Exemptions of Contract Liability Under the 1980 United Nations Convention01 Jan 1990
This article will primarily discuss the United Nations Sales Convention. In interpreting the Convention, the central problem is to what extent Article 79 of the Convention will apply to the various cases. Does it apply only to cases of "force majeure" or "impossibility," i.e., cases in which there is a barrier that prevents performance or makes it impracticable? Or does it apply to cases of "frustration" or "imprévision," i.e., cases in which there is no barrier but the circumstances are radically changed because of a contingency contrary to the basic assumption on which the contract was made? Even if Article 79 does not deal with the latter cases, a question still arises: Does Article 79 exclude such grounds for excuses, or is this problem left to domestic laws or liberal contract construction? The interpretation of concepts such as "impediment," "beyond his control," and "unforeseen" is also a problem.
The Suez Cases will also be examined because the losses resulting from the blocking of the Canal led to important and difficult litigation about the exemption of contract obligations. Since these cases were originally decided under British and United States laws, the theories of frustration in those countries will initially be discussed.