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Article 44. Excuse for Failure to Notify

TEXT OF ARTICLE 44

Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of article 39 and paragraph (1) of article 43, the buyer may reduce the price in accordance with article 50 or claim damages, except for loss of profit, if he has a reasonable excuse for his failure to give the required notice.


OUTLINE OF ISSUES

Reproduced with permission of UNCITRAL

44A Excuse for failure to notify pursuant to art. 39(1) & art. 43(1):

44A1 Remedies preserved: Reduction of the price (art. 50) and damages except loss of profit (see arts. 74-77)

44B Remedies not preserved: see articles 46, 48, 49 and 50


DESCRIPTORS

Excuse


CASE ANNOTATIONS: UNCITRAL DIGEST CASES PLUS ADDED CASES

UNCITRAL has identified relevant cases in Digests containing case annotations for each article of the CISG. UNCITRAL cites 16 cases in its Digest of Art. 44 case law:

Denmark       1           Italy      1           Russian Federation        1
Germany 7 Netherlands      1 Switzerland        2
ICC      3 TOTAL:   16

Presented below is a composite list of Art. 44 cases reporting UNCITRAL Digest cases and other Art. 44 cases. All cases are listed in chronological sequence, commencing with the most recent. Asterisks identify the UNCITRAL Digest cases, commencing with the 31 January 2002 citation reported below. Cases are coded to the UNCITRAL Thesaurus.

English texts and full-text English translations of cases are provided as indicated. In most instances researchers can also access UNCITRAL abstracts and link to Unilex abstracts and full-text original-language case texts sourced from Internet websites and other data, including commentaries by scholars to the extent available.

For a recent review of Article 44 jurisprudence, see Anselmo Martinez Cañellas, "The Scope of Article 44 CISG", 25 Journal of Law and Commerce (2005-2006) 261-271; see also Sonja A. Kruisinga, "(Non-)conformity in the 1980 UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods: a uniform concept?", Intersentia (2004) 117-121.
 

Netherlands 16 January 2009 Rechtsbank [District Court] Breda (Watermelon case) [translation available]
 

Australia 24 October 2008 Federal Court [South Australia District] (Hannaford v Australian Farmlink Pty Ltd)

Belgium 11 June 2008 Hof von beroep [Appellate Court] Ghent (NV Brux-Attout v. SA Chismatex)
 

Austria 24 September 2007 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Linz (Laminated glass case) [translation available]

Germany 17 January 2007 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Saarbrücken (Marble panel case) 44A [translation available]

Spain 17 January 2008 Tribunal Suprema [Supreme Court] (Used automobiles case) 44A [translation available]
 

Netherlands 18 July 2006 Gerechtshof [Appellate Court] Arnhem (Potting soil case) [translation available]

Russia 13 April 2006 Arbitration Award 105/2005 [translation available]

Austria 23 January 2006 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Linz (Auto case) [translation available]

Switzerland 20 January 2006 Cour de Justice [Appellate Court] Genève (Paper products case) [translation available]

Germany 11 January 2006 Bundesgerichtshof [Supreme Court] (Automobile case) 44A [translation available]
 

Germany 11 April 2005 Landgericht [District Court] Frankfurt 44A [translation available]
 

United States 9 September 2004 Federal District Court [State of Washington] (Delizia v. Columbia Distributing Company)

Germany 30 June 2004 Bundesgerichtshof [Supreme Court] [translation available]

Germany 10 March 2004 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Celle 44A [translation available]

Germany 2 February 2004 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Zweibrücken [translation available]
 

Germany 15 August 2003 Landgericht [District Court] Bielefeld (Strapping machine case) [translation available]

Switzerland 11 February 2003 Handelsgericht [Commercial Court] St. Gallen [translation available]
 

Italy 26 November 2002 Tribunale [District Court] Rimini [translation available]

France 13 November 2002 Cour d’appel [Appellate Court] Colmar [translation available]

Germany 13 November 2002 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München 44A

Austria 17 April 2002 Oberster Gerichtshof [Supreme Court] [7 Ob 54/02m] 44A [translation available]

* Denmark 31 January 2002 Sø og Handelsretten [Maritime Commercial Court] 44A [translation available]

Austria 14 January 2002 Oberster Gerichtshof [Supreme Court] [translation available]
 

