Nominating Manfred Forberich: The Worst CISG Decision in 25 Years?
The Vindobona Journal of International Commercial Law & Arbitration, Vol. 9, p. 199, 2005
10 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2008 Last revised: 2 Feb 2009
The co-authors propose awarding a Razzie' award for the worst decision on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods ("CISG") to the U.S. (federal) district court decision in Raw Materials Inc. v. Manfred Forberich GmbH. We argue the Razzie is deserved because of the decision's bald-faced violation of the interpretational methodology required (as a matter of U.S. treaty obligations) in approaching the CISG - specifically, its use of U.S. domestic law as a guide to interpreting the Convention, in clear violation of the requirement in CISG Article 7(1) that the treaty be interpreted from an international perspective and with a view to maintaining uniform application wherever the Convention is appli8ed.
The co-authors had previously outlined certain criteria for assessing the 'precedential value' of individual CISG decisions rendered by national courts; in this piece we combine our criteria in a short-list of five points (Section 2). On that basis, we explain why we would nominate the recent Forberich decision for the dubious worse-case distinction (Section 3). We argue for the nomination despite the stiff competition at the bottom of the CISG barrel, and despite the fact that the Manfred Forberich decision is no 'shoo-in' in light of how the case might have been decided if better (more persuasive) reasoning had been applied (Section 4). Lastly, we discuss how the more serious aspects of our (tongue-in-cheek) exercise might be of relevance for legal educators and the future practice of CISG law in the courts.
Keywords: International Sales, Sales Convention, United Nations Sales Convention, CISG, United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, UNCITRAL, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Raw Materials Inc. v. Manfred Forberich GmbH, domestic law and the CISG, Article 7
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