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Vis Moot
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The Problem

Vis Style Guide

In lumine tuo videbimus lumen

CISG research links

Pace CISG Database the definitive CISG resource
CISG Online more CISG cases and materials
UNILEX cases under CISG and UNIDROIT Principles
UNCITRAL United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
UNIDROIT International Institute for the Unification of Private Law
CISG Canada some cases and papers

Main legal texts
1980 United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)
2004 UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts
1964 Uniform Laws on the International Sale of Goods (ULIS)

Supplemental legal texts
1983 Convention on Agency in the International Sale of Goods
1996 UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce with additional article 5 bis as adopted in 1998
1999 IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Commercial Arbitration

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CISG: the law and nothing but the law

In Vis, the law that governs the hypothetical contract (the "substantive" law) is always the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG), aka the Vienna Convention. The CISG was a treaty signed in Vienna in 1980 (hence the name) and came into force in 1988 after being ratified by 10 countries. The Vis moot was started to promote the CISG (and not just wiener schnitzel).

The CISG was written by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in the 1970s though it makes no mention of disco. It was based on a 1964 treaty, the Uniform Laws on the International Sale of Goods (ULIS). As with many treaties, CISG relied on compromise, especially between the common law and civil law countries and between the West and the Soviet bloc countries. Some of the fine points of CISG law turn on reading the drafting history and compromises between the delegates.

The CISG has been ratified by at least 70 countries that together account for three-quarters of world trade. This does not mean that three-quarters of international contracts are governed by the CISG. Countries may adopt the CISG with their own reservations, especially regarding writing requirements. To avoid this complication and any other peculiar features of national laws, the countries of the parties in the Vis Problem are hypothetical, usually some combination of Mediterraneo, Equatoriana, and Oceania. The dispute always takes place in Vindobona, Danubia (the old Roman name for Vienna).

Private parties are also free to adopt modified provisions of the CISG or other governing laws. One notable alternative or supplement to the CISG that private parties may adopt and, in a sense, the successor to the CISG, is the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts, written in 1994 then revised and enlarged in 2004. UNIDROIT, which somehow stands for the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, is an intergovernmental organization created to harmonize international commercial law. While not a treaty, the UNIDROIT Principles perform a similar role to the CISG in stating rules to govern international commercial contracts. In the US, the CISG is comparable to the Uniform Commercial Code whereas the UNIDROIT Principles are like the Restatements of Law by the American Law Institute. The UNIDROIT Principles cover some issues that are inadequately or not addressed at all in the CISG. As such, it provides persuasive, though not binding, authority for a moot based on the CISG.

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