United States 17 December 2001 U.S. District Court [Western Dist. Michigan] (Shuttle Packaging Systems v. Tsonakis) 44A
 

Germany 5 December 2000 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Oldenburg 44A [translation available]

* Italy 12 July 2000 Tribunale [District Court] Vigevano [translation available]

Germany 28 April 2000 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Oldenburg 44A [translation available]

Spain 27 March 2000 Audiencia Provincial [Appellate Court] Navarra

* Russia 24 January 2000 Arbitration award 54/1999 44A [translation available]
 

* ICC June 1999 International Court of Arbitration, Case 9187 44A [English text]

ICC March 1999 International Court of Arbitration, Case 9978

ICC February 1999 International Court of Arbitraton, Case 9474 44A [English text]
 

Switzerland 30 November 1998 Handelsgericht [Commercial Court] Zürich [translation available]

* Germany 25 November 1998 Bundesgerichtshof [Federal Supreme Court] [translation available]

Austria 15 October 1998 Oberster Gerichtshof [Supreme Court] 44A [translation available]

Switzerland 21 September 1998 Handelsgericht [Commercial Court] Zürich (Catalogue case) [translation available]

* Switzerland 16 September 1998 Bezirksgericht [District Court] Unterrheintal

* Germany 11 September 1998 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Koblenz 44A [translation available]

Germany 19 August 1998 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Bamberg

* Germany 26 May 1998 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Thüringer, Jena [translation available]

Austria 11 March 1998 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Graz (Timber case) 44A [translation available]

Germany 11 March 1998 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München 44A [translation available]

Netherlands 20 February 1998 Hoge Raad [Supreme Court]

Austria 12 February 1998 Oberster Gerichtshof [Supreme Court] [translation available]
 

* Netherlands 15 December 1997 Gerechtshof [Appellate Court] 's Hertogenbosch 44A

Germany 28 October 1997 Landgericht [District Court] Erfurt

Germany 15 October 1997 Landgericht [District Court] Hagen [translation available]

* Germany 9 July 1997 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München [7 U 2070/97] [translation available]

* Germany 25 June 1997 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Karlsruhe 44A [translation available]

Germany 23 June 1997 Landgericht [District Court] München

Netherlands 5 March 1997 Arrondissementsrechtbank [District Court] Zwolle

* ICC 23 January 1997 International Court of Arbitration, Case 8611 [translation available]

* Switzerland 8 January 1997 Obergericht [Appellate Court] Luzern [translation available]
 

Germany 25 June 1996 Landgericht [District Court] Paderborn 44A [translation available]
 

Hungary 5 December 1995 Budapest Arbitration award Vb 94131 [translation available]

Germany 30 November 1995 Landgericht [District Court] Stuttgart

* Germany 8 February 1995 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München [7 U 3758/94] (Plastic granulate case) 44A [translation available]
 

Germany 9 November 1994 Landgericht [District Court] Oldenburg [translation available]

Serbia 12 July 1994 Foreign Trade Court of Arbitration, Yugoslav Chamber of Commerce (Baby beef hide case) [translation available]

Germany 10 February 1994 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Düsseldorf [6 U 32/93] [translation available]

* ICC 1994 International Court of Arbitration, Case 7331 [English text]

ICC 1994 International Court of Arbitration, Case 7531 [English text]
 

* Germany 13 January 1993 Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Saarbrücken (Doors case) [translation available]


CASE DIGEST AND ANALYSIS
-   UNCITRAL's case law digest; and
-   An analysis of CISG jurisprudence

The UNCITRAL Digest of case law on the United
Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods
[*]

A/CN.9/SER.C/DIGEST/CISG/44 [8 June 2004]
Reproduced with the permission of UNCITRAL

[Text of Article 44
Digest of Article 44 case law
-    Overview and effect
-    Scope of Article 44
-    "Reasonable excuse" requirement:
      --    In general
      --    Burden of proof
      --    Application]
ARTICLE 44

     Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of article 39 and paragraph (1) of article 43, the buyer may reduce the price in accordance with article 50 or claim damages, except for loss of profit, if he has a reasonable excuse for his failure to give the required notice.

