CISG Translation Network

Over the last decade, the Institute of International Commercial Law has formed partnerships with academic institutions and individual scholars around the world to provide the legal community with high quality professional translations into English of foreign case law (including arbitral awards) relating to the CISG and UNIDROIT Principles (“The CISG Translation Network”). This organized effort has generated over 1,800 translations of CISG decisions and arbitral awards. The Network is overseen by Vikki Rogers, Director, Institute of International Commercial Law, Pace Law School (US), Dr Loukas Mistelis, Clive M Schmitthoff Professor of Transnational Commercial Law and Arbitration, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary, University of London (UK), and Leandro Tripodi, Editor-in-chief of the CISG Brazil Website, International Law Officer, Moot Alumni Association (MAA) and member of the Brazilian Arbitration Committee (CBAr) and Doctoral candidate in International and Comparative Law in the University of São Paulo (Brazil).

To obtain permission to reproduce full translations for commercial or non-commercial use, please contact the IICL at vrogers@law.pace.edu.

Institutional partners in the network include:

  • Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary, University of London (“Queen Mary Case Translation Programme”, the nominal description used for a transatlantic joint venture between the Institute of International Commercial Law at the Pace University School of Law)
  • International Law Project ('ILP') (a partnership between the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot's Moot Alumni Association ('MAA'), the Institute of International Law at Pace Law School and UNCITRAL). Further details in relation to the ILP can be obtained from the Moot Alumni Association's webpage at www.maa.net. Additionally, the MAA's International Law Officers, Luíza Kömel and Leandro Tripodi (based at São Paulo (Largo de São Francisco Faculty of Law)), can be contacted at ilp@maa.net
  • New York University School of Law
  • University of Belgrade

  • University of Heidelberg

  • Professor Tang Houzhi Case Translation Program

  • We are also grateful to the members of our Autonomous CISG Network who regularly provide cases, recommend translators and edit case translations on our behalf.

Hundreds of individuals have also contributed their skill and time to make the translation program a success. The individuals are identified and given due credit on the case translation(s) that they completed on behalf of the Institute of International Commercial Law.

Should you wish to obtain further information or to join the pool of lawyers willing to translate cases occasionally or to share transcripts of interesting cases please do not hesitate to contact Vikki Rogers at <vrogers@law.pace.edu>, Loukas Mistelis at <L.Mistelis@qmul.ac.uk> or Leandro Tripodi <leandrocisg@gmail.com>.


Taming the Dragons of Uniform Law Case Law:
Sharing the reasoning of courts and arbitral tribunals

Schedule of English case texts and translated case texts

["Taming the Dragons of Uniform Law" (title purloined from a scholar who coined it in another context) is a report on sharings of judicial reasoning in 1,885 English texts and English translations of court and arbitral awards on the UN Convention on Contracts for International Sale of Goods (CISG). "Dragon taming" is also an overture. We invite colleagues to serve our profession and the world trade community with us by collaborating on additional case translations.]

Calling attention to the need to consider foreign case law to "promote ... the uniform application of the CISG", Ferrari identifies uniform-law dragons. He states:

"[R]equiring interpreters to consider foreign decisions can create practical difficulties. On the one hand, foreign case law is not readily available, i.e., it cannot easily be retrieved. On the other hand, foreign case law is often written in a language unknown to the interpreter."[*]

[*] Franco Ferrari, "Applying the CISG in a Truly Uniform Manner, Uniform Law Review (2001-1) 206 [citations omitted].

To comply with the mandate recited in article 7(1) CISG, courts must have due regard to the "international character" of the CISG "and to the need to promote uniformity in its application," and scholars must be equipped to assist judges struggling to comprehend the ramifications and applications of this uniform international sales law. Schlechtriem reminds us of a corollary responsibility of scholars. He states:

A major help scholars can provide is by analyzing the cases of their countries and of other countries "as thoroughly as possible to present the full picture of interpretations and applications to our jurists."[*]

[*] Peter Schlechtriem, "Uniform Sales Law - The Experience with Uniform Sales Law in the Federal Republic of Germany", 3 Juridisk Tidskrift 1 (1991-92) 16 (emphasis added).

In collaboration with centers of learning of many countries <"http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/network.html">, we make CISG case law of all countries freely and readily available <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu> on the Internet. We provide:

  • English texts of rulings of rulings on the CISG by courts of Australia, Canada, and the United States and texts of arbitral awards on our uniform law handed down in English by ICC and Stockholm Chamber of Commerce arbitral tribunals, and by arbitral tribunals of Switzerland;
  • English translations of rulings on the CISG by courts of Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Stockholm, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vietnam, including rulings of the Supreme Courts of Argentina, Austria, Colombia, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, and of arbitral interpretations of the CISG handed down by ICC tribunals and tribunals of Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.

