for Albert H. Kritzer CISG Database

of the Institute of International Commercial Law

at Pace University Law School

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A Uniform International Sales Law Terminology
Vikki M. Rogers  *  and Albert H. Kritzer  **    1 

V. Addendum: A Further Illustration of the Structure of an Information Retrieval Thesaurus

The construction of an information retrieval thesaurus will create a fixed international sales law vocabulary that can be used for indexing materials on the subject. It will ensure uniformity in the use of terminology in indexes, and [page 249] also forms the basis for the architecture of the index as it has mapped out the hierarchical relationships among descriptors.

The thesaurus would provide the underpinning for the sets of descriptors that open up tailored access to broad ranges of international sales law materials.

A myriad of issues arise during the thesaurus' creation, however, because different terms are used in different legal instruments to represent the same legal concepts and/or the same term exists within a single instrument to connote several legal concepts.

The following chart illustrates this, focusing on the term "avoidance." Avoidance of a contract is a legal remedy to stop performance of the contract under Articles 49 and 64 of the CISG. This remedy may be invoked by one party when the other party has committed a fundamental breach of contract or, in certain cases, failed to perform within an additional fixed period of time. Simply put, it is a cancellation of the contract. "Avoidance of the contract," however, is not a term found in domestic laws, it is a term created by the drafters of the CISG. The term "avoid" is found in other international instruments as well (yet, within a different legal context). Moreover, different terminology is used in other international instruments to represent a legal concept that is similar to the CISG's concept of "avoidance." The chart illustrates the various terms that exist to represent similar legal concepts, or simply cause confusion:

{t~h} CISG | UNIDROIT Principles | PECL | Domestic Law Avoidance of contract | Termination of contract | Termination of contract | Article 49 | Article 7.1.5 | Article 8:106 | Rescission Article 64 | Article 7.3.1 | Article 9:301 | Repudiation | | | Renunciation | | | Termination | | | Cancelation | | | Cancellation | | | Rejection | | | Revocation Agreement to terminate Contract | Agreement to terminate contract | | Article 29 | Article 3.2 | | | Avoidance of contract | Avoidance of contract | Nullity actions | Article 3.5 | Article 4:103 | | Article 3.7 | Article 4:107 | | Article 3.8 | Article 4:108 | | Article 3.9 | Article 4:109 | | Article 3.10 | | | Article 3.11 | | | | Avoidance of term | | | Article 4:110 | | | |

Looking at the chart from left to right, the terms that are in "bold" have the same legal meaning, but are represented by different words. The terms that are "italicized" do not necessarily have the same legal meaning as these "bolded" terms, but are domestic terms that might be used to get to the legal concepts represented by the terms from the three international instruments ("bolded" terms).

The following illustrates how the thesaurus could create a structure for these sets of descriptors and decipher the relationships between the terms from varying sources.

Thesaurus Codes and Relationship Indicators:

Standard thesaurus codes:

BT = Broader term

NT = Narrower term

RT = Related term

SN = Scope note


UF = Used for

Legal codes:

CISG = CISG Article

PECL = Principles of European Contract Law Article

UNIDROIT Priniciples = UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts Article

avoidance of contract (CISG)

    CISG:                   49
    SN:                      In case of fundamental breach or non-performance in additional period of time.
    UF:                      cancelation of contract [page 251]
                             cancellation of contract
                             effective avoidance of contract
                             ipso facto avoidance of contract
                             rejection of contract
                             repudiation of contract
                             resolution of contract
                             revocation of acceptance
                             termination of contract
    BT:                      avoidance (commercial law)
                             remedies (commercial law)
    NT:                      avoidance of contract by buyer (CISG)
                             avoidance of non-conforming installment (CISG)
                             avoidance of contract by seller (CISG)
                             partial avoidance of contract (CISG)
    RT:                      notice of avoidance of contract (CISG)
                             termination of contract (UNIDROIT Principles, PECL)

termination of contract

    U:                       agreement to terminate contract (CISG)
                             avoidance of contract (CISG)

termination of contract (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)

    UNIDROIT Principles:     7.1.5
    PECL:                   8:106
    SN:                     In case of fundamental breach or non-performance in additional period of time.
    BT:                     remedies (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)
    RT:                      avoidance of contract (CISG)
                             notice of termination of contract (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)

agreement to terminate contract (CISG, UNIDROIT Principles)

    CISG                     29
    BT:                      agreements (law)
    NT:                      oral agreement to terminate contract (CISG, UNIDROIT Principles)
                             written agreement to terminate contract (CISG, UNIDROIT Principles)
    RT:                      avoidance of contract (CISG)
                             release from contractual obligations [page 252]

avoidance of contract (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)

    PECL:                    4:103
    UNIDROIT Principles:     3.2
    SN:                      In case of relevant mistake, fraud, unjustified threat,
                               gross disparity, third party fraud,
                               threat, gross disparity or mistake.
    UF:                      nullity actions
    BT:                      avoidance
    NT:                      avoidance of contract by buyer (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)
                             avoidance of contract by seller (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)
                             partial avoidance of contract (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)
    RT:                      avoidance of term (PECL)
                             termination of contract (PECL, UNIDROIT Principles)

[page 253]

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