United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods


Hello! Today, we’re going to talk about one of the most successful international treaties, something that affects your life every day. You probably never heard of it. It’s called the United Nations Convention on the International sale of goods. What is a good? It’s something like a diamond or a tennis racket that you can buy from somebody. But, it’s not a service like legal services. So, if you are buying or selling through international trade – something like a diamond or a tennis racket then this treaty is going to apply. Now, it is a treaty but it has been adopted by the United States and 91 other nations and that means that if you’re trading with one of these nations and you haven’t opted out of the treaty, then this law is going to apply. It does have some important differences between what we think of as the common American law. The first of these is that there is no statute of frauds. So in the United States some contracts must be in writing and that’s not the case here under international law. Second, that the Parole Evidence Rule does not apply and what that means is that in the United States you can’t put in evidence of your prior negotiations unless there is some ambiguity in the contract and that’s not the case here. And then finally every contract has an obligation of good faith, meaning honesty in your dealing with somebody else and So those are the three big differences. Now one other thing to consider is since this treaty is is so broad, It applies to contracts for the international sale of goods, how does that apply to torts? (meaning a wrong behavior that I commit against you) Can you get extra damages because I did something wrong and the answer is “we’re not entirely sure”. So the the treaty itself says it doesn’t apply to liability of the seller for death or injury arising out of this product, but what about other kinds of business torts – meaning one business does something bad to another? Well no Circuit Court or Supreme Court case has yet ruled on this and the best case I found is one out of Arkansas – the electric craft versus super electric motors case in which pertains to the sale of defective Chinese refrigerator motors. And in that case the judge found that some kinds of torts were barred by the treaty and some weren’t. So I would say, stay tuned and we’ll all learn a lot more about this treaty in the future. Thank you!