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Published in J. Herbots editor / R. Blanpain general editor, International
Encyclopaedia of Laws - Contracts, Suppl. 29 (December 2000) 1-192. Reproduced with permission of the publisher Kluwer Law International, The Hague.
[For more current case annotated texts by this author, see Bernstein & Lookofsky, Understanding the CISG in Europe, 2d ed. (2003) and Lookofsky, Understanding the CISG in the USA, 2d ed. (2004).]
The 1980 United Nations Convention on Contracts
for the International Sale of Goods
Delay or Error in Transmission
139. Article 27 of the Convention deals with delays or errors in transmission:
'Unless otherwise expressly provided in this Part [III] of the Convention, if any
notice, request or other communication is given or made by a party in accordance
with this Part and by means appropriate in the circumstances, a delay or error in the
transmission of the communication or its failure to arrive does not deprive that party
of the right to rely on the communication.'
Assuming that a given communication is made in accordance with Part III of the
Convention and by means 'appropriate in the circumstances', such communication is
generally effective 'upon dispatch'. Thus, as a general Part III rule, and in contrast with
the rules applicable to certain communications in Part II, Article 27 places the risk of
delay or error in transmission upon the addressee. If, for example, the buyer sends a
notice advising the seller that the goods delivered are defective, but that notice is lost
during transmission, the buyer retains his rights to remedial relief. There are, however, a
number of exceptions to this general Part III rule. If a seller refuses to accept a buyer's
(rightful) avoidance declaration, the buyer may be entitled to revoke it.
1. Regarding Article 18(2), see supra No. 114.
2. See Article 39 (infra No. 189 et seq.) and, e.g., Honnold, J. Uniform Law for International Sales, (3rd ed. 1999) at pp. 216-217 [available at <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/cisg/biblio/honnold.html>].
3. Regarding Article 47(2), see infra No. 219 with accompanying note; regarding Article 48(4),
see infra No. 223 with accompanying note; regarding Article 63(2), see infra No. 258 with
accompanying note; regarding Article 65(1)-(2), see infra No. 264 with accompanying note;
regarding Article 79(4), see infra No. 306.
4. See Schlechtriem, Commentary (1998) p. 197 and Huber in Schlechtriem, id. at 365. The question of whether a declaration of avoidance is binding upon the declaring party is a matter
'governed but not settled' by the Convention, and Schlechtriem (id.) persuasively uses the
general estoppel prinple (supra No. 79 at n. 12) to settle it. [page 80]
Pace Law School
Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated April 1, 2005
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