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what should we make of the proposed "Common European Sales Law"?

14 October 2011

A proposal for a common sales law across the 27 states of the EU to anyone opting into its terms has just been published. Does this signify a major development for businesses entering contracts throughout the EU?

In the short term, I confess, I doubt it – for one thing there already exists a voluntary piece of sales legislation to which businesses could opt-in if they wanted. I am of course referring to the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG), to which 76 countries have already signed up (with some notable exceptions such as the UK, India and Brazil).

An advantage the new EU instrument could have over the CISG however is a single supreme court (the ECJ) to determine how it should be interpreted. Over the long term we may yet all need to learn how it works alongside national contract law. I’ll certainly be watching to see how it develops.

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