A. Introduction

This section of the SiLS Moot Academy Essentials Course will teach you basic knowledge of the CISG, the substantive law applicable in the Willem C. Vis Moot. It will start out by addressing specific aspects of the CISG and over time grow into a comprehensive overview over the relevant matters covered by the CISG.

The 1980 United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods is an international treaty dealing with international sales contracts. After years of discussions and early drafts in 1980 a diplomatic conference with 62 participating states was held in Vienna in order to prepare the final text of the CISG. The CISG entered into force on 1.1.1988 after ratification of the required ten states.

Today the CISG is one of the most successful international conventions with currently 83 member states. Among them are almost all important trade nations world wide with the notable exceptions of the United Kingdom, India and Hong Kong[1]. Consequently, the CISG potentially covers up to 80% of global trade.


I. Unification of Sales Law

The CISG is a unification of substantive sales law. It directly regulates the matters within its sphere of application. Consequently, once the CISG is applicable, the application of domestic law is barred insofar as the matters in question are dealt with in the CISG.


 II. Content of the CISG

The CISG is not an exhaustive self-sufficient legal system. It only deals with certain questions relevant for sales contracts. But the CISG not only contains specific provisions for sales contracts but also deals with questions of general contract law. For questions not answered by the CISG one has to take recourse to un-unified domestic law.

The CISG starts out in Part I (Art. 1-13) by determining its sphere of application and the standards of interpretation of the Convention itself and statements by parties. Part II (Art. 14-24) deals with the formation of contracts. Part III (Art. 25-88) contains the provisions regulating the specific legal relationship between seller and buyer. In Part IV (Art. 89-101) public international law matters are addressed in the final provisions.

[1] Application of the CISG with regard to Hong Kong is disputed among legal scholars since it is part of China which in turn has ratified the CISG.

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Last modified: Thursday, 22 October 2015, 4:31 PM