DIGEST OF ARTICLE 44 CASE LAW

Overview and Effect

1. When it applies, Article 44 softens -- although it does not eliminate -- the consequences suffered by a buyer that has failed to give the notice called for by either article 39(1), requiring notice of lack of conformity in delivered goods, or article 43(1), requiring notice of third party claims relating to the goods.[1] Normally, a buyer that does not comply with these notice provisions loses its remedies against the seller for the breach represented by the lack of conformity or the third party's claim. Under article 44, however, if a buyer has "a reasonable excuse" for its failure to give proper notice under articles 39(1) or 43(1), some of the buyer's remedies are restored: "the buyer may reduce the price in accordance with article 50 or claim damages, except for loss of profit ...". However other remedies that the buyer would have if it had satisfied the notice requirements are not restored, such as remedies associated with avoidance of contract. Thus in one decision in which article 44 applied, an arbitral panel permitted the buyer to recover damages for a lack of conformity despite the buyer's failure to properly notify the seller under article 39(1), although pursuant to article 44 the tribunal denied any damages for loss of profit.[2] In another arbitration ruling, a buyer that had failed to notify the seller of a lack of conformity within the time permitted by the contract was permitted to reduce the price as per article 50, although the panel noted that the buyer would be denied remedies premised on avoidance of the contract.[3]

Scope of Article 44

2. The relief granted by article 44 is restricted to failure to comply with the notice requirements of articles 39(1) or 43(1). Article 44 does not by its terms grant a buyer relief from the two-year cut-off of notice of lack of conformity imposed by article 39(2). A buyer that has failed to meet the notice deadline imposed by article 39(2) cannot apply article 44 to escape the consequences, even if the buyer has a "reasonable excuse" for the failure. In addition a court has found that, because article 44 does not refer to the buyer's obligation to examine goods under article 38, a buyer cannot invoke article 44 if the reason it failed to comply with the notice requirements of article 39(1) is because it did not examine the goods in a timely fashion, even if the buyer has a reasonable excuse for the tardy examination.[4] On appeal, however, this decision was reversed on other grounds,[5] and at least two other decisions appear to contradict it by applying article 44 where a buyer gave untimely notice because it delayed its examination of the goods but had a reasonable excuse for the delay.[6] Apparently taking an expansive view of the scope of article 44, one of the latter decisions applied the provision to a buyer that failed to meet a deadline for notice of a lack of conformity that was imposed not by article 39(1), but by a contractual provision.[7]

"Reasonable excuse" requirement: in general

3. Article 44 applies if the buyer "has a reasonable excuse" for failing to give the notice required by either article 39(1) or article 43(1). The notice requirements of articles 39(1) and 43(1) incorporate flexible standards in order to accommodate differing circumstances in the wide variety of transactions to which the CISG applies. Article 44 comes into play only if the flexible notice standards of article 39(1) and 43(1) are not satisfied. Therefore, the "reasonable excuse" standard must take an even more particularized and "subjective" approach to the buyer's circumstances, and several decisions appear to have adopted this track.[8]

Thus although one decision indicated that a reasonable excuse under article 44 requires that the buyer have acted "with the care and diligence required under the circumstances", the court stressed that this should be assessed by reference to the buyer's "concrete possibilities".[9] Another decision emphasized the very particular situation of the buyer by asserting that an individual engaged in business (an independent trader, artisan or professional) is more likely to have a reasonable excuse for failing to give required notice than is a business entity engaged in a fast-paced business requiring quick decisions and prompt actions.[10] Yet another decision implied that the small size of the buyer's operation, which did not permit it to spare an employee full time to examine the goods, might form the basis for a reasonable excuse for delayed notice, although the court found that the buyer's excuse in this case was not causally connected to its failure to even begin examining the goods until more than three months after it should have.[11]

"Reasonable excuse" requirement: burden of proof

4. It has been expressly asserted that the buyer bears the burden of proving the applicability of article 44 -- in particular, the burden of proving the existence of a "reasonable excuse" for the buyer's failure to comply with the notice requirements of articles 39(1) or 43(1).[12] Several other decisions appear to have implied the same rule when they rejected the buyer's argument that article 44 should apply, based on a lack of sufficient evidence of a reasonable excuse.[13]

