Copyright (c) 1996 Pace University School of Law
Pace International Law Review
ESSAY: THE SPHERE OF APPLICATION OF
THE VIENNA CONVENTION ON CONTRACTS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL
SALE OF GOODS *
* The Pace International Essay Contest on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods attracted interest from law students in: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sweeden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Zambia. Each essay submitted was reviewed by the Executive Secretary of the Pace Institute of International Commercial Law who selected the top sixteen finalists (each was awarded a Certificate of Merit). The finalist essays were judged by Professor Alejandro M. Garro of Columbia University Law School who selected the top five essays. The factors considered were: Quality of analysis (is it convincing, substantiated); Quality of writing (style, clarity, organization); Thoroughness of research (types and varieties of source materials); Originality (is the author's approach innovative?); and Interest of the subject matter. On the basis of these criterion Kevin Bell's article, "The Sphere of Application of the Vienna Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods," was selected first prize and in addition to the Merit Certificate received five thousand dollars ($ 5,000.00).
8 Pace Int'l L. Rev. 237
Kevin Bell **
The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods 1 is "rapidly becoming one of the most successful multi-lateral treaties ever in the field of agreements designed to unify rules traditionally addressed only in domestic legal systems." 2 As of this writing, forty-five nations have ratified, approved or acceded to the Convention, 3 which is likely to become the worldwide law governing international sales transactions. 4 Commentators from developed and developing worlds, civil and common law traditions, have lavished encomia upon the CISG. It's been called a "quantum leap," 5 a "new legal lingua franca," 6 a "milestone," 7 a "triumph of comparative legal work" 8 and "arguably the greatest legislative achievement aimed at harmonizing private commercial law." 9 Even its critics regard the CISG as "monumental." 10
This is all the more remarkable given the novel character of the Convention. Unlike the typical treaty, the CISG binds, not States, but private parties within those States, hence, business people engaged in the transnational sale of goods. The particular importance of the Convention's "relatively straightforward and uncluttered" 11 style is surely an element in its success. The CISG is "expressed in the simple phraseology of commerce," 12 which is appropriate since it is business people who must understand the meaning of its provisions. 13
This note contends that the same clarity, practicality, and predictability informs the Convention's sphere of applicability which, far more than its substantive provisions, is the principal reason for the CISG's ...
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