n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - The Vienna Sales Convention and gap-filling

Volume 2012, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0257-7747
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2207



The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (known as the CISG or Vienna Sales Convention) is an important international uniform substantive law convention that currently has 77 member states representative of all legal traditions. The CISG's scope of application is demarcated in article 1(1), which provides that it is applicable to contracts for the sale of goods between parties who have places of business in different states either (a) when the states are contracting states or (b) when the rules of private international law lead to the application of the law of a contracting state.

South Africa is currently not a CISG member state. However, the convention is of great significance for this country and its merchants, since most of South Africa's largest trading partners are CISG contracting states.
Article 7(2) of the CISG provides that "[q]uestions concerning matters governed by this Convention which are not expressly settled in it are to be settled in conformity with the general principles on which it is based or, in the absence of such principles, in conformity with the law applicable by virtue of the rules of private international law".
Article 7(2) of the CISG is most commonly referred to as the gap-filling provision of the convention. The main reason for including this provision in the CISG is the fact that it would be impossible to draft a convention covering a topic as wide as contracts for the international sale of goods and not leave any gaps. The possible permutations in such contracts are endless, and it would not have been possible for the drafters to foresee all these permutations. Furthermore, the CISG represents a compromise between divergent legal traditions, and it would have been impossible to achieve complete uniformity and consensus on all legal principles concerning contracts for the international sale of goods. The gap-filling provision also serves the purpose of adjusting the convention to new developments not foreseen by its drafters. As Schlechtriem pointed out, the CISG "reflects the state of knowledge and experience up to 1980 only; its drafters did not and could not foresee new technical and economic developments such as electronic communication and contracts involving software. Gap-filling, therefore, becomes an instrument of developing the convention and adjusting it to new needs." Adaptability and flexibility are vital characteristics of an instrument "that attempts to deal with a subject matter as fluid and dynamic as international trade".

Die Weense Koopverdrag het tans 77 lidlande en is 'n invloedryke internasionale verdrag in die veld van internasionale handel in roerende goedere. Indien van toepassing, beheers die verdrag kontraksluiting sowel as die regte en verpligtinge van die partye tot 'n internasionale koopkontrak. Ingevolge artikel 7(2) van die Weense Koopverdrag, moet aangeleenthede wat deur die verdrag beheers word, maar waarvoor die verdrag nie afdoende oplossings bied nie, opgelos word met verwysing na die algemene beginsels waarop die verdrag gebaseer is, of, by gebrek aan laasgenoemde, met verwysing na die regstelsel van toepassing ingevolge die reëls van die internasionale privaatreg. Hierdie artikel is op interne leemtes in die verdrag van toepassing. Die aanwending van artikel 7(2) het in praktyk tot verskeie vraagstukke aanleiding gegee. Leemtes in die verdrag moet eerstens onderskei word van aangeleenthede wat buite die verdrag se trefwydte val. Die skeidslyn tussen leemtes en uitsluitings is dikwels vaag. Tweedens bestaan daar nie konsensus oor die bronne van algemene beginsels wat vir die vul van leemtes aangewend mag word nie. Derdens bestaan daar ook onduidelikheid oor die metode van aanwending van algemene beginsels om leemtes in die verdrag te vul. Laastens heers daar onenigheid oor wanneer leemtes met verwysing na die regstelsel van toepassing ingevolge die reëls van die internasionale privaatreg gevul moet word. Hierdie aangeleenthede kan 'n beduidende invloed op die toepassing van die Weense Koopverdrag hê en word in hierdie artikel ontleed.

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