The UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)
The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) is a multilateral treaty that establishes a uniform legal regime for contracts for the cross-border sale of goods. Such sales contracts operate as the backbone of international trade, and uniform rules for sales contracts provide traders with an efficient, modern and comprehensive legal framework to support their commercial activities. Its uniform rules, specifically designed to meet the needs of cross border commerce, increase certainty in commercial transactions and decrease their costs. The CISG thus supports sustainable economic development in general, and because risks and costs are disproportionately felt by small and medium-sized enterprises, is of particular benefit in promoting cross-border commercial activities on their part.
The CISG has been adopted by 94 States from all legal traditions and levels of economic development and that together represent over two-thirds of the global economy. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is organising a series of awareness-raising events and technical assistance activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the CISG in 2020 (“CISG@40”). The CISG@40 activities pursue several goals. One of them is to identify potential new States parties to the CISG, to support and promote the treaty adoption process, namely to accelerate the achievement of the symbolic number of 100 States parties, and to broaden CISG coverage by supporting the withdrawal of declarations and the territorial extensions for existing States parties. Secondly, as regards use in practice, the challenge is to raise awareness of the CISG’s benefits in the commercial environment and among the judiciary on its uniform interpretation. One important component of this line of activity is broadening and deepening contributors’ commitment to the Case law on UNCITRAL Texts (“CLOUT”) system and to involve new partners in the CLOUT network. In this framework, the publication in 2020 of a Guide on International Commercial Contracts (with a focus on sales) (prepared jointly by UNCITRAL, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit) and the Hague Conference on Private International Law) stands out. Additional topics relevant for CISG@40 include the use of the CISG as a model for national law reform, the broader adoption and use of closely-related treaties such as the Limitation Convention and the Electronic Communications Convention, and matters relating to the use of the CISG in the digital economy such as the relationship between the CISG and smart contracts.
- In the most recent episode of Café Comparatum, the podcast of the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL), IACL Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Alexandre Senegacnik had a special discussion with the IACL Secretary General Prof. Diego P Fernández Arroyo and Prof. Alejandro Garro (Columbia Law School) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). Professor Garro is a member of the CISG-Advisory Council. Listen to the episode here.
- On 22 September 2020, the UNCITRAL secretariat participated in the conference hosted by UNIDROIT Secretariat on the contribution of HCCH, UNCITRAL and UNIDROIT to the harmonisation of the law of international sales, and the Tripartite Legal Guide to Uniform Legal Instruments in the Area of International Commercial Contracts (with a focus on sales). Read more about the event here. View the opening address and the three panels from the event here.
- Recently Monash University held the webinar, To Boldly Go: Data as the CISG's Next (But Probably Not Final) Frontier. In the webinar Dr. Benjamin Hayward, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Business law and Taxation at Monash Business School discussed the suitabiltiy of the CISG framework to electronic data trade, an increasingly important area of economic activity. The webinar can be viewed here.
- CLOUT Issue 205 is now available in all six official UN languages. It can be accessed here. This issue covers decisions on the CISG and the Limitation Convention, including cases from the Austrian, Czech and French Supreme Courts and a guiding opinion of the Chinese Supreme People’s Court on proper adjudication of civil cases involving the COVID-19 pandemic. Many thanks to Christian Rauscher, Veronika Kubíková, Petr Bříza, Natálie Tůmová, Claude Witz, Ulrich Magnus, Anjanette Raymond and Aybek Akhmedov for their abstracts.
- Portugal has acceded the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). Portugal is the ninety-fourth State Party to the Convention and it will enter into force for Portugal on 1 October 2021. Read the press release here.
- Professor María del Pilar Perales Viscasillas, a CLOUT national correspondant, recently wrote a summary of the recent Spanish Supreme Court case, INTRAVAL v. ECOM. It will appear in a forthcoming issue of CLOUT, where it will be available in the six official UN languages. You can read the summary of the case here (Spanish only).The litigation involved a Spanish company (seller) and a German company (buyer) who entered into a contract for a piece of equipment, which was to be installed in a waste treatement plant in the United Kingdom. Contractual obligations included the manufacture of the unit and assistance for its installation. The parties agreed that Barcelona courts would have jurisdiction, but did not specify the law applicable to the contract. The case discussed or implicated Articles 1.1(a), 3, 7, 38, 39 and 49 of the CISG. The CLOUT database contains nearly 1,000 cases interpretating the CISG.
- The UNCITRAL Law Library recently added "La convention de Vienne en Amérique: 40e anniversaire de la Convention des Nations Unies sur les contrats de vente internationale de marchandises" to its collection. The book is the Latin America section of the Comparative Law Society's contribution to the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the CISG. It presents the current state of the application of the CISG in various American countries and measures the influence of the CISG on the sale of goods. You can view the record for the book in the library catalogue or read more about the book here.
- The Jamaica International Arbitration Centre (JIAC) recently held the event, "Dispute Management in a New World", as a part of its Arbitration Week celebrations. The event celebrated CISG@40 with the panel "Force Majeure under the CISG". A recording of the session is now available for viewing here.
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The authoritative status of the CISG is available in the United Nations Treaty Collection.
The Case Law on UNCITRAL Texts (CLOUT) system contains about 1000 cases on the CISG and related texts. They are available in the CLOUT database. Moreover, the UNCITRAL Digest of Case Law on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods presents judicial and arbitral decisions in a clear, consolidated and comprehensive manner.
The UNCITRAL Library Online Catalogue contains more than 1000 citations of books, articles and other materials discussing the CISG and related texts. Materials available online include the publication “Thirty-five Years of Uniform Sales Law: Trends and Perspectives, Proceedings of the High-Level Panel held during the Forty-eighth Session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Vienna, 6 July 2015”.
UNCITRAL has prepared other texts in the field of international sales of goods and related transactions. Among them, the Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods (New York, 1974) and the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (New York, 2005) are particularly significant.
Upcoming CISG@40 Events
15 October - 29 October 2020
26 October 2020
Hong Kong, PRC
2-3 November 2021
Call for Papers
Buenos Aires, Argentina
16 November 2020