In ruling on an international convention, Lord Denning stated: We are told that there have been no decisions so far in other countries on this article of the convention ... So where we lead, others may follow. But I would like to assure them that if it had come first before them, we would be only too glad to follow them."[*]

[*]James Buchanan & Co Ltd v Babco Forwarding and Shipping (U.K.) Ltd [1977] 1 All ER 518 (CA) at 522, 524, [1977] 2 WRL 107 (CA) at 113, 113-14; reinforced by Fothergill v Monarch Airlines [1981] AC 252 (HL), [1980] All ER 696 (HL).

We also report compatible views of representatives of Latin American (Argentina), Scandinavian (Finland), United States, and German legal cultures, and of another English jurist. Representatives of many legal cultures favor consideration of decisions of courts of sister signatories. High courts, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court, urge us to give them "considerable weight".

  • Antonio Boggiano and Lord Scarman state: "Uniform law requires ... a new common law" in which "[f]oreign precedents would not be precedents of a foreign law, but of uniform law";[*] "[c]ourts ... have to develop their jurisprudence in company with the courts of other countries ..." Lief Sevón states that a judge ought to be "obliged to search for and take into consideration foreign judgments ... at least the judgments from other Contracting States, when he is faced with a problem of interpretation of an international convention."[**]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court, Boggiano, and Jürgen Schwarze state that "the opinions of our sister signatories [to an international convention] are to be entitled to considerable weight"; they are to be taken into account "in a comparative and critical manner"; with the "integrative force of a judgment ... based on the persuasive reasoning which the decisions of the Court bring to bear on the problem at hand."[***]

CISG article 7(1) is the law of every country that has adopted the UN Sales Convention; the comity -- comity is the keyword -- that article 7(1) calls for is to the same effect.

*Antonio Boggiano [Argentina], "The Experience of Latin American States, in: International Uniform Law in Practice / Le droit uniform international dans la pratique, Oceana: New York (1988) 47. ** Lord Scarman [England], [1980] 2 All E.R 696, 715; Lief Sevón [Finland], "Observations", in: International Uniform Law in Practice, op. cit. at 135. *** El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd. v. Tsui Yuan Tseng, 525 U.S. 155, 176 (1999), quoting Air France v. Saks, 470 U.S. 392, 404 [1985] (defining the term "accident" as used in the Warsaw Convention); Boggiano, op. cit. at 47; Jürgen Schwarze [Germany], "The Role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Interpretation of Uniform Law among the Member States of the European Communities", in: International Law and Practice, op. cit. at 221.

There have been fine judicial implementations of the jurisconsultorium that CISG article 7(1) contemplates: 

* Franco Ferrari, "Applying the CISG in a Truly Uniform Manner", Uniform Law Review (2001-1) 208.

This is encouraging.[*] To stimulate more such comity -- similar to the comity U.S. state courts traditionally accord UCC rulings by courts of sister U.S. states -- jurists of all countries should consider decisions handed down in sister jurisdictions.

Can there be such a concept as ipso facto stare decisis? Henschel has coined this concept. He cites the 5 March 1998 "New Zealand mussels" ruling of the Federal Supreme Court of Germany in that context, calling attention to acceptance of its ratio decidendi in Austria and the United States. He cites the Medical Marketing ruling of the U.S. District Court, E.D. of Lousiana, 17 May 1999 and a 13 April 2000 ruling of the Federal Supreme Court of Austria, and points also to an earlier French ruling that is in accord, Cour d'appel de Grenoble of 13 September 1995.[**]

To consider decisions of sister jurisdictions, courts must be able to read them. The Institute of International Commercial Law of the Pace University School of Law, in collaboration with the Centre for Commercial Law Studies of Queen Mary College of the University of London, has inaugurated an English text program and case translation programme.

