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Reproduced with the permission of Oceana Publications

excerpt from

INTERNATIONAL SALES LAW

United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods

Commentary by
Prof. Dr. jur. Dr. sc. oec. Fritz Enderlein
Prof. Dr. jur. Dr. sc. oec. Dietrich Maskow

Oceana Publications, 1992

Article 20 [Time fixed for acceptance]

[TEXT OF THE UNIFORM LAW]

(1) A period of time for acceptance [1] fixed by the offeror in a telegram or a letter begins to run [2] from the moment the telegram is handed in for dispatch or from the date shown on the letter, or if no such date is shown, from the date shown on the envelope. A period of time for acceptance fixed by the offeror by telephone, telex or other means of instantaneous communication, begins to run from the moment that the offer reaches [3] the offeree.

(2) Official holidays or non-business days occurring during the period for acceptance are included in calculating [4] the period. However, if a notice of acceptance cannot be delivered at the address of the offeror on the last day of the period because that day falls on an official holiday or a non-business day at the place [5] of business of the offeror, the period is extended until the first business day [6] which follows.

[WORDS AND PHRASES, COMMENTS

1. commencement of period of time for acceptance
2. different provisions for commencement of the period of time
3. - period of time fixed by telephone, telex
4. - effect of official holiday or non-business day
5. consideration only given to official holiday or non-business day at place of offeror, except
6. first business day which follows

[COMMENTARY]

[1] [commencement of period of time for acceptance]

Only if the period for acceptance is not calculated by the offeror according to the calendar (e.g. offer valid until April 30) but in days or weeks, in special cases also in hours, there is the question of when that period begins. The objective of this rule is for the two parties to find identical bases for the calculation of that period. Since the moment of dispatch is generally easier to prove than the moment of receipt, the CISG chooses the moment of dispatch as the beginning of the period for acceptance (Farnsworth/BB, 186).

[2] [different provisions for commencement of the period of time]

There are different provisions in Article 20 regarding the commencement of the period for acceptance depending on which way was chosen to communicate the offer. The date contained in the letter and the date of the actual dispatch need not be identical. These dates provide, however, a basis for an identical calculation of the period because the sender has a copy and the addressee probably discards the envelope (Farnsworth/BB, 186). If the letter does not have a date, the date of the stamp will count; the handing in of the letter at the post office thus being decisive just as in the case of a telegram. Periods for acceptance fixed by telephone or telex begin to run with the moment of receipt (c. Article 24).

Article 20 is a rule of interpretation. The offeror might also prescribe something different, e.g. he may fix a time of ten days to begin upon receipt of the offer (Honnold, 197 fol; Farnsworth/BB, 187). In case the offeror has not set a time limit so that one can proceed on a reasonable time (c. Article 18); there will be no question as to when the period for acceptance begins to run but rather when it ends.

[3] [ period of time fixed by telephone, telex ]

Insofar as the addressee himself has a telephone or telex, and the communication does not need to be transmitted through third persons, the moments of receipt and dispatch are practically identical.

[4] [effect of official holiday or non-business day]

In other words, when calculating the number of days of the period it is ignored whether they are holidays, non-business days or business days if the delivery of the acceptance is not impeded (c. note 6). [page 102]

[5] [consideration only given to holiday or non-business day at place of offeror, except ]

Only holidays or non-business days at the place of business of the offeror are being taken into consideration because those may not be known to the offeree. If, however, the last day of the period falls on a holiday at the place of business of the offeree and the offeree is prevented from dispatching an acceptance, he has to take this into account and hand m his acceptance for dispatch earlier.

[6] [first business day which follows]

The offeror will not be able to make different arrangements on the last business day of the period, but rather has to wait until the next business day. He has to consider that the offeree will fully exhaust the period (Schlechtriem, 42). [page 103]

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Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated August 7, 2002
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