Advanced

THE ROLE OF GOOD FAITH IN INTERNATIONAL LAW - Particularly under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

Ström, Josefin LU (2012) JURM02 20121
Department of Law
Abstract
The principle of good faith has been described as one of the most debated concepts of the CISG and is also the main subject of this thesis. Since Article 7 is the only article of the CISG expressly mentioning good faith it has served as the base for this study.

An examination of four different countries confirms that the dilemma of good faith originates from the fact that it is a concept known and applied differently in different countries. For example the concept of good faith is well-established in Germany, but has no general recognition in English law. Therefore, it is no surprise that it was only after pro-longed negotiations that the drafters of the CISG managed to agree on the role of good faith. The critics long opposed its... (More)
The principle of good faith has been described as one of the most debated concepts of the CISG and is also the main subject of this thesis. Since Article 7 is the only article of the CISG expressly mentioning good faith it has served as the base for this study.

An examination of four different countries confirms that the dilemma of good faith originates from the fact that it is a concept known and applied differently in different countries. For example the concept of good faith is well-established in Germany, but has no general recognition in English law. Therefore, it is no surprise that it was only after pro-longed negotiations that the drafters of the CISG managed to agree on the role of good faith. The critics long opposed its inclusion and argued that the concept was too vague, too uncertain and even superfluous. Finally however, good faith was included in CISG Article 7.1, but only as a tool for interpretation of the CISG itself. Said article also states that when interpreting the Convention, uniformity and the international character of the CISG shall be observed and promoted. The underlying idea of the latter element is that the interpreter at all times must refrain from applying any domestic standards. Whether courts have managed to comply with this for the purpose of good faith under the CISG, will be particularly addressed in this thesis.

Even though Article 7.1 establishes the importance of uniformity and that good faith only is to be observed in the interpretation of the Convention, at least three different understandings of good faith’s role under the CISG exist. All three of these are represented in both the jurisprudence of the CISG as well as in international doctrine on the subject.

Under the first interpretation, CISG Article 7.1 is read literally and only allows the decision maker to observe good faith in the interpretation of the Convention. According to the second alternative, good faith in Article 7.1 is addressed to the parties of the contract as well, and therefore imposes positive duties upon the parties. The third understanding is that good faith is a general principle that underlies the Convention by virtue of Article 7.2. From a party perspective the existing non-coherent jurisprudence on good faith might cause problems. Will parties be held to a positive duty of good faith or not?

Clearly, there are arguments for all three understandings. However, this thesis will advocate that extending CISG Article 7.1 to include a party-oriented duty of good faith would frustrate the intention and the compromise reached by the drafters. Establishing a general principle of good faith by virtue of Article 7.2 on the other hand, will not. The final conclusion is therefore that the drafters of the CISG indeed opened up for a duty of good faith, but not as a hidden positive duty in Article 7.1, but rather as an underlying general principle for the purpose of Article 7.2. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Good faith har beskrivits som en av de mest omdebatterade principerna i CISG och är också det ämne som denna uppsats behandlar. Eftersom artikel 7 är det enda stället i CISG där good faith uttryckligen omnämns har uppsatsen tagit sin utgångspunkt i denna artikel.

En studie av fyra olika länder har bekräftat att det dilemma som är förknippat med good faith härrör från det faktum att principen tillämpas olika i olika länder. Tysk rätt har till exempel en väl etablerad princip om good faith medan engelsk rätt intar en skeptisk ställning till principens tillämpning. Det är därför inte överraskande att det tog lång tid innan CISG:s upphovsmän lyckades komma överens om vilken roll good faith skulle spela under CISG. Kritikerna menade att... (More)
Good faith har beskrivits som en av de mest omdebatterade principerna i CISG och är också det ämne som denna uppsats behandlar. Eftersom artikel 7 är det enda stället i CISG där good faith uttryckligen omnämns har uppsatsen tagit sin utgångspunkt i denna artikel.

En studie av fyra olika länder har bekräftat att det dilemma som är förknippat med good faith härrör från det faktum att principen tillämpas olika i olika länder. Tysk rätt har till exempel en väl etablerad princip om good faith medan engelsk rätt intar en skeptisk ställning till principens tillämpning. Det är därför inte överraskande att det tog lång tid innan CISG:s upphovsmän lyckades komma överens om vilken roll good faith skulle spela under CISG. Kritikerna menade att principen om good faith var för vag, för osäker och till och med överflödig. Slutligen togs dock good faith med, men enbart som ett rekvisit att ta hänsyn till vid tolkningen av själva konventionen. Övriga rekvisit i artikel 7.1 är att tolkningen av CISG ska ske uniformt och att CISG:s internationella karaktär måste beaktas i alla lägen. Idén bakom det sistnämnda villkoret är att den som tolkar konventionen måste distansera sig ifrån nationella standarder. Huruvida nationella domstolar har lyckats i detta avseende är något som särskilt kommer att behandlas i denna uppsats.

