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Germany 3 July 1989 District Court München (Fashion textiles case) [translation available]
[Cite as: http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/890703g1.html]

Primary source(s) for case presentation: Case text

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Case identification

DATE OF DECISION: 19890703 (3 July 1989)


TRIBUNAL: LG München [LG = Landgericht = District Court]

JUDGE(S): Unavailable


CASE NAME: German case citations do not identify parties to proceedings

CASE HISTORY: Unavailable

SELLER'S COUNTRY: Italy (plaintiff)

BUYER'S COUNTRY: Germany (defendant)

GOODS INVOLVED: Fashion textiles

Case abstracts

GERMANY: LG München 3 July 1989

Case law on UNCITRAL texts (CLOUT) abstract no. 3

Reproduced with permission from UNCITRAL

A German fashion retailer and Italian clothing manufacturer concluded in 1988 a contract for the sale of various fashion goods. The buyer refused payment, alleging to have notified the seller within eight days after delivery (and twelve days after a second delivery) of "poor workmanship and improper fitting" of the goods.

Following German private international law, the court applied CISG as the law of Italy in force at the time of the conclusion of the contract. The court held that the buyer has lost the right to rely on non-conformity of the goods since the notifications, even if sent as alleged, did not specify precisely the defect in the goods.

Abstract from 14 Journal of Law & Commerce (1995) 225

Reproduced with permission from the Journal

Standard of complaints under CISG, Article 39. Pursuant to CISG, Article 39(1) the buyer loses the right to rely on a lack of conformity in the goods if he does not give the seller notice thereof within as short a period of time as is reasonable after he discovered or should have discovered the non-conformity. The notice must precisely describe the nature of the defect. Neither of the buyer's notifications in this case contained an exact description of the defects; they merely alleged poor workmanship and fit. The purpose of requiring notice concerning a lack of conformity -- to create clarity within as short a time as possible to facilitate correction of the defects -- is not met by such general allegations.

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Classification of issues present

APPLICATION OF CISG: Yes [Article 1(1)(b)]


Key CISG provisions at issue: Article 39(1) [Also cited: Article 74 ]

Classification of issues using UNCITRAL classification code numbers:

39A11 [Requirement to notify seller of lack of conformity: degree of specificity required]

Descriptors: Lack of conformity notice, specificity

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Editorial remarks

EDITOR: Albert H. Kritzer

Notice of lack of conformity. The key issue is interpretation of the Article 39(1) requirement that buyer's notice of lack of conformity must specify "the nature of the lack of conformity". The case involved the sale of fashion goods by a manufacturer of such goods to a retailer. The court held that a mere reference to "poor workmanship and improper fitting" of the goods was inadequate.

DiMatteo presents the following comparison of this ruling with likely results under the U.S. Uniform Commercial Code: "Section 2-605 of the UCC contains a notice provision analogous to the one found in the CISG. The specificity required under the Code, however, seems to be less demanding than that required [by this court] under the Convention. Under the Code, the rejecting party at first only needs to state in general terms the reason for the rejection. A comment to the Code explains that under this section, the buyer is permitted to give a 'quick and informal notice of defects in a tender without penalizing him for omissions in his statement.' There is at least one exception, however, to the general character of the notice requirement: 'Where the defect in a tender is one which could have been cured by the seller, a buyer who merely rejects the delivery without stating his objections to it is probably acting in commercial bad faith. . . .' This clarification indicates that a general notice, rather than a particularized one, is sufficient to satisfy the dictates of the Code. Under the Code, the seller may, however, make a formal request in writing for a more particularized listing of the defects on which the buyer proposes to rely in making her rejection. The German court's determination that 'poor workmanship and improper fit' was not specific enough may lead to the conclusion that the degree of specificity required under the Convention is greater than that required under the UCC." Larry A. DiMatteo, "The CISG and the Presumption of Enforceability: Unintended Contractual Liability in International Business Dealings", 22 Yale Journal of International Law (1997) 163-164 [citations omitted].

