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CISG CASE PRESENTATION

France 13 February 2007 Supreme Court (Computer motherboard case) [translation available]
[Cite as: http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/070213f1.html]

Primary source(s) of information for case presentation: Case text

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Case identification

DATE OF DECISION: 20070213 (13 February 2007)

JURISDICTION: France

TRIBUNAL: Cour de cassation [Supreme Court]

JUDGE(S): Unavailable

CASE NUMBER/DOCKET NUMBER: Appeal No. U 05-13.538; Judgement No. 283 F-D

CASE NAME: Société S...v. S.A DIG...

CASE HISTORY: 1st instance Tribunal de commerce de Bobigny 11 September 2003 [reversed]; 2d instance Cour d’appel de Paris 25 February 2005 [reversed and remanded]; 4th instance Cour d’appel de Paris 7 October 2009

SELLER'S COUNTRY: United States (defendant)

BUYER'S COUNTRY: France (plaintiff)

GOODS INVOLVED: Computer motherboards


Case abstract

FRANCE: Cour de cassation 13 February 2007

Case law on UNCITRAL texts [A/CN./SER.C/ABSTRACTS/82],
CLOUT abstract no. 836

Reproduced with permission of UNCITRAL

Abstract prepared by Claude Witz, National Correspondent, and Mathieu Richard

The case concerned a French buyer, the company D, and an American seller company S, and related to computer components supplied between May 1997 and December 1998 that had turned out to be defective. In February 1999, the buyer retained the services of an expert and the Bobigny Commercial Court ordered the seller to pay the buyer damages. The Paris Appeal Court set aside that decision in its judgement of 25 February 2005, ruling that the buyer's claims were inadmissible, in view of the time limitation clauses on the guarantee and exemption from responsibility, and that the clauses were valid under CISG.

The Court of Cassation annulled this ruling, since it was in breach of CISG article 4. The Court recalled that CISG governed only the formulation of a sales contract and the rights and obligations of the seller and the buyer arising out of such a contract; CISG was not concerned with the validity of a contract or of any of its provisions.

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Classification of issues present

APPLICATION OF CISG: Yes

APPLICABLE CISG PROVISIONS AND ISSUES

Key CISG provisions at issue: Articles 4 ; 40

Classification of issues using UNCITRAL classification code numbers:

4B1 [Scope of Convention (issues excluded): validity under domestic law]

Descriptors: Scope of Convention ; Validity ; Exculpatory clauses

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Editorial remarks

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Citations to other abstracts, case texts and commentaries

CITATIONS TO OTHER ABSTRACTS OF DECISION

English: Unilex database <http://www.unilex.info/case.cfm?pid=1&do=case&id=1372&step=Abstract>

CITATIONS TO TEXT OF DECISION

Original language (French): CISG-France database <http://www.cisg-france.org/decisions/130207.htm>; Légifrance: <http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr>; Unilex database <http://www.unilex.info/case.cfm?pid=1&do=case&id=1372&step=FullText>

Translation (English): Text presented below

CITATIONS TO COMMENTS ON DECISION

Unavailable

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Case text (English translation) [second draft]

Court of Cassation - Commercial Chamber

Société DIG [Buyer] v. Société Sup [Seller]

13 February 2007

On the first argument of the second ground of appeal, and pursuant to article 4 of the Vienna Convention of 11 April 1980 on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, the Commercial Chamber of the Court of cassation ruled as follows:

The contested judgment established that the [Buyer], a [company] registered in France, purchased computer components from [the Seller], [a company] registered in the United States. These components were delivered between May 1997 and December 1998. The [Buyer] contended that these products were faulty and secured the appointment of a legal expert [1] on 16 February 1999. On 11 September 2003, the [court] found the [Seller] to be liable in damages. The decision was overruled by the Court of Appeal, which dismissed the [Buyer]'s claims.

In order to dismiss the [Buyer]'s claims regarding both the contractual terms reducing the warranty's length and the exclusion/exemption clauses, the Court of Appeal held that under the Vienna Convention such clauses are valid between non-consumers. This is not adequately contested by the [Buyer], which merely relies on French case-law and legal provisions.

In so ruling, the Court of Appeal misapplied the aforementioned provision. [Indeed] the Vienna Convention governs exclusively both the formation of the contract for sale and the rights and obligations between seller and buyer which arise from such a contract but does not deal with the validity of the contract nor of any of its terms.

For these reasons, and without there being any need to rule on the other grounds of appeal, the Court quashes and annuls the decision of the Court of Appeal of Paris of 25 February 2005.

The Court returns both the matter and the parties to their respective positions prior to the aforementioned judgment and sends them back before the Court of Appeal of Paris, to sit with different judges.

The [Seller] is ordered to pay costs.

[The Court orders the] Procureur Géneral [2] of the Court of cassation to see to the transcription of this judgment in the margins of or immediately after [the official transcript] of the quashed decision.

Judgment of the Commercial Chamber of the Court of cassation delivered by the President in its public hearing of 13 February 2007.


FOOTNOTES

* All translations should be verified by cross-checking against the original text.

1. A judicial expert is appointed to advise the Court on technical matters.

2. "Parquet Général": the procureur général heads the body of magistrates representing the State in the Court of cassation.

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Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated December 21, 2009
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