U.N. Sales Convention Holdouts

October 11, 2010, 11:19 AM

If one scans the list of contracting states, one will notice prominent holdouts, including Brazil, Great Britain, India, Ireland, South Africa, and Taiwan. (Japan, on the other hand, finally became the 71st contracting state when it acceded to the Sales Convention effective on August 1, 2009.) Why have a handful of important trading countries balked at adopting the Sales Convention when the other significant economies of the world (and many insignificant ones too) have embraced it? Great Britain, for example, apparently believes that its renowned common law and supplemental domestic legislation are superior to the U.N. Sales Convention, a smugness that the British may continue to indulge in the absence of any compelling evidence that their economy is suffering damage due to this legal aloofness. However, I find this diffidence on the part of the British to be curious given their historic obsession with maintaining London as a center of international commerce and as a preferred forum for international litigation and arbitration. Although the London Court of International Arbitration has long served as a popular arbitration venue among internationally active businesses, one might assume that commercial parties would become increasingly reluctant to choose London as the location to arbitrate a dispute governed by the U.N. Sales Convention, since practitioners located there would presumably have less familiarity with the animating principles and specific legal rules embraced in the Sales Convention. Charles V. McPhillips