Antecedents to the CISG


The antecedents to the CISG are the Convention relating to a Uniform Law on the Formation of Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (ULF) and the Convention relating to a Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods (ULIS) done at The Hague on 1 July 1964.

Certain concepts contained in the Hague Formation and Sales Conventions of 1964 (ULF and ULIS) influenced the CISG. The UNCITRAL Yearbook deliberations on the CISG commenced with the texts of these conventions. Some CISG articles are similar to their ULIS-ULF antecedents; some were changed. Where a Hague Convention concept was carried forward, ULF and ULIS deliberations, commentaries, and case law can be relevant to the proper interpretation of CISG provisions.There are many commentaries on these uniform sales laws. In certain countries, there is also a respectable body of case law on these antecedents to the CISG.

Moreover, "[s]ome provisions of the [CISG] are substantially the same as provisions of . . . the 1964 Conventions". John O. Honnold, Documentary History of the Uniform Law for International Sales (Kluwer 1989) 6. For example, Specific performance (ULIS articles 16 and VII(1)/CISG article 28, and Damages (ULIS article 82/CISG article 74). A good example of the utility of mining Hague Convention precedents as an aid to the interpretation of the CISG is to be found in the Bibliography citation to Eric C. Schneider, "Consequential Damages in the International Sale of Goods: Analysis of Two Decisions", 16 Journal of International Business Law 615 (1996). This is an analysis of a Hague Convention ruling by the Supreme Court of Germany and a CISG ruling by a United States District Court. There is merit to such an analysis because the ULIS and CISG provisions construed by these courts are substantively identical.

Another such example of the utility of mining Hague Convention precedents as an aid to the interpretation of the CISG is to be found in the comments by Frans J.A. Van der Velden on "reasonableness" as a general principle of the CISG, in support of which he cites the January 1, 1976 ULIS ruling of the Court of Appeals (Gerechtshof) of Amsterdam. 1978 Schip en Schade [S&S] 79. Similarly, Peter Schlechtriem cites a ULIS case as support for the proposition that the CISG may be regarded as a "yardstick for the validity of clauses that the parties have not really agreed upon but that one has imposed upon the other through the use of standard terms or other means." Judgment of 29 April 1982, 1983 Praxis des internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts 231, cited in International Sales: The United Nations Convention for the International Sale of Goods (Galston & Smit, eds. 1984) 6-1, 6-6.

This Database contains three presentations of ULIS/ULF materials:

Full texts of ULIS and ULF

Match-ups with provisions of the CISG

See the legislative history presentation for each article of the CISG for a match-up of its provisions with the provisions of its ULIS/ULF antecedents.

Case Law on antecedents to the CISG

The ULIS/ULF case law segment of the database is in its infancy. Where a ULIS or ULF case is relevant to the interpretation of the CISG, the intent is to present material on that case. Where material on ULIS or ULF case law is contained in the Database, it may be accessed via the Database search page (insert "ULIS" or "ULF" in the "Enter search term" field).

Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law
Last updated: 
Friday, February 10, 2017