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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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2 The scope of the CISG

Clayton P. Gillette


The theoretical advantages of uniform international commercial law in reducing the costs of selecting applicable law for an international transaction are contingent on two variables. First, the content of the uniform law must be relatively ascertainable by the parties. That is, it must be accessible and its provisions must be clear. Whether the substantive provisions of the CISG satisfy that objective is an issue that will occupy us throughout this book. Second, the scope of its application must similarly be clear so that parties are aware of when the uniform rules apply in lieu of domestic sales law. In this chapter, we consider the second question – the certainty of the CISG’s application.

How well does the CISG do in signifying the scope of its application? Here the answer is a bit mixed. The question itself must be divided into two parts. First, to what kinds of transactions does the CISG apply? That is, what is the transactional scope of the CISG? Second, when confronted with such a transaction, under what circumstances is a court or tribunal obligated to apply the CISG rather than domestic sales law? That is, what is the geographical scope of the CISG? We take these up in reverse order.

The fact that the CISG relates to the “international sale of goods” raises an immediate question. What is the measure of internationality? Must goods cross a border? Must the parties to the contract be from different jurisdictions? Article 1 provides a relatively clear...

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