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Citations to other abstracts, case texts and commentaries


English: Uniform Law Review (1989-2) 850-851; Unilex database <http://www.unilex.info/case.cfm?pid=1&do=case&id=6&step=Abstract>

French: Uniform Law Review (1989-2) 850

German: Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Internationales und Europäisches Recht (SZIER) / Revue suisse de droit international et de droit européen 1993, 658

Italian: Diritto del Commercio Internazionale (1992) 634 No. 3

Polish: Hermanowski/Jastrzebski, Konwencja Narodow Zjednoczonych o umowach miedzynarodowej sprzedazy towarow (Konwencja wiedenska) - Komentarz (1997) 235


Original language (German): cisg-online.ch <http://www.cisg-online.ch/cisg/urteile/4.htm>; Praxis des internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts (IPRax) 1990, 316-317; Jahrbuch für Italienisches Recht (JbItR) 3 (1990) 191-192; Uniform Law Review II, 1989, 850-852; Die deutsche Rechtsprechung auf dem Gebiete des internationalen Privatrechts im Jahre (IPRspr) 1989 No. 44 [100]; Unilex database <http://www.unilex.info/case.cfm?pid=1&do=case&id=6&step=FullText>

Translation (English): Text presented below


English: Honnold, Uniform Law for International Sales (1999) 279 [Art. 3991) (specificity of notice)]; DiMatteo, 22 Yale Journal of International Law (1997) 163-164; Karollus, Cornell Review of the CISG (1995) 51 [69-71]; Ferrari, International Legal Forum (4/1998) 138-255 [239 n.936]; Ferrari, 15 Journal of Law and Commerce (1995) 99-116 [commentaries discuss notice issues, citing this and other cases]; Lookofsky, Understanding the CISG in the USA [CISG/USA] (1995) 49 n.62; Lookofsky, CISG/Scandinavia (1996) 61 n.86; Bernstein/Lookofsky, CISG/Europe (1997) 63 n.74; for a survey of German case law on specifying the nature of the non-conformity, go to 1998 Pace essay by Camilla Baasch Andersen at Section III.1.1.; DiMatteo, The Law of International Contracting, Kluwer (2000) 237; Witz, ICC International Court of Arbitration Bulletin, Vol. 11/No. 2 (Fall 2000) 17 n.23; Kuoppala, Examination of the Goods under the CISG and the Finnish Sale of Goods Act (2000) 4.3.1 [analysis of related articles 38, 39, 40 and 44 (includes digests of relevant material in many CISG cases; also digests cases under a domestic sales code that is patterned, for the most part, after the CISG)]; Bernstein & Lookofsky, Understanding the CISG in Europe, 2d ed., Kluwer (2003) § 4-9 n. 144; CISG-AC advisory opinion on Examination of the Goods and Notice of Non-Conformity [7 June 2004] (this case and related cases cited in addendum to opinion); [2004] S.A. Kruisinga, (Non-)conformity in the 1980 UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods: a uniform concept?, Intersentia at 91; [2005] Schlechtriem & Schwenzer ed., Commentary on UN Convention on International Sale of Goods, 2d (English) ed., Oxford University Press, Art. 39 para. 7

French: Witz, Les premières applications jurisprudentielles du droit uniforme de la vente internationale (L.G.D.J., Paris: 1995), 91; ; Guilbeault, Les Cahiers de Droit (Québec 1997) 315 [356 n.194]

German: Jametti-Greiner, Schweizerische Zeitschrift für internationales und Schweizerisches Recht (SZIER) 5/1993, 653; Karollus, [österreichisches] Recht der Wirtschaft (öRdW) 1991, 319; Piltz, Neue Juristische Wochenschrift 1994, 1101; Reinhart, Praxis des internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts (IPRax) 1990, 289 [292]

Italian: Veneziano, Rivista del diritto commerciale e del diritto generale delle obbligazioni 1992, 925 [945]

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Case text (English translation) [second draft]

Queen Mary Case Translation Programme

District Court (Landgericht) München 3 July 1989

Translation by Jutta Surovic [*]

Background of case

Plaintiff (seller): Supplier of fashion goods with relevant place of business in Italy.

