In a world of countless legal abbreviations, one more is being added in our jargon. CISG-AC stands for Advisory Council of the United Nations Conventions on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). This is an unusual Convention and this is an unusual Council.
Knowingly the CISG is one of the most successful international instruments which produce uniform substantive rules for international trade. It is often pointed out that, world-wide two thirds of international sale transactions are conducted between parties based in a CISG country. In addition more than 1,500 judicial and arbitral decisions have been identified and are now featured in the relevant databases, such as <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu>. In this sense, CISG is a successful and mature text of protean nature, which has been supported and enhanced by legal practice over the last 15 years. Most recently, UNCITRAL, the CISG formulating agency, has completed a digest which provides a comprehensive presentation of case law on the CISG and aims at assisting courts in the application of the Convention.
The CISG-AC has been established in 2001 as a private initiative to respond to the emerging need to address some controversial, unresolved issues relating to the CISG which would merit interpretative guidance. Professor Albert Kritzer, Executive Secretary of the Institute of International Commercial Law, Pace University School of Law, has been the spiritus rector of the idea of an interpretative council, an idea which has been mooted reluctantly in meetings of international organisations before. In a meeting in Paris in June 2001 some of the most eminent scholars in CISG gathered to explore the possibility of creating a CISG interpretative council.
The idea received warm support and the founding members of the CISG-AC are Professor Dr. Eric E. Bergsten, Emeritus of Pace University, formerly Secretary General of UNCITRAL, Professor Dr. Michael Joachim Bonell, University of Rome La Sapienza, formerly Secretary General of UNIDROIT, Professor E. Allan Farnsworth, Columbia University, New York, Professor Dr. Alejandro Garro, Columbia University, Professor Sir Roy Goode, University of Oxford, Professor Dr. Sergei N. Lebedev, Moscow Institute of International Relations, Professor Dr. Jan Ramberg, Emeritus, Stockholm University, Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Peter Schlechtriem, Emeritus, University of Freiburg, Professor Hiroo Sono, Hokkaido University and Professor Dr. Claude Witz, Universität des Saarlandes and Université Robert Schuman, Strasbourg. The meeting was also attended by Albert Kritzer, Pace, and Dr. Loukas Mistelis, Clive M. Schmitthoff Senior Lecturer in International Commercial Law, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary, University of London who represented the two sponsoring institutions. Professor Schlechtriem was elected as the first Chair, and Dr. Mistelis as the Secretary of CISG-AC. Professor Jan Ramberg has since been elected as the second Chair of the CISG-AC. Three more members were invited to join the Council in 2003 and 2004, Professor Dr. Mª del Pilar Perales Viscasillas, Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, Professsor Dr. Ingeborg Schwenzer, University of Basel, and Professor John Y. Gotanda, Villanova University.
The CISG-AC is a private initiative which aims at promoting a uniform interpretation of the CISG. It is a private initiative in the sense that its members do not represent countries or legal cultures, but they are scholars who look beyond the cooking pot for ideas and for a more profound understanding of issues relating to CISG. Accordingly the group is afforded the luxury of being critical of judicial or arbitral decision and of addressing issues not dealt with previously by adjudicating bodies. The Council is guided by the mandate of Article 7 of the Convention as far its interpretation and application are concerned: the paramount regard to international character of the Convention and the need to promote uniformity.
In practical terms, the primary purpose of the CISG-AC is to issue opinions relating to the interpretation and application of the Convention on request or on its own initiative. Requests may be submitted to the CISG-AC, in particular, by international organizations, professional associations and adjudication bodies.
Additional opinions will be completed in the next months. They are on exemption from liability for economic hardship, and damages.
The CISG-AC wishes to publicise all its opinions widely through printed and electronic media and welcomes comments the readership may have. The preferred citation style is:
1. Loukas A Mistelis, LLB, MLE, Dr. iuris, MCIArb, Advocate, is the Clive M Schmitthoff Reader in International Commercial Law at the Centre for Commercial Studies, Queen Mary, University of London. He acts as Secretary of the CISG-AC. He may be contacted at <L.Mistelis@qmul.ac.uk>.