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Reproduced with permission from Revue de droit uniforme/Uniform Law Review (1997) 385-395

excerpt from

The U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods: A Critical Analysis of Current International Case Law - 1997 (Part 1)

Michael Joachim Bonell [*] and Fabio Liguori [**]

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Choice of the law of a Contracting State

The view that the parties' agreement to submit the contract to the law of a Contracting State is equivalent to an implied choice of the Convention, can by now be considered widely accepted.[48]

National judges have affirmed this principle even in cases where the forum court was that of a non-Contracting State.[49]

Arbitral awards also provide some interesting examples [50]

In a case decided by the I.C.C. Court of Arbitration a Dutch seller and a United States buyer agreed that the contract would be subject to "the laws of Switzerland." The arbitral tribunal held CISG applicable, and excluded that an express designation of a national law could be construed as a reference to the provisions of that law applicable at domestic level, even when the parties, as in the case at hand, had chosen the law of a country of which neither is a national or a resident.[51]

Also worth mentioning is a recent award by the Schiedsgericht der Handelskammer of Hamburg, which held that by agreeing on a German arbitral court the parties had implicitly chosen the law of a Contracting State (German law) as the law governing the contract, and therefore CISG.[52]

It is generally accepted that the parties may implicitly exclude the application of the Convention not only by choosing the law of a non-Contracting State, but also by making reference to the provisions of the domestic sales law of a Contracting State.[53]

Doubts may therefore arise in relation to a decision of the Oberlandesgericht of Hamm according to which the express reference to the provisions of the German Civil Code made by the parties in the course of the proceedings, while constituting a valid choice of law according to German conflict of laws rules, was not sufficient to exclude the application CISG to the contract.[54]

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Go to entire text of Bonell/Liguori commentary


* Professor, Law Faculty, University of Rome 1 "La Sapienza"; Legal Consultant, Unidroit.

** Attorney in Rome; Research fellow, University of Rome 1 "La Sapienza".

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48. Cf. M.J Bonell - F. Liguori, The U.N. Convention, cit., at 155 et seq.

49. Cf. Tribunal de Commerce de Bruxelles, 11ème ch., 13 November 1992, cit.

50. In addition to those cited in the following text are ICC Court of Arbitration, n. 8324/1995, in Journal du droit international (1996) 1019, which expressly states that "l'autonomie des parties étant une règle du droit international privé, la désignation par elles du droit français en l'espèce conduit à l'application de la Convention" at p. 1020, ICC Court of Arbitration, n 7844/1994, in ICC International Court of Arbitration Bulletin (1995) n. 6, 72.

51. ICC Court of Arbitration, n. 7656/1994, in ICC International Court of Arbitranon Bulletin (1995) n. 6, 64.

52. Schiedsgericht der Handelskammer Hamburg, 21 March 1996, in Recht der Internationalen Wirtschaft (1996) 766.

53. Cf. M.J. Bonell, in C.M. Bianca- M.J. Bonell, Commentary on the International Sales Law. The 1980 Vienna Sales Convention (Milano, 1987) 56.

54. Oberlandesgericht Hamm, 9 June 1995, in IPRax: Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrecht (1996) 269, with a comment by P. Schlechtriem, Aufrechnung durch den Käufer wegen Nachbesserungsaufwand - deutsches Venragsstatut und UN-Kaufrecht, Id., at 256. A similar decision has been taken by Landgericht Landshut, 5 April 1995, n. 54 O 644/94, in UNILEX 1996 Cf. M.J. Bonell- F. Liguori, The U.N. Convention, cit., at 157, note 57.

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Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated August 16, 1999

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