CISG Translation Issues: Reducing Legal Babelism

20 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2012 Last revised: 17 Sep 2015

See all articles by Claire M. Germain

Claire M. Germain

Cornell University - Law School; University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: June 15, 2012


The CISG (Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods) has remarkably facilitated commercial transactions across boundaries and different legal systems. This article, to be published as a Book Chapter, discusses some possible difficulties caused by using different languages, or words which might be interpreted differently, and some solutions and ways to deal with these difficulties. Three kinds of issues have appeared: the first has to do with drafting issues, and the peculiar problem of the six official languages of the Convention. The second set of issues deals with the interpretation of the Convention and the so-called homeward trend. The third set of issues consists of contract problems among the parties involving translated documents, documents written in a language not understood by one of the parties, or by the court in charge of the litigation. Even though there is a rich literature on these issues, language and translation issues do not seem to have caused major problems in the application of the CISG, at least from the reported cases in the various databases available.

Keywords: International Sales, Transnational Law, International Law, Comparative Law, French Law, CISG (Convention for the International Sale of Goods) Language, Translation

JEL Classification: K12, K33

Suggested Citation

Germain, Claire M. and Germain, Claire M., CISG Translation Issues: Reducing Legal Babelism (June 15, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Claire M. Germain (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

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