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Cover of: Gegenwart und Zukunft des Einheitskaufrechts
Ulrich G. Schroeter

Gegenwart und Zukunft des Einheitskaufrechts

Section: Focus
Volume 81 (2017) / Issue 1, pp. 32-76 (45)
Published 09.07.2018
DOI 10.1628/003372516X14817241954953
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  • 10.1628/003372516X14817241954953
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Uniform sales law forms a part of uniform private law that comprises a number of Conventions unifying either conflict-of-laws rules for sales or substantive sales law. The Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to International Sales of Goods (1955) and the Hague Uniform Sales Laws of 1964 achieved a certain legal uniformity for international sales contracts, but both were ratified by only a few Western European States. The UN (Vienna) Sales Convention of 1980 (CISG) has, in turn, developed into one of the greatest successes of uniform law-making in private law. The currently more than 80 Contracting States are proof of the fact that the CISG has been accepted by the global community of States. Its Contracting States include most major international trading nations and at the same time countries from all regions of the world. In the upcoming years, the Sales Convention's ratification by further developing States should be actively encouraged. By contrast, the extent to which the CISG has been accepted in commercial practice is very difficult to assess empirically. Much is to be said for the assumption that its contractual exclusion is significantly less common than sometimes alleged, given that the courts require a clearly expressed intention to exclude and that any exclusion needs to be agreed upon by both parties, which is often not the case. The assessment of the Sales Convention's practical importance is further complicated by its frequent application by arbitral tribunals, because the resulting arbitral awards usually remain confidential and thus inaccessible. In the future, the quest for a uniform interpretation of the Sales Convention is likely to be the most important challenge. Article 7(1) CISG provides some guidance by imposing three interpretative goals that in practice have mostly been observed. They have resulted in a generally uniform interpretation, although limited areas of non-uniformity exist. A general challenge arises from sales contracts' nature as everyday contracts in international trade, resulting in the uniform sales law's frequent application by non-specialised lawyers. It is therefore necessary to enable and assist a uniform interpretation through appropriate organisational arrangements, with a cross-border cooperation among specialised academics as the most suitable solution, designed to evaluate and assess international CISG case law and make it available to uniform law users in every country. The Sales Convention has furthermore contributed to legal uniformity through its use as a model for other international Conventions as well as for domestic and regional law reforms. By contrast, a future revision of the Convention's text seems neither desirable nor realistic, with its further development best being left to courts and legal academia. Finally, the increasing number of uniform law acts for international sales calls for a better coordination between the various law-making organisations. In particular, regional uniform law (notably EU law) should respect the existing uniform sales law by explicitly granting priority to the CISG.