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A critical analysis of the seemingly contradictory principles of uniformity and party autonomy underlying the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG) of 1980: the objectives behind these principles and the complexities arising from their application in the context of the main objectives of the Convention.

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The need for a uniform law governing the cross-border sale of goods, balancing the rights of importers and exporters as well as creating certainty and predictability in the application of international sales law rules, led to the creation of different international instruments and conventions that were enacted and adopted by different states to regulate international sales contracts. A notable example of such private international law instruments that have been adopted by some 85 states, is the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sales of Goods (CISG). This study seeks to evaluate the question of whether the fundamental principles of promoting uniformity in the laws regulating cross border sales contracts, while still respecting the right to party autonomy, that underpins the CISG, is a workable reality. This question will be evaluated by analysing relevant provisions of the CISG, as well as court and arbitral decisions to see how these forums within diverse CISG member states are interpreting and applying these provisions of the Convention in the context of these seemingly contradictory general principles underpinning the CISG. Whether the extensive rights to party autonomy provided for under the CISG promotes or hinders its primary objective of achieving uniformity in international sales contracts. The writer will further analyse the compromises made in the drafting of the CISG in order to achieve this goal of international uniformity and the effects of these compromises on the interpretation and application of the Convention.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.