2008 UNCITRAL Digest of case law on the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods
Digest of Article 52 case law [reproduced with permission of UNCITRAL] [*]
[Text of article
Early delivery (art. 52(1))
Delivery of excess quantity (art. 52(2))]
(1) If the seller delivers the goods before the date fixed, the buyer may take delivery
or refuse to take delivery.
(2) If the seller delivers a quantity of goods greater than that provided for in the contract, the buyer may take delivery or refuse to take delivery of the excess quantity. If the buyer takes delivery of all or part of the excess quantity, he must pay for it at the contract rate.
1. Even where the seller does more than is required by the contract there is an issue of non-performance. Article 52 addresses two such situations -- namely, if the seller delivers goods too early (article 52(1)) or delivers too many goods (article 52(2)). In both cases article 52 provides that the buyer is entitled to refuse delivery of the goods. If the buyer accepts a greater quantity of goods than that provided for in the contract, article 52(2) provides that the buyer is bound to pay the contract price for the excess quantity.
Early delivery (article 52(1))
2. If the seller delivers the goods before the time for delivery stipulated in the contract the buyer may refuse the tender. Early delivery occurs if the contract stipulates a certain date or period at or during which delivery must be effected (e.g., "delivery during the 36th week of the year") and delivery is made prior to that date. Under a term such as delivery until 1 September, any delivery before that date would be in accordance with the contract. If the buyer has rightfully refused the goods because of early delivery, the seller must redeliver the goods at the correct time. Pursuant to article 86, if the buyer intends to reject goods delivered early he may be responsible for the goods in the interim.
3. If, however, the buyer takes over goods that are delivered early, the buyer is obliged to pay the contract price. Any remaining damage (additional storage costs and the like) may be recovered according to article 45(1)(b), unless the acceptance of the early tendered goods amounts to an agreement to modify the delivery date.
4. The rules regarding early delivery also apply if documents relating to the goods are tendered prematurely.
Delivery of excess quantity (article 52(2))
5. If the seller delivers a greater quantity of goods than stipulated, the buyer is entitled to reject the excess. According to case law, there is not a delivery of excess goods where the contract allows for delivery "+/-10 per cent" and delivery remains within those limits. If the buyer does not wish to take and pay the contract price for excess goods he must give notice of the incorrect quantity because it constitutes a non-conformity to which the notice requirement of article 39 applies. After a rightful refusal to take the excess quantity, the buyer must preserve the excess goods pursuant to article 86. If the buyer takes all or part of the excess quantity, however, it is obliged to pay at the contract rate for the excess part. If the buyer cannot separately reject the excess quantity, the buyer can avoid the entire contract if the delivery of the excess quantity amounts to a fundamental breach of contract; if the buyer cannot avoid and thus must take delivery of the excess, the buyer must pay for it but (provided the notice requirement of article 39 is satisfied) can claim compensation for any damages he suffers from the breach.
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1. See the Digest for article 33, para. 6.
2. See Official Records of the United Nations Conference on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, Vienna, 10 March-11 April 1980 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.81.IV.3), 44, para. 5.
3. Id., para. 4.
4. [RUSSIA Tribunal of International Commercial Arbitration at the Russian Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Award 200/1994 of 25 April 1995 (Chocolate products case)] (dispatch, in mid-December, of chocolates for Christmas, before buyer transmitted bank guarantee which was supposed to establish the delivery date; buyer obliged to pay full price).
5. See Official Records of the United Nations Conference on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, Vienna, 10 March-11 April 1980 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.81.IV.3), 44, para. 6.
6. [CANADA Ontario Superior Court of Justice 31 August 1999 (Picture frame mouldings case)].
7. Id. (see full text of the decision).
8. See Official Records of the United Nations Conference on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, Vienna, 10 March-11 April 1980 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.81.IV.3), 44, para. 9.