Should the UK Ratify UN CISG Essay


The United Nations formed the Convention dealing with Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) held on 11th April 1980, which is also known as Vienna Convention (Lookofsky & Bernstein 2008). This convention was a very important work that was started by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Laws (Martinussen 2006) in 1968, whose main aim was to develop international laws that would ensure equality of trade within the member states who subscribe to CISG, by adopting universal rules that regulate contracts for international sale of goods (Will 1994; 1998).

This convention was to consider the different socio-economic, geographical and legal background of the member states and to draw acceptable laws that would help remove the barriers, to international trade (Wang 2001). It was also to look at the workable transaction procedures through easy language that is easy to interpret, by all business people around the world. Other than preparing the international trade laws, the Commission also had the responsibility of promoting the acceptance of the new legal provisions, customs and practices and full collaboration with the organizations at the ground level (Friedland 2005; Rustad 2008) to ensure growth in the international trade (Groot & Franses 2005).

Should United Kingdom ratify the 1980 UN Convention on CISG?

Any country that intends to be a member if CISG— be bound by their terms must have the convention ratified by their government so that it can as well enjoy the benefits of the Convention as a state (Czaga 2004), but not as an individual household, or professional body. This is because the Convention is limited to the contracts between governments only, not including private sector like persons, families, and household and personal services. Based on the high number of benefits attributed to the Convention of 1980 (Czaga 2004). The United Kingdom should also ratify the convention to be among the many European Union nations, United States, African and Latin American nations that have already approved the CISG.

Becoming a member of the CISG does not require any financial commitment and obligations for the contracting states, but is however free and only needs approval by the government. Administration of the CISG at the domestic level as well does not entail any reporting obligations hence easy to manage because the states do not incur any setting up costs. For this reason, all nations including United Kingdom should consider joining the CISG conventions. One of the benefits that United Kingdom will enjoy once a member of the Convention is the easier trade with the neighbouring countries who are members of CISG bound by the international trade law to fulfill the contract as agreed. The convention protects both the buyer and the seller, to deliver all the goods in their right quality and quantity as outlined in the contract agreement and transferring the property in the goods to the buyer (Han 1989; ALsulaili 2004). If the selling party delivers goods earlier than the date stipulated in the contract, it is obliged to deliver any deficiency of quality and quantity as well as replacing the non-conforming goods (Will 1994; Zeller 2009).    

The buyer is as well obligated to timely pay the cost of goods delivered and to accept the property in the goods upon inspection and confirmation (Campbell 2006) that the goods meet the contractual standards. In case one of the parties faults the contract, the aggrieved party has the right to demand performance, claim for the damages caused, or totally withdrawn when there is fundamental breach of the contract (Chiang 1991). A proof of contract for sale does not need to be evidenced by a written document or form but may be proved by any means like use of witnesses (Han 1989). The convention also provides uniform rules and solutions for the breach of contract without favour. These rules will therefore improve efficiency in trade to the UK.

Risk management is another area clearly stipulated in the CISG, which protects buyers and sellers from damages of goods by either party. In case the goods are damaged before they are delivered to the particular destination or damaged due a mistake of omission, then the risk is passed to the seller who pays for the damage. Equally if the goods are damaged after delivery as contracted, then the risk is passed to the buyer (Honnold 1982; 1986). This is a positive clause that ensures that no parties become liable due to another party’s negligence. United Kingdom should then join since their interest will be protected.

This convention also provides a wide range of choice among the contracting states on where to buy or sell the goods without challenges of change of operating trade rules and guidelines. The member states are able to trade with different counties around the world but with common standards. This helps the friendly states to expand their market range and every nation has the freedom to choose contractual parties among the many members to trade with. The convention also allows for some declarations and reservations on certain clauses of the CISG, for particular states to be exempted from being bound by specific laws that are in conflict with their different systems of law governing contracts sale of goods in different areas within their territory. Some of the member states that have offered declarations upon ratifying the Convention are Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland declared that in accordance with paragraph 1 of article 92, they would not be bound by Part II of the Convention Formation of the Contract (Andersen & Crane 2009).

Upon approving  the Convention, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland,  declared, pursuant to article 94, paragraph 1 and 94, paragraph 2, that the Convention would not apply to contracts of sale where the parties have their places of business in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden (Schmidt, Godenhielm, Hellner, et al 1966). Equally, in a notification effected on 12 March 2003, Iceland declared, pursuant to article 94, paragraph 1, that the Convention would not apply to contracts of sale or to their formation where the parties had their places of business in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden (Schmidt, Godenhielm, Hellner, et al 1966).

 Germany also declared that it would not apply article 1, paragraph 1 (b) in respect of any nation that had made a reservation that they would not be bound by article 1, paragraph 1 (b) (Schmidt, Godenhielm, Hellner, et al 1966). This means that United Kingdom can as well ratify the 1980 Convention but offer declaration and reservations on certain parts of the convention that are inconsistent with any of their local laws that govern contracts related to the sale of goods, while maximizing on the international trade opportunity created by this convention to bid their economy.

