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

DiMatteo, Larry A., Dhooge, Lucien, Greene, Stephanie, Maurer, Virginia | January 1, 2004

The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (“CISG”) was adopted on April 11, 1980, under the auspices of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”). The focus of this article is not whether the CISG mandates or should mandate absolute uniformity of application. The literature on this subject is quite extensive.15 Instead, this article recognizes that many CISG provisions are the product of compromise and thus we ask whether these compromises have proven to be effective or have resulted in a chaotic jurisprudence. How have the articles of the CISG actually been interpreted and applied by the various national courts? At the interpretive level, is there evidence of convergence or divergence among the national courts? This article concludes that the level of disharmony associated with divergent national interpretations is acceptable because national interpretations impact the effectiveness or functionality of the CISG.