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Australia 12 March 1992, Appellate Court New South Wales (Renard Constructions v. Minister for Public Works)
[Cite as: http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/920312a2.html]

Primary source(s) for case presentation: Case text

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Case identification

DATE OF DECISION: 19920312 (12 March 1992)


TRIBUNAL: Court of Appeal, New South Wales

JUDGE(S): Priestly, Meagher, Handley


CASE NAME: Renard Constructions v. Minister for Public Works

CASE HISTORY: Unavailable

SELLER'S COUNTRY: Australia (plaintiff)

BUYER'S COUNTRY: Australia (defendant)

GOODS INVOLVED: Construction contract (pumping station)

Classification of issues present

APPLICATION OF CISG: No [obiter dicta reference to CISG]


Key CISG provisions at issue: Article 7(1)

Classification of issues using UNCITRAL classification code numbers:

7A3 [Observance of good faith]

Descriptors: General principles ; Good faith

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Editorial remarks

EDITOR: Lisa Spagnolo

Excerpt from analysis of Australian case law on the CISG. Reproduced with permission of 10 Melbourne Journal of International Law (2009) 169-170

Renard Constructions (ME) Pty Ltd v Minister for Public Works [145]

[This is] the first mention of the CISG [in Australia]. [It] came in a widely discussed decision in the New South Wales Court of Appeal. The case came before the Court on appeal from an [page 169] arbitral award on a question of law, in a dispute that centred on a 'show cause' notice and subsequent termination of the contract.

Priestley J concluded that 'reasonableness in performance' was implied in the contract concerned.[146] His Honour then likened this to notions of good faith in Europe and the US, and noted that, although such a concept was not yet fully accepted in Australia 'the time may be fast approaching'.[147] In the 16 years since those words, Australia has indeed moved down the path of an implied duty of good faith in performance, and although the issue has not yet been settled in the High Court,[148] the Australian position now seems closer to the US view than that in the UK, at least for commercial contracts.[149]

However, at the time, this was still groundbreaking territory for Australia. Therefore Priestley JA makes extensive use of scholarship, cases and statutes from a number of jurisdictions, the UNCITRAL Model Law on Arbitration,[150] and various provisions such as s 51A of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth),[151] and art 7(1) of the CISG.[152] Thus the CISG was not directly relevant.[153] Nonetheless, it signalled a promising level of judicial cognisance of the CISG in Australia, and was overwhelmingly and widely hailed as such in international circles.[154] [page 170]

145. (1992) 26 NSWLR 234 ('Renard'). Also reported internationally at: Pace Law School, <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/920312a2.html>; available from CISG-online, Search for Cases (Case No 44) <http://www.globalsaleslaw.org/index.cfm?pageID=29>; available from UNILEX, <http://www.unilex.info>.

146. Renard (1992) 26 NSWLR 234, 263 (Priestley JA).

147. Ibid 263-4.

148. The High Court majority left the matter open in Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust v South Sydney City Council (2002) 186 ALR 289, 301, 327.

149. See, eg, Alcatel Australia Ltd v Scarcella & Ors (1998) 44 NSWLR 349, 368-9; Garry Rogers Motors (Aust) Pty Ltd v Subaru (Aust) Pty Ltd (1999) ATPR 41-703, 43-014; Burger King Corp v Hungry Jack's Pty Ltd (2001) 69 NSWLR 558, 568; Overlook Management BV v Foxtel Management Pty Ltd [2002] NSWSC 17, [62]; Pacific Brands Sport and Leisure Pty Ltd v Underworks Pty Ltd [2005] FCA 288 (Unreported, Finkelstein J, 22 March 2005). Contra, eg, Service Station Association Ltd v Berg Bennett and Associates Pty Ltd (1993) 117 ALR 393, 406 (Gummow J).

150. UNCITRAL, UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (1985); see also International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth) s 16 (recognising the Model Law as having the force of law in Australia). The laws governing arbitration in Australia are currently under review.

151. Renard (1992) 26 NSWLR 234, 268.

152. Ibid 264.

153. Ibid.

154. E Allan Farnsworth, 'The Concept of "Good Faith" in American Law' (Speech delivered at the Centre for Comparative and Foreign Law Studies, Rome, Italy, April 1993) <http://servizi.iit.cnr.it/~crdcs/crdcs/farnswrt.htm> (praising Priestley J's 'wide-ranging scholarship' as an example that should inspire 'reciprocal curiosity' from common lawyers everywhere); Schlechtriem, 'Art 7', above n 52, 104 (fn 50); Honnold, Uniform Law for International Sales, above n 71, 101; Dianne Madeline Goderre, 'International Negotiations Gone Sour: Precontractual Liability under the United Nations Sales Convention' (1997) 66 University of Cincinnati Law Review 257, 276 (fn 145-8); Peter Jones, 'Reasonableness, Honesty and Good Faith' (1995) International Sales Quarterly 8, 8-9; Ferrari, 'Applicability and Application', above n 20, 148 (fn 90), 165 (fn 264); Phanesh Koneru, 'The International Interpretation of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods: An Approach Based on General Principles' (1997) 6 Minnesota Journal of Global Trade 105, 141 (fn 157) (arguing that the 'role of good faith in international trade is evolving and moving towards an international concept'); Paul J Powers, 'Defining the Undefinable: Good Faith and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods' (1999) 18 Journal of Law and Commerce 333, 341 (fn 52), 347 (fn 101-2); Bruno Zeller, 'The UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) - A Leap Forward towards Unified International Sales Laws' (2000) 12 Pace International Law Review 79, 100 (fn 92); Bruno Zeller, 'Good Faith - The Scarlet Pimpernel of the CISG' (Essay, Pace Law School, May 2000) pts 1(i), 2(i) <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cisg/biblio/zeller2.html>; Jacobs, Cutbush-Sabine and Bambagiotti, above n 4, [9.6] (fn 36).

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Citations to case abstracts, texts, and commentaries


(a) UNCITRAL abstract: Unavailable

(b) Other abstracts

English: Unilex database <http://www.unilex.info/case.cfm?pid=1&do=case&id=57&step=Abstract>

Italian: Diritto del Commercio Internazionale (1995) 443 No. 58


Original language (English): 26 New South Wales LR (1992) 234-283 at 264; Lexis: COMCAS library, ENGCAS file; Unilex database (excerpt) <http://www.unilex.info/case.cfm?pid=1&do=case&id=57&step=FullText>

Translation: Unavailable


English: Honnold, Uniform Law for International Sales (1999) 101 [Art. 7 (good faith)]; Farnsworth, The concept of "good faith" in American law, Rome (1993) "http://www.cnr.it/CRDS/Farnswrt.htm"; Goderre, 66 U. Cincinnati Law Rev. (1997) 276; Jones, Reasonableness, Honesty and Good Faith, International Sales Quarterly (March 1995) 8-10 [available on the Internet courtesy of CENTRAL Transnational Law Database (TLDB)]; Koneru, 6 Minnesota Journal of International Trade (1997) 105 [141 n.157]; Powers, 18 Journal of Law and Commerce (1999) 341 n.52, 347 n.101; Zeller, Leap forward towards unified international sales (May 2000) n.92; Zeller, Good Faith - The Scarlet Pimpernel of the CISG (May 2000); [2005] Schlechtriem & Schwenzer ed., Commentary on UN Convention on International Sale of Goods, 2d (English) ed., Oxford University Press, Art. 7 para. 30

German: Keinath, Der gute Glauben in UN-Kaufrecht [Good Faith under CISG], Thesis Konstanz (Hartung-Gorre 1997) 241-244

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Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated September 10, 2009
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