The United Kingdom Sale of Goods Act 1979 was as well developed to safeguard the interest of the purchasers. It is to ensure that the seller has the right to sell the goods without coercion, that the goods sold are of satisfactory quality and that the goods sold to the buyer by description correspond to the original description (Sunil & Hariani 2000).It is also to see that the goods sold by sample match the goods in quality and provided warranty to give the buyer authority to claim for any loss caused by any undisclosed charge. It also outlines that the buyer can ask the seller to replace or repair damaged goods at the seller’s expense (Lookofsky & Bernstein 2008). The effect of SGA is that the buyer gets quality goods. However, it does not take into account the interests of the seller to ensure that the buyer does not breach the contract the case of 1980 CISG.

The 1980 Convention led to the establishment of International Humanitarian Law – Treaties and Documents during the convention on prohibition on the manufacture and use of conventional weapons that are considered to cause indiscriminate destructions and excessive injuries (Jafarzadeh1998; Janssen 2009; Jovanovic%u0301 2000). The convention also resolved that every state has a duty, in its international relations to desist from the threat to other countries or invade the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other way inconsistent with the role of the United Nations.

It also involve safeguarding civilians  against any  effects of hostilities that can be inflicted by  weapons that can cause vast, superfluous, long term excessive injuries and damages to the natural environment (Hecht 1984; Janssen & Meyer 2009; Ramberg 2000). The convention is also determined to sustain negotiations to end the arms race concerning the discovery and innovations of sophisticated weapons and to help develop confidence among all states, and to lead full disarmament by the use of very stringent and efficient international control (Blair1980), with a view to ending production, stockpiling and proliferation of such weapons. Such weapons include biological weapons that may cause massive destruction and land mines, some of which are poison gases that were manufactured by the British and nuclear mines that cause and long term injuries to the soldiers and civilians (Program and work paper 1985).

Use of laser technology as a weapon which produces beams of high radiations that can cause widespread destructions and incapacitation including temporary or permanent lose of sight through the exposure to the laser light beams and radiations. This will eventually lead to the achievement of the goal of peaceful coexistence of people and nations world over. The ratification on the convention by the United Kingdom will therefore make UK to be one of the lovers of world peace (Clark & Sohn 1960). United Kingdom needs security in her territory and the safety of her citizens against such destructive weapons.

This means that if all nations including the UK ratify the convection on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction (Sarcevic & Volken 1986), that was initiated in 1980, then all nations will be assured safety without such attacks. The United Nations Security Council which is the initiator of these conventions can authorize for invasion into any territory considered to be a threat to international peace, to be forced to withdraw the threats. This will be to the benefit of world peace (Spitzeck 2009; Silverburg 2011). The United Kingdom Sale of Goods Act of 1979 is also limited to protect the interests of the buyer only at the expense of the rights of the seller (Mark & Mance 1981). This therefore makes the 1980 convention CISG a better law since it is an international trade law that protects the rights of both the buyer and seller and is recognized by several countries in all the continents of the world (Homas 1980).

Effects of Ratification

Ratification of the Convention will bring positive economic growth and development in the United Kingdom. Specifically, approval of CISG will improve international trade under common rules and regulations stimulated the international trade law, between neighbouring countries like Denmark, France and Sweden (Bernstein & Lookofsky 2003). Nations that are members to the CISG are protected to ensure quality transactions based on the contact between the buyer and the seller. This makes the UK grow its GDP (Groot & Franses 2005) since it has wide range of partners to choose from. Having that United Kingdom is a major player the trade in the European Union it will become a major market of goods from the EU countries and beyond, as well as a major source of goods for the EU countries owing to their big GDP (Blair1980).

Norway as a member country to CISG

Norway in one on the member countries of CISG that ratified the conventions, because it was consistent with her need to have one uniform Act for all sales—both international and national commerce (Leisinger 2007). Its objective was to replace the outdated Act of sale of goods 1905-1907 with a modern one, which would preserve long term legal cooperation among the Nordic countries and improve their international trade with other states (Mark & Mance 1981). Norway is also a member state to the Hague convention of June 15,1955  and had to be consistent with the 1980 Convention to have a clear picture of the possible impact of international rules and regulations of trade (Blair 1980).

Norway had also been in the forefront in advocating for human rights and trying to prevent the invasion of other areas of the world (Alstadheim 1995 & Barquero 2010). Approval of the CISG will also improve international relations between the member states (Brooman 1990). It will encourage interstate economic investments and running of developmental activities in the foreign member countries. These good relations will also encourage share intellectual capacity where professional from one country are allowed to work and even study in another country (Arntzen & Bugge 1971) and be assured of no effects of use of destructing weapons that have long range impacts against them and their neighbors.


The United Nations Convention of 1980 on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) has a wide range of economic implications to the member states. Any economically growing country cannot be the producer and consumer of all the goods it produce. It is inevitable to rely on products and raw materials from other states. This then means that international trade is very important for the sustainability and growth of every country, whether as a universal consumer or universal producer (Lynch 2003). Based on this, the United Kingdom should consider ratifying the 1980 UN convention to be able to drive its economy much higher (Kranendonk & Verbruggen 2008).