"Reasonable excuse" requirement: application

5. Article 44 has been invoked in a number of decisions, but seldom successfully: in a substantial majority of decisions, the deciding tribunal found that the "reasonable excuse" requirement was not satisfied.[14] In one case, for example, a buyer argued that it had a reasonable excuse for failing to give timely notice of a non-conformity because the goods had been held up in customs when they arrived in the buyer's country, and the installation of processing machinery needed for a trial run of the goods had been delayed. The court, however, ruled that the buyer had failed to show that it could not have gotten access to the goods in order to examine them when they first arrived in the port of destination; furthermore, the buyer had failed to show that the delay in the installation of the processing machinery was not due to its own neglect.[15] In another case the buyer argued that the seller had delivered fish of a different type than the buyer had ordered. The buyer also argued that the fish had other non-conformities, and that its reasonable excuse for not giving timely notice of the additional non-conformities was that it considered the contract avoided because seller had delivered the wrong type of fish. The court, however, found that the buyer had acquiesced in the seller's written description of the fish that were delivered; thus the buyer could not object to the type of fish supplied, and its excuse for failing to give notice of the other non-conformities was also not valid under article 44.[16] Another decision asserted that, because the buyer's business was in general fast-paced, requiring quick decisions and prompt action, the buyer did not have a reasonable excuse for failing to give timely notice of a lack of conformity.[17] Another court found that a buyer who did not examine furs until they had been processed by a third party, and who as a result failed to give timely notice of a lack of conformity in the furs, did not have a reasonable excuse for its late notice because an expert could have examined a sample of the goods when they were delivered, and adequate means of communication existed between the parties to convey prompt notice.[18]

6. In at least two arbitration cases, however, a buyer successfully pleaded a reasonable excuse for failing to satisfy the article 39(1) notice requirement, and as a result was able to invoke the remedies that article 44 preserves for the buyer. In one decision, coke fuel was examined by an independent inspector, appointed jointly by both parties, at the time it was loaded on the carrier, and the inspector issued a certificate of analysis. When the delivery arrived, however, the buyer discovered that the delivery differed in both quantity and quality from the certificate of analysis, and the buyer thereupon notified the seller of the problem. The tribunal ruled that the buyer's notice was not timely under article 39(1), but that the erroneous certificate of analysis gave the buyer a reasonable excuse for the delay: because the certificate was the product of an independent body appointed by both parties, the buyer was not bound by it or responsible for its errors, and thus it could invoke article 44.[19] In another arbitration proceeding, a provision of the contract required claims of non-conformity to be brought forward within 50 days of the date stamped on a bill of lading issued when the goods were dispatched. Inspection of the goods at the port of shipment became unfeasible, and the buyer did not examine the goods until they arrived at their destination. As a result, the buyer did not give notice of lack of conformity within the 50 day deadline, but the court found that the buyer had a reasonable excuse for the delay and applied article 44 to permit the buyer to reduce the price of the goods pursuant to article 50 of the Convention.[20]


FOOTNOTES

* The present text was prepared using the full text of the decisions cited in the Case Law on UNCITRAL Texts (CLOUT) abstracts and other citations listed in the footnotes. The abstracts are intended to serve only as summaries of the underlying decisions and may not reflect all the points made in the digest. Readers are advised to consult the full texts of the listed court and arbitral decisions rather than relying solely on the CLOUT abstracts.

[Citations to cisgw3 case presentations have been substituted [in brackets] for the case citations provided in the UNCITRAL Digest. This substitution has been made to facilitate online access to CLOUT abstracts, original texts of court and arbitral decisions, and full text English translations of these texts (available in most but not all cases). For citations UNCITRAL had used, go to <http://www.uncitral.org/english/clout/digest_cisg_e.htm>.]

1. Article 44 is not the only provision that limits the impact of a buyer's failure to give the required notice. Articles 40 and 43(2) contain similar (but not identical) provisions excusing the buyer's failure to notify based upon the seller's awareness of a lack of conformity or of a third party's claim to the goods.

2. [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 9187 of June 1999, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/999187i1.html>].

3. [RUSSIA Arbitration Award case No. 054/1999 of 24 January 2000; available at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/000124r1.html>].

