A Pluralist Approach to the Law of International Sales

  • Juana Coetzee Stellenbosch University
Keywords: Global legal pluralism, unified law, legal harmonisation, international sales, international contracts

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 The Proposal for a Common European Sales Law (CESL) was recently withdrawn, and now Britain has voted to leave the European Union; rumour having it that more countries might follow.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.      

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Author Biography

Juana Coetzee, Stellenbosch University
BA LLB LLM LLD (Stellenbosch University), Associate Professor, Department of Mercantile Law, University of Stellenbosch

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
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Published
2017-04-03
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