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Advanced Introduction to International Sales Law

Clayton P. Gillette

Providing a concise overview of the basic doctrines underlying the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG), Clayton Gillette explores their ambiguities and thus considers the extent to which uniform international commercial law is possible, as well as appraising the extent to which the doctrines in the UN Convention reflect those that commercial parties would prefer. With its compelling combination of doctrine and theory, this book makes an ideal companion for students and legal scholars alike.
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1 Why uniform international commercial law?

Clayton P. Gillette


This introductory volume considers the law and theory of international sales law, as embodied in the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, known as the CISG. The CISG purports to unify the legal principles that govern commercial sales across national boundaries and cultures. It is the most successful treaty on commercial law ever created, at least if international adoption is the measure of success. As of this writing, 83 nations – called Contracting States – have agreed to be bound by the CISG. Prior efforts to create a body of international commercial law received far less approval. Indeed, the CISG may have effects even outside jurisdictions that have adopted it, because tribunals in those jurisdictions may apply conflict of law rules that select the law of a CISG jurisdiction in a particular litigation or arbitration.

Why has the CISG attracted so much support? It is tempting to identify its widespread adoption with a conclusion that the CISG has successfully satisfied the objectives that underlie commercial law. The legal rules that govern sales transactions play multiple functions. First, they provide rules of validation that inform the parties when they have entered a legally binding relationship, or contract. Second, they create interpretive rules that determine what is meant by the language that is used in the contract, and perhaps in the language of the rules themselves. Third, legal rules allocate the losses that arise from risks that might materialize during the operation of the contract; that is,...

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