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Peter Mazzacano

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Article 79; autonomous legal orders; CISG; Force Majeure; Frustration; German courts; homeward trend; Impossibility; international sales law; Private international law


This article analyzes the treatment of CISG Article 79 by the German courts. Indeed, as one of the most prolific adjudicators of CISG jurisprudence, there now exists a critical mass of case law on Article 79 in Germany. The focus on a specific CISG provision by a specific jurisdiction wields invaluable information about the treatment of Article 79 by that signatory state. It finds that German courts have played a preeminent role in the interpretation of Article 79. In particular, German courts have generally eschewed the “homeward trend” that has plagued a number of other signatory states. This is an important development towards a conceptual goal of functional uniformity to which the CISG aspires. It also demonstrates that a specific CISG article - Article 79 - can stand alone as an autonomous international principle, without being charged with competing domestic principles. Article 79 has thus evolved - at least in Germany - into an autonomous international norm. This development suggests that Article 79 is capable of creating relative uniformity within the context of the CISG’s goal for a sales law that is truly transnational in design.