* We have also seen other cases, e.g., from the United States: Filanto v. Chilewich, 789 F. Supp. 1229, 1237 (S.D.N.Y. 14 April 1992) ("there is as yet virtually no U.S. case law interpreting the Sale of Goods Convention"); Beijing Metals v. American Business Center, 993 F.2d 1178 (5th Cir. 15 June 1993) (citing Filanto "there is as yet virtually no U.S. case law interpreting the Sale of Goods Convention"); Delchi v. Rotorex, 71 F.3d 1024, 1028 (2nd Cir 1995) ("there is virtually no case law under the Convention"); Helen Kaminski v. Marketing Australian Products, 1997 U.S. Dist. Lexis 10630 (S.D.N.Y. 23 July 1997) ("there is little to no case law on the CISG . . ."); Calzaturificio Claudia v. Olivieri Footwear, 1998 U.S. Dist. Lexis 4586 (S.D.N.Y/ 6 April 1998) ("The case law interpreting and applying the CISG is sparse", citing and quoting Kaminski "there is 'little to no case law on the CISG . . .' " and Filanto "there is virtually no United States case law interpreting the CISG"); Mitchell Aircraft Spares v. European Aircraft Service, 25 F. Supp. 2d 916 (N.D. Ill. 27 October 1998)) (" 'there is virtually no case law under the Convention' ", quoting Delchi); Supermicro Computer v. Digitechnic, 2001 U.S. Dist. Lexis 7620 (N.D. Cal. 30 January 2001) ("the case law interpreting and applying the CISG is sparse", citing Delchi); Schmitz-Werke v. Rockland, 2002 U.S. App. Lexis 12336 (4th Cir. 21 June 2002) ("case law interpreting the CISG is rather sparse", citing Calzaturificio Claudia); Macromex Srl. v. Globex International Inc., 2008 WL 1752530 (S.D.N.Y. 16 April 2008) "there is virtually no case law under the Convention", quoting Delchi); and most recently Miami Valley Paper, LLC v. Lebbing Engineering & Consulting GmbH, 2009 WL 818618 (S.D.Ohio 26 March 2009) "caselaw interpreting and applying the CISG is sparse", quoting Calzaturificio Claudia.

Contrast the case research by these courts with Flechtner's assessment of the case research that CISG article 7(1) requires. He states that article 7(1) of the CISG "[p]roperly understood ... requires a process or methodology involving awareness of ... interpretations of the CISG from outside one's own legal culture -- an approach not unlike the treatment U.S. courts accord decisions of other [U.S.] jurisdictions when applying [the U.S.] Uniform Commercial Code." Harry M. Flechtner, "Several Texts of the CISG in a Decentralized System: Observations on Translations, Reservations and Other Challenges to the Uniformity Principle in Article 7(1)", 17 Journal of Law & Commerce (1998) 187 <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/cisg/biblio/flecht1.html>. Hackney elaborates. He states that "when interpreting the Convention, a court should look to other court's interpretations of the Convention, including the interpretations of courts from other countries" and that "[t]he use in the U.S. of case law to interpret the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) can serve as a model for courts using case law to interpret the Convention. No state within the U.S. is bound by an interpretation of the UCC from another state, but the interpretations of the UCC from other jurisdictions are extremely persuasive. While this method does not achieve exact uniformity, the U.S. has achieved a level of uniformity of sales law that is useful to companies transacting business in many states." Philip T. Hackney, "Is the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods Achieving Uniformity?, 61 Louisiana Law Review (2001) 479.

The Supreme Court of Alaska put it as follows:

"Although precedent from other jurisdictions is, of course, not binding upon us, we nonetheless are mindful of the fact that a basic objective of the Uniform Commercial Code is to promote national uniformity in the commercial area and that this objective would be undermined should we decline to follow the stated intent of the Code's drafters and the reasoned decisions of a number of other jurisdictions." Escrow Closing and Consulting ABM, Inc. v. Matanuska Maid, Inc.,659 P.2d 1170, 1172 (Alaska 1983).

** René Henschel, Conformity of Goods in International Sales Governed by the CISG, Nordic Journal of Commercial Law, issue 2004 #1, article 2 at 9.

The MCC-Marble court advises that the website <http://cisg.law.pace.edu> is "a promising source" for "persuasive authority from courts of other states party to the CISG" (op. cit. at n.14). For a current example of reliance on the global jurisconsultorium by counsel, go to Trebacher Industrie, A.G. v. TDT, and the appellate pleading reported with the presentation of that case at <http://cisgw3.law.pace.edu/cases/050427u1.html>.

This website reports over 3,000 cases <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/cisg/text/casecit.html>. They are cases from 51 jurisdictions. Each case can be relevant to the interpretation of the CISG in any jurisdiction.

  • We have invited participation in the case translation programme by interested members of the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Alumni Association (MAA) and others. [For information on our Moot on the CISG, go to <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/vis.html>.] We invite participation by all interested persons with language fluencies who believe in the concept of uniform law and would like to help us tame the dragons of case law. Join us. Help us serve our profession and the world trade community this way. Contacts are: Loukas A. Mistelis <L.Mistelis@qmw.ac.uk> or Vikki Rogers <vrogers@law.pace.edu>.

The object of the programme is to share lessons learned by sharing the reasoning of jurists of all countries. The English texts and translated texts we now provide chart as follows.