Defendant (buyer): Owner of a fashion retail company with relevant place of business in Germany.

On 4 and 12 October 1988, buyer ordered various fashion goods from the seller. Part of this order was delivered on 19 October 1988, another part on 8 November 1988. The amount due was 9,155 DM [Deutsche Mark]. On 8 November 1988 the buyer drew a check for this amount which was postdated to 8 December 1988. On 8 November 1988, buyer also ordered other fashion goods which were delivered on 24 November 1988. The buyer drew a check for 16,385 DM, the purchase price, which was postdated 25 December 1988. Neither check was honored. By writing dated 10 February 1989, the buyer canceled the sale.

Seller alleged that all contract terms have been complied with and that he received neither the requisite notice of defect of goods nor a timely demand for avoidance of the contract.

The court had issued a provisional judgment ordering the buyer to pay 25,540 DM [9,155 DM + 16,385 DM] plus interest at the rate of 6% running from 6 December 1988 on the 9,155 DM and from 23 December 1988 on the 16,385 DM.

On appeal, buyer alleged that seller delivered late and defective goods; buyer reported the defects to the seller in writing on 16 November and 6 December 1988; buyer is entitled to damages of 22,173 DM because of loss of profit and the credit he had to give his customers due to defective goods. Alternatively, the buyer sets these claims for damages off against the seller's claim.

The District Court (Landgericht) affirmed the provisional judgment.

Reasons For the Decision

The court reviewed that the buyer's objections and held that they are not valid. This case does not require an inquiry into the evidence of alleged defects. The buyer cannot assert any claims for non-conformity because of lack of notice.

The governing law of the contract is the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). [Although the CISG was not yet effective in Germany] German law (Article 28 EGBGB) refers to Italian law and Italy is a party to the CISG. Article 1(1)(b) of this Convention empowers application of the CISG even though one of the contracting parties does not have his residence in a Contracting State.

According to Article 39(1) of the CISG, the buyer will lose his right to rely on a lack of conformity of the goods with the contract if he does not give notice to the seller specifying the nature of the lack of conformity within a reasonable time after he has discovered it or ought to have discovered it. It may remain undecided in this case whether buyer's letters of 16 November and 6 December 1988 were actually sent to the seller. Neither letter specifies the exact nature of the defects; both letters limit themselves to notification of poor workmanship and improper fitting of the goods. The purpose of the notification of defects is to clarify the nature of the complaint. The notice sent was not adequate. Even the letter of 23 December 1988, which seller acknowledges receiving, did not contain any specification of the defects.

["Nach Art. 39 Abs. 1VNKÜ verliert der Käufer das Recht, sich auf eine Vertragswidrigkeit der Ware zu berufen, wenn er sie dem Verkäufer nicht innerhalb einer angemessenen Frist nach dem Zeitpunkt, in dem er sie festgestellt hat oder hätte feststellen müssen, anzeigt und dabei die Art der Vertragswidrigkeit genau bezeichnet. An einer solchen Anzeige fehlt es im vorliegended Fall. Dabei kann dahinstehen, ob die vom Bekl. vorgelegten Schreiben v. 16. 11. und 6. 12. 1988 tatsächlich an die Kl. gesandt wurden. Beide Schreiben lassen es nämlich an einter genauen Bezeichnung der Mängel fehlen und beschränken sich auf die Geltendmachung schlechter Verarbeitung und Paßform. Der Zweck der Mängelrüge, kurzfristig Klarheit über die Beanstandungen zu schaffen, wird durch derart pauschale Angaben nich erreicht. Auch das Schreiben v. 23. 12. 1988, dessen Erhalt die K1. zugesteht, enthält keinerlei Spezifizierung der Mängel."]

In consequence of the loss of rights, according to Article 39(1) of the CISG the buyer cannot claim damages ...

* All translations should be verified by cross-checking against the original text.

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Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated August 12, 2005
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