A Pluralist Approach to the Law of International Sales

Juana Coetzee

Abstract


International trade can support economic development and social upliftment. However, people are often discouraged from contracting internationally due to differences in legal systems which act as a non-tariff barrier to trade. This article focuses on the private law framework regulating international contracts of sale. During the twentieth century, the problem of diverse laws was primarily addressed by global uniform law such as the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). However, uniform law is rarely complete and has to be supplemented by national law, trade usage or party agreement. Because of gaps that exist in the CISG the Swiss government made a proposal for a new global contract law. But is this a feasible solution to the fragmentary state of international trade law? In Europe, signs of reluctance are setting in towards further harmonisation efforts. The Proposal for a Common European Sales Law (CESL) was recently withdrawn, and now Britain has voted to leave the European Union; rumour having it that more countries might follow. The current private law framework for international sales contracts consists of a hybrid system where international, national, state and non-state law function side by side. This article submits that universalism is not per se the most efficient approach to the regulation of international sales law and that economic forces require a more varied approach for business-to-business transactions. The biggest challenge, however, would be to manage global legal pluralism. It is concluded that contractual parties, the courts and arbitral tribunals can effectively manage pluralism on a case-by-case basis.        


Keywords


Global legal pluralism; unified law; legal harmonisation; international sales; international contracts

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References


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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

Am J Comp L American Journal of Comparative Law

Can Bus LJ Canadian Business Law Journal

Chi J Int’l L Chicago Journal of International Law

CESL Common European Sales Law

CISG United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, 1980

Cornell Int’l LJ Cornell International Law Journal

EU European Union

FOSFA The Federation of Oils, Seeds, and Fats Association

GAFTA The Grain and Feed Trade Association

Ger Law J German Law Journal

Hague Principles Hague Conference on Private International Law Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts

Int’l Comp LQ International Comparative Law Quarterly

Int’l Law The International Lawyer

DCFR Draft Common Frame of Reference

OHADA Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Laws in Africa

PACL Principles of Asian Contract Law

PECL Principles of European Contract Law

PICC Principles of International Commercial Contracts

PLDC Principles of Latin American Contract Law

RabelsZ Rabels Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht

S Cal L Rev Southern California Law Review

RSA The Refine Sugar Association

Texas LR Texas Law Review

UNCITRAL United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

UNIDROIT Institute for the Harmonisation of Private Law

Unif L Rev Uniform Law Review

UCC American Uniform Commercial Code

UCP Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits

ULF Uniform Law on the Formation of Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

ULIS Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods

UN United Nations

USA United States of America

Vill L Rev Villanova Law Review




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2017/v20i0a1355

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