Chart of 1,885 "tamed and assigned dragons"

 


Jurisdiction Lower Court    Appellate Court    Supreme Court    Arbitral Tribunal    Totals
American Arb. Assoc.
 
 
 
2
2
Argentina
5
6
 
 
11
Australia
7
5
 
 
12
Austria
3
20
54
3
80
Belarus
1
 
1
1
3
Belgium
25
24
1
 
50
Brazil
 
3
3
 
6
Bulgaria
 
 
 
12
12
Canada
11
1
1
 
13
Chile
 
 
1
 
1
China
27
23
6
335
391
Colombia
 
 
1
 
1
Czech Republic
 
 
2
 
2
Denmark
2
2
1
 
5
Egypt
 
 
 
3
3
Estonia
 
1
 
 
1
Finland
2
6
 
 
8
France
6
41
25
1
73
Germany
136
143
26
6
311
Hungary
3
3
3
4
13
ICC
 
 
 
45
45
Iran Tribunal
 
 
 
1
1
Israel
 
 
3
 
3
Italy
23
4
10
2
39
Mexico
6
4
 
3
13
Montenegro
 
1
 
 
1
Netherlands
30
16
2
3
51
New Zealand
2
4
 
 
6
Poland
 
 
5
1
6
Romania
 
 
1
 
1
Russia
1
20
9
212
242
Serbia
 
9
 
35
44
Singapore
 
 
1
 
1
Slovak Republic
56
8
11
 
75
Slovenia
 
3
1
 
4
Spain
8
47
5
 
60
Stockholm
Chamber of Commerce
 
 
 
3
3
Switzerland
53
49
24
1
127
Ukraine
1
1
1
21
24
United Kingdom
 
2
1
 
3
United States
119
18
 
 
137
Vietnam
 
1
 
 
1
Totals
527
465
199
694
1,885

 


We list three categories of cases: [QM] cases processed pursuant to the Queen Mary Case Translation Programme, [CTN] cases processed pursuant to the CISG Case Translation Network, and other cases.

  • Three levels of scholars review each case translation prior to its publication as an integrated part of an Internet case presentation.
  • Researchers can link to these case translations, and we offer links to presentations that contain additional data on each case. As a general rule, the contents of each case presentation also include an abstract of the case (usually an UNCITRAL abstract) and a link to the original text of the case, a case text generally entered on the Internet by the center for international studies of a collaborating university, a member of the Autonomous Network of CISG Websites <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/network.html>. The typical linked table of contents to our case presentations reads:
  • By jumping from these underlined links in the case presentations, researchers can access additional information on each case, often including full texts of scholarly commentaries on the case. Other case presentation features include links to key provisions of the CISG at issue, links that enable researchers to jump to other interpretations of the provisions of the uniform law that are reviewed in the case you are considering. These are links to other judicial and arbitral interpretations of these provisions by tribunals of different countries. Our case presentations also link to Annotated texts of Articles of the CISG <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/cisg/text/cisg-toc.html>. Our Annotated texts provide additional information on the provisions of the CISG of interest: information on their legislative history, on doctrine associated with these provisions, etc.

    • Case identification
    • UNCITRAL case abstract
    • Classification of issues present
    • Editorial remarks
    • Citations to other case abstracts, texts and commentaries
    • Text of case
    • English translation of text of case
  • The listings in the report below identify final texts of case translations and case translations that are still "second-iteration" texts, i.e., draft translations. These are underlined listings preceded by asterisks. Researchers may jump to these draft translations too. All such translations are, of course, accompanied by the caveat associated with any draft. Even so, we regard it as helpful to share our drafts with researchers anxious to access the most current information we have because, due to the caliber of scholars the programs have attracted, it has been our experience that further edits to second-iterations translations such as these have generally proved to be modest.
  • The following report also identifies still other case translations in process. Those listings are not underlined; researchers cannot now jump from them to the texts of in-process translations. These are "coming-attractions" we provide to identify case translations that have not yet progressed to the "second-iteration" stage of the process. For such listings, in lieu of providing links to drafts of translated texts, we simply report the cases to identify translations that will be made available at a future date. We do, however, provide links to presentations that contain other information on those cases: generally an abstract of the case, a link to the text of the case in its original language, and other relevant material on the case.

The entries in our country-by-country schedule of case presentations number over 3,000 <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/cisg/text/casecit.html>. The entries in the following report on English case texts and case translations number 1,885. This, of course, means we have many more cases to translate. With your help, we will increase the number of translated case texts we can offer to our profession. The date of the following report is 10 August 2015. Each of the 1,885 cases we report is identified by URL; researchers who wish to jump to these case texts and case translations may do so by clicking these URLs.