Även om artikel 7.1 slår fast vikten av en uniform tolkning och att good faith måste beaktas, återfinns åtminstone tre olika sätt att se på good faith i rättspraxis och i den internationella doktrinen.

Enligt den första tolkningen ska artikel 7.1 läsas bokstavligen och enbart tillåta beslutsfattaren att beakta good faith vid tolkningen av konventionen som sådan. Andra menar att good faith i artikel 7.1 även är adresserat till parterna och därmed ålägger dem att agera i enlighet med principen. Enligt det tredje alternativet är good faith snarare en av de allmänna principer som ligger till grund för konventionen i enlighet med artikel 7.2. Från ett partsperspektiv kan osäkerheten i praxis innebära problem. Kräver CISG att parterna ska agera i enlighet med principen om good faith eller inte?

Det är tydligt att det finns argument till förmån för alla dessa tre sätt att tolka good faith på. Denna uppsats kommer dock att förespråka att en utvidgning av artikel 7.1 till att inkludera en partsorienterad skyldighet att agera i enlighet med good faith inte är att föredra. En sådan tillämpning skulle stå i direkt strid med konventionens förarbeten och ordalydelsen i artikel 7.1. Att tillämpa good faith i enlighet med artikel 7.2 är däremot mer legitimt. Slutsatsen är därmed att good faith i CISG bäst förstås som en av de allmänna principer som ligger till grund för konventionen. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Ström, Josefin LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20121
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Avtalsrätt, förmögenhetsrätt
language
English
id
2439079
date added to LUP
2012-08-31 14:03:39
date last changed
2012-08-31 14:03:39
@misc{2439079,
  abstract     = {The principle of good faith has been described as one of the most debated concepts of the CISG and is also the main subject of this thesis. Since Article 7 is the only article of the CISG expressly mentioning good faith it has served as the base for this study. 

An examination of four different countries confirms that the dilemma of good faith originates from the fact that it is a concept known and applied differently in different countries. For example the concept of good faith is well-established in Germany, but has no general recognition in English law. Therefore, it is no surprise that it was only after pro-longed negotiations that the drafters of the CISG managed to agree on the role of good faith. The critics long opposed its inclusion and argued that the concept was too vague, too uncertain and even superfluous. Finally however, good faith was included in CISG Article 7.1, but only as a tool for interpretation of the CISG itself. Said article also states that when interpreting the Convention, uniformity and the international character of the CISG shall be observed and promoted. The underlying idea of the latter element is that the interpreter at all times must refrain from applying any domestic standards. Whether courts have managed to comply with this for the purpose of good faith under the CISG, will be particularly addressed in this thesis. 

Even though Article 7.1 establishes the importance of uniformity and that good faith only is to be observed in the interpretation of the Convention, at least three different understandings of good faith’s role under the CISG exist. All three of these are represented in both the jurisprudence of the CISG as well as in international doctrine on the subject. 

Under the first interpretation, CISG Article 7.1 is read literally and only allows the decision maker to observe good faith in the interpretation of the Convention. According to the second alternative, good faith in Article 7.1 is addressed to the parties of the contract as well, and therefore imposes positive duties upon the parties. The third understanding is that good faith is a general principle that underlies the Convention by virtue of Article 7.2. From a party perspective the existing non-coherent jurisprudence on good faith might cause problems. Will parties be held to a positive duty of good faith or not?

Clearly, there are arguments for all three understandings. However, this thesis will advocate that extending CISG Article 7.1 to include a party-oriented duty of good faith would frustrate the intention and the compromise reached by the drafters. Establishing a general principle of good faith by virtue of Article 7.2 on the other hand, will not. The final conclusion is therefore that the drafters of the CISG indeed opened up for a duty of good faith, but not as a hidden positive duty in Article 7.1, but rather as an underlying general principle for the purpose of Article 7.2.},
  author       = {Ström, Josefin},
  keyword      = {Avtalsrätt,förmögenhetsrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {THE ROLE OF GOOD FAITH IN INTERNATIONAL LAW - Particularly under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods},
  year         = {2012},
}