This Sales Agreement contains the substantive rules for an international sales contract, i.e. the main rights and obligations of the Parties, the remedies for breach of contract by Buyer; the remedies for breach of contract by Seller
This model international Sales Agreement developed by the ITC contains the substantive rules for an international sales contract, i.e. the main rights and obligations of the Parties, the remedies for breach of contract by Buyer; the remedies for breach of contract by Seller; the general rules that apply equally to both parties. It also contains the boilerplate clauses broadly accepted in international commercial contracts.
The Model Contract is greatly influenced by the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG), widely accepted by lawyers of different traditions and backgrounds. It articulates practical requirements arising from commercial practice with the general rules of the CISG.
The Model Contract can be viewed as a general framework for the numerous types of sales contracts in international trade. In implementing it, the Parties should adapt it to the nature of each particular sales contract as well as to the specific requirements of the applicable law, where such requirements exist.
Attention is drawn on the following points:
1. The Model Contract for the International Sale of Goods is presented in two versions – the “standard” and the “short” one. The standard version contains definitions of relevant notions (i.e. on the concept of lack of conformity), special comments (i.e. on the notice of non-conformity), explanations and/or warnings to the Parties (i.e. on the limitation of Seller’s liability, on the validity of the agreed interest clause). The short version is more practice-oriented, covering the main rights and obligations of the Parties with no special explanations. In addition, the short version contains only selected boilerplate clauses, whereas the standard version provides for all the boilerplate clauses inserted in other Model Contracts of this handbook.
2. The Model Contract can be divided into four parts. The first part lays down rules on the Goods: Delivery, price, payment conditions and documents to be provided. The second part governs the remedies of Seller in case of non-payment at the agreed time; the remedies of Buyer in case of non-delivery of goods at the agreed time, lack of conformity of goods, transfer of property and legal defects. The third part contains the rules on avoidance of contract and damages − grounds for avoidance of contract, avoidance procedure, effects of avoidance in general, as well as rules on restitution, damages and mitigation of harm. The fourth part contains the standard provisions.
3. The Model Contract adopts the CISG concept of lack of conformity. This concept is wider than the concept of material defects (traditionally adopted in civil law countries) and includes differences in quality, as well as differences in quantity, delivery of goods of different kinds and defects in packing. Nevertheless, specific cases of non-conformity defined under the CISG largely correspond to how material defects are defined in civil law countries. Such cases include unsuitability of the Goods for ordinary purpose or for particular purpose, as well as non-conformity with a sample or model.
Liability of Seller for non-conformity is dealt with almost identically under the CISG and most national rules dealing with liability of Seller for material defects. Furthermore, in the system of the CISG, “non-delivery” and “lack of conformity” are strictly separate forms of breach of contract. The same system is adopted in this Model Contract, specifying: a) special rules on remedies of Buyer in case of non-delivery at the agreed time; b) special rules on remedies of Buyer in case of non-conformity of goods; c) general rules on contract avoidance due to non-performance of contractual obligations.
4. On contract avoidance (the term “avoidance” of contract, also taken from the CISG, means termination of contract), the Model Contract uses the CISG concept of fundamental breach of contract, but with significant modifications. The Model Contract first of all defines cases that constitute a breach of contract (where a party fails to perform any of its obligations under the contract, including defective, partial or late performance). On that basis, the Model Contract establishes the rules for two different situations.
First is the case where the breach of contract amounts to a fundamental breach. That would be the case where strict compliance of the obligation which has not been performed is of the essence under the contract; or where non-performance substantially deprives the aggrieved party of what it was reasonably entitled to expect. The Model Contract also leaves the possibility for the Parties to specify cases which are to be considered as a fundamental breach, i.e. late payment, late delivery, non-conformity, etc. In the case of a fundamental breach, the Model Contract allows the aggrieved party to declare the contract void, without fixing an additional period of time to perform what is specified in the contract.
In the second situation, the breach of contract does not amount to a fundamental breach. The aggrieved party is obliged to fix an additional period of time for performance. Only when the other party fails to perform the obligation within that period, may the aggrieved party declare the contract void. The Model Contract adopts the CISG rule: A declaration of avoidance is effective only if made by notice to the other party.
5. The clause on applicable law of the Model Contract is specific to the international sale of goods. It specifies that questions that are not regulated by the contract itself are governed by the CISG. Questions not covered by the CISG are governed by the UNIDROIT Principles; and to the extent that such questions are not covered by the UNIDROIT Principles, they are governed by reference to the national law chosen by the Parties. Concerning the application of the CISG, one should note that the Parties may exclude the CISG in whole or only in part. The Parties may also agree on rules that modify, replace, or supplement those of the CISG.
6. The main sources of uniform contract law used in drafting the present Model Contract are the following: United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG); Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods (ULIS); UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts; Principles of European Contract Law (PECL); ITC Model Contract for the International Commercial Sale of Perishable Goods; ICC Model International Sale Contract – Manufactured Goods Intended for Resale.
The model International Sales Agreement for the sale of (movable) goods can also be downloaded from the ITC website (if you download it here, you may not commercialize it.)