4. CLOUT case No. 230 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Karlsruhe 25 June 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/970625g1.html>]. In other words, according to this decision only a failure or delay in actually dispatching notice is subject to the "reasonable excuse" doctrine of article 44; failure to comply with the article 38(1) examination requirement, no matter what the reason, is not within the scope of article 44. Note that the "dispatch principle" of article 27, under which a delay or error in transmitting a notice or its failure to arrive does not deprive the notice of effect, apparently would apply to notice under articles 39(1) or 43(1).

5. CLOUT case No. 270 [GERMANY Bundesgerichtshof [Supreme Court] 25 November 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/981125g1.html>]. In this appeal the court found that the seller had waived its right to rely on the buyer's failure to give proper notice, and for this reason the court expressly left open the issue of whether buyer could invoke article 44.

6. [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 9187 of June 1999, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/999187i1.html>]; [RUSSIA Arbitration Award case No. 054/1999 of 24 January 2000; available at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/000124r1.html>].

7. Id.

8. All three of the decisions discussed in this paragraph concluded by finding that the buyer did not have a reasonable excuse and thus was not entitled to the benefits of article 44.

9. CLOUT case No. 285 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Koblenz 11 September 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980911g1.html>] (see full text of the decision).

10. CLOUT case No. 167 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München 8 February 1995, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/950208g2.html>] (see full text of the decision).

11. CLOUT case No. 192 [SWITZERLAND Obergericht [Appellate Court] Luzern 8 January 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/970108s1.html>] (see full text of the decision).

12. CLOUT case No. 285 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Koblenz 11 September 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980911g1.html>] (see full text of the decision); CLOUT case No. 292 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Saarbrücken 13 January 1993, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/930113g1.html>] (see full text of the decision).

13. CLOUT case No. 280 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Jena 26 May 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980526g1.html>] (see full text of the decision); CLOUT case No. 303 [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 7331 of 1994, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/947331i1.html>] (see full text of the decision); CLOUT case No. 378 [ITALY Tribunale [District Court] Vigevano 12 July 2000, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/000712i3.html>] (see full text of the decision); [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 8611 of 23 January 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/978611i1.html>].

14. In the following cases, the court found that they buyer did not have a reasonable excuse for its failure to satisfy the notice requirement of article 39(1): [NETHERLANDS Gerechtshof [Appellate Court] 's-Hertogenbosch 15 December 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/971215n1.html>]; CLOUT case No. 285 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Koblenz 11 September 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980911g1.html>]; CLOUT case No. 280 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Jena 26 May 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980526g1.html>] (see full text of the decision); CLOUT case No. 167 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München 8 February 1995, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/950208g2.html>]; CLOUT case No. 192 [SWITZERLAND Obergericht [Appellate Court] Luzern 8 January 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/970108s1.html>] (see full text of the decision); CLOUT case No. 303 [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 7331 of 1994, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/947331i1.html>]; CLOUT case No. 230 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Karlsruhe 25 June 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/970625g1.html>] (see full text of the decision); CLOUT case No. 378 [ITALY Tribunale [District Court] Vigevano 12 July 2000, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/000712i3.html>] (see full text of the decision); [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 8611 of 23 January 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/978611i1.html>]; CLOUT case No. 273 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München 9 July 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/970709g1.html>]; CLOUT case No. 292 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Saarbrücken 13 January 1993, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/930113g1.html>] (see full text of the decision); CLOUT case No. 263 [SWITZERLAND Bezirksgericht [District Court] Unterrheintal 16 September 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980916s1.html>] (see full text of the decision); [DENMARK Sø og Handelsretten [Maritime Commercial Court] 31 January 2002, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/020131d1.html>].

The number of cases in which a buyer was able successfully to invoke article 44, in contrast, is quite small. See [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 9187 of June 1999, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/999187i1.html>]; [RUSSIA Arbitration Award case No. 054/1999 of 24 January 2000; available at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/000124r1.html>]. It should be noted, however, that in one decision in which the court found Article 44 inapplicable the court nevertheless implied that the buyer had adduced facts that would have constituted a reasonable excuse had they been causally connected to the buyer's failure to satisfy the article 39(1) notice requirement. See CLOUT case No. 192 [SWITZERLAND Obergericht [Appellate Court] Luzern 8 January 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/970108s1.html>].

15. CLOUT case No. 285 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] Koblenz 11 September 1998, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980911g1.html>].

16. [DENMARK Sø og Handelsretten [Maritime Commercial Court] 31 January 2002, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/020131d1.html>].

