Uniform Statutory Source: None.
1. This section extends the benefits of the classic "hell or high water" clause to a finance lease that is not a consumer lease. This section is self-executing; no special provision need be added to the contract. This section makes covenants in a finance lease irrevocable and independent due to the function of the finance lessor in a three-party relationship: The lessee is looking to the supplier to perform the essential covenants and warranties. Section 2A-209. Thus, upon the lessee's acceptance of the goods the lessee's promises to the lessor under the lease contract become irrevocable and independent. The provisions of this section remain subject to the obligation of good faith (sections 1-203 and 2A-103(4)), and the lessee's revocation of acceptance (section 2A-517).
2. The section requires the lessee to perform even if the lessor's performance after the lessee's acceptance is not in accordance with the lease contract; the lessee may, however, have and pursue a cause of action against the lessor, e.g., breach of certain limited warranties (sections 2A-210 and 2A-211(1)). This is appropriate because the benefit of the supplier's promises and warranties to the lessor under the supply contract and, in some cases, the warranty of a manufacturer who is not the supplier, is extended to the lessee under the finance lease. Section 2A-209. Despite this balance, this section excludes a finance lease that is a consumer lease. That a consumer be obligated to pay notwithstanding defective goods or the like is a principle that is not tenable under case law (Unico v. Owen, 50 N.J. 101, 232 A.2d 405 (1967)), state statute (Unif. Consumer Credit Code sections 3.403-3.405, 7A U.L.A. 126-31 (1974), or federal statute (15 U.S.C. section 1666i (1982)).
3. The relationship of the three parties to a transaction that qualifies as a finance lease is best demonstrated by a hypothetical. A, the potential lessor, has been contacted by B, the potential lessee, to discuss the lease of an expensive line of equipment that B has recently placed an order for with C, the manufacturer of such goods. The negotiation is completed and A, as lessor, and B, as lessee, sign a lease of the line of equipment for a 60-month term. B, as buyer, assigns the purchase order with C to A. If this transaction creates a lease (section 2A-103(1)(j)), this transaction should qualify as a finance lease. Section 2A-103(1)(g).
4. The line of equipment is delivered by C to B's place of business. After installation by C and testing by B, B accepts the goods by signing a certificate of delivery and acceptance, a copy of which is sent by B to A and C. One year later the line of equipment malfunctions and B falls behind in its manufacturing schedule.
5. Under this article, because the lease is a finance lease, no warranty of fitness or merchantability is extended by A to B. Sections 2A-212(1) and 2A-213. Absent an express provision in the lease agreement, application of section 2A-210 or 2A-211(1), or application of the principles of law and equity, including the law with respect to fraud, duress, or the like (sections 1-103 and 2A-103(4)), B has no claim against A. B's obligation to pay rent to A continues as the obligation became irrevocable and independent when B accepted the line of equipment (section 2A-407(1)). B has no right of setoff with respect to any part of the rent still due under the lease. Section 2A-508(6). However, B may have another remedy. Despite the lack of privity between B and C (the purchase order with C having been assigned by B to A), B may have a claim against C. Section 2A-209(1).
6. This section does not address whether a "hell or high water" clause, i.e., a clause that is to the effect of this section, is enforceable if included in a finance lease that is a consumer lease or a lease that is not a finance lease. That issue will continue to be determined by the facts of each case and other law which this section does not affect. Sections 2A-103(4), 2A-104, and 9-403 through 9-406. However, with respect to finance leases that are not consumer leases courts have enforced "hell or high water" clauses. In re O.P.M. Leasing Servs., 21 Bankr. 993, 1006 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 1982).
7. Subsection (2) further provides that a promise that has become irrevocable and independent under subsection (1) is enforceable not only between the parties but also against third parties. Thus, the finance lease can be transferred or assigned without disturbing enforceability. Further, subsection (2) also provides that the promise cannot, among other things, be canceled or terminated without the consent of the lessor.
Sections 1-103, 1-203, 2A-103(1)(g), 2A-103(1)(j), 2A-103(4), 2A-104, 2A-209, 2A-209(1), 2A-210, 2A-211(1), 2A-212(1), 2A-213, 2A-517(1)(b), and 9-403 through 9-406.
Definitional Cross References:
"Cancellation". Section 2A-103(1)(b).
"Consumer lease". Section 2A-103(1)(e).
"Finance lease". Section 2A-103(1)(g).
"Goods". Section 2A-103(1)(h).
"Lease contract". Section 2A-103(1)(l).
"Lessee". Section 2A-103(1)(n).
"Party". Section 1-201(29).
"Termination". Section 2A-103(1)(z).