In Defence of the CISG

Christopher Kee, Edgardo Munoz


In this article, the authors respond to certain criticisms made against the 1980 Vienna Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (the ‘CISG’) and explain what they perceive as the shortcomings of, and impediments to, a particular model of a proposed new global code. A goal of both the CISG and the proposed global code is to create an environment which promotes international trade. Predictability in the law is a fundamental element to achieve such an environment. The CISG has been criticised as failing to provide such predictability. It has been suggested that it has not been uniformly interpreted, contains internal inconsistencies and allows countries to establish varying mini-codes. While there may be some merit in some of these criticisms there is also much that is overstated and wrong. The CISG may not be a perfect instrument. However, it has been widely accepted and that alone makes it a strong basis from which to develop. A global code applied with absolute uniformity throughout the world might provide predictability. However, such a uniform law is unrealistic and, in any event, undesirable. The authors propose a more realistic solution. The law should be the framework upon which individually nuanced contracts could be built. Predictability is obtained by developing and establishing avenues of communication. It is also obtained by developing and establishing means of explaining and understanding the concepts upon which the framework has been built. The CISG allows for all of this.

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