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A law for international sale of goods

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Commercial sale of goods transactions are remarkably diverse, ranging from the sale of precision, manufactured goods, where negotiations and post-delivery trials may be complex, to the sale of commodities such as grain and oil, which take place in impersonal and expedited circumstances. The market background may be stable, as in the former case, or highly volatile, as in the latter case. This article concentrates on the differences between these two types of sale and assesses the suitability of two instruments for dealing with them. One instrument is the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods 1980, which has been widely adopted by nations all round the world. The other is the United Kingdom Sale of Goods Act 1979, which is replicated in substance in the Hong Kong Sale of Goods Ordinance (Cap 26). English law plays a dominant role as the law applicable to commodity sales whose performance is in no way connected to England. Commodity traders have resisted the application of the United Nations Convention. Comparing the merits and limitations of the two instruments, the article concludes that the United Nations Convention may be better suited for the sale of manufactured goods and the Sale of Goods Act (with a well-established case law) for commodity sales.

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