17. CLOUT case No. 167 [GERMANY Oberlandesgericht [Appellate Court] München 8 February 1995, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/950208g2.html>] (see full text of the decision).

18. [NETHERLANDS Gerechtshof [Appellate Court] 's-Hertogenbosch 15 December 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/971215n1.html>].

19. [ICC Court of Arbitration, case No. 9187 of June 1999, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/999187i1.html>].

20. [RUSSIA Arbitration Award case No. 054/1999 of 24 January 2000; available at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/000124r1.html>]. In another case, a court implied that the small size of the buyer's operation, which did not permit it to spare an employee full time to examine the goods, might constitute a reasonable excuse for delayed notice, although the court found that the buyer's excuse in this case was not causally connected to its failure to even begin examining the goods until more than three months after it should have. See CLOUT case No. 192 [SWITZERLAND Obergericht [Appellate Court] Luzern 8 January 1997, available online at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/970108s1.html>].


ANALYSIS OF CISG CASE LAW

Reprinted by special permission of Northwestern University School of Law. 34 Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business (Winter 2004) 299-440.[*]

excerpt from

The Interpretive Turn in International Sales Law:
An Analysis of Fifteen Years of CISG Jurisprudence

Larry A. DiMatteo, Lucien Dhooge, Stephanie Greene,
Virginia Maurer and Marisa Pagnattaro

[...]

3. Reasonable Excuse: Article 44

National courts interpreting Article 44 have focused on one primary issue, specifically, the determination of reasonable excuses for failure to give notice of non-conformity of goods as required by Article 39. This provision has been subject to criticism by academics for its lack of clarity and resultant liberality in excusing tardy or absent notices pursuant to Article 39.[415] Article 44 has also been criticized for its lack of clarity as to what constitutes a "reasonable excuse."[416] As a result, at least one commentator has recommended that sellers protect themselves from the uncertainty arising from Article 44 by varying the CISG's notice provisions by agreement, including the elimination of excuses for failure to provide [page 370] notice.[417]

The sparse case law interpreting the reasonable excuse provision of Article 44 is inconsistent with these criticisms. Rather, the national courts that have addressed this issue have proven most reluctant to excuse noncompliance with Article 39. These opinions have cited numerous reasons for refusing to conclude that a buyer's failure or delay in providing notice was excusable. A Dutch court noted that a Greek buyer could not use Article 44 as an excuse for a three-week delay in providing notice to a Dutch furrier since the defects were easily detectable through a sampling of the goods.[418] Reasonable excuse also does not exist if the buyer delays in communicating consumer complaints. [419] A German court rationalized that a restrictive use of excuse is necessary due to the fast paced nature of business. There is often need for prompt action that is dependent upon timely notice. [420] However, this same court found that the granting of an excuse for untimely notice is less justified when the purchaser is an experienced and sophisticated participant in the international marketplace.[421] The court noted that it would be easier to accept excuses from single traders and artisans.[422] At this time, the nature of the differences necessary to justify different treatment and the specific excuses that would be acceptable to a national court remain indeterminate.

[...]


FOOTNOTES

* For a subsequent text on this subject by these authors, see Larry A. DiMatteo, Lucien Dhooge, Stephanie Greene, Virginia Maurer & Marisa Pagnattaro, "International Sales Law: A Critical Analysis of CISG Jurisprudence", Cambridge University Press (2005) 241 p.

[...]

415. See Schlechtriem, supra note 107, at 70.

416. See Garro, Reconciliation, supra note 114.

417. See E. Allan Farnsworth, The Vienna Convention: An International Law for the Sale of Goods, in Private Investors Abroad -- Problems and Solutions in International Business 121, 127, 134 (Martha L. Landwehr ed. 1983).

418. See Nurka Furs/Nertsenfokkerij De Ruiter, supra note 381.

419. See BG Unterrheintal, EV. 1998.2 (1KZ. 1998.7), Sept. 16, 1998 (Switz.), available at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/980916s1.html> (nine month delay in communicating customer complaints about furniture sold by a German seller to a Swiss buyer).

420. See OLG München 7 U 3758/94, Feb. 8, 1995, supra note 346 (sale and purchase of plastic granulate).

421. Id.

422. Id.

[...]

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