reference for codifying the law of leases. Many of the provisions of that article were carried over, changed to reflect differences in style, leasing terminology, or leasing practices. Thus, the official comments to those sections of article 2 whose provisions were carried over are incorporated by reference in article 2A, as well; further, any case law interpreting those provisions should be viewed as persuasive but not binding on a court when deciding a similar issue with respect to leases. Any change in the sequence that has been made when carrying over a provision from article 2 should be viewed as a matter of style, not substance. This is not to suggest that in other instances article 2A did not also incorporate substantially revised provisions of article 2, article 9, or otherwise where the revision was driven by a concern over the substance; but for the lack of a mandate, the drafting committee might well have made the same or a similar change in the statutory analogue. Those sections in article 2A include sections 2A-104, 2A-105, 2A-106, 2A-108(2) and (4), 2A-109(2), 2A-208, 2A-214(2) and (3)(a), 2A-216, 2A-303, 2A-306, 2A-503, 2A-504(3)(b), 2A-506(2), and 2A-515. For lack of relevance or significance not all of the provisions of article 2 were incorporated in article 2A.
This codification was greatly influenced by the fundamental tenet of the common law as it has developed with respect to leases of goods: Freedom of the parties to contract. Note that, like all other articles of the code, the principles of construction and interpretation contained in article 1 are applicable throughout article 2A (section 2A-103(4)). These principles include the ability of the parties to vary the effect of the provisions of article 2A, subject to certain limitations including those that relate to the obligations of good faith, diligence, reasonableness, and care (section 1-102(3)). Consistent with those principles no negative inference is to be drawn by the episodic use of the phrase "unless otherwise agreed" in certain provisions of article 2A. Section 1-102(4). Indeed, the contrary is true, as the general rule in the code, including this article, is that the effect of the code's provisions may be varied by agreement. Section 1-102(3). This conclusion follows even where the statutory analogue contains the phrase and the correlative provision in article 2A does not.