Institute of International
Commercial Law

International Sales Law Thesaurus Project

Knowledge is of two kinds, we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.

 - John West, 23 Am. L. Rev. 396 (1889)

Although the LIIC concerns international commerce generally, the LIIC does not intend to create one controlled vocabulary for the entire subject field. Rather, pieces of the subject will be chiseled from the larger topic. For example, international sales law is the first subject for which the LIIC will develop a thesaurus. Once the thesaurus is developed, the LIIC will decide whether it is appropriate to build another aspect of international commerce (e.g., carriage of goods, payment mechanisms, or arbitration) into the sales law vocabulary, or whether a separate vocabulary should be created that would borrow terms from the international sales law thesaurus, where appropriate. As the LIIC is tackling the entire subject field in sections, it is also best situated to consider issues of thesaurus integration (i.e., the compatibility and overlapping of independent thesauri) as it continues to expand the subject scope.

International sales law was chosen as the first project because (1) reference materials on that subject are readily available, given the efforts by various institutes and organizations to collect and disseminate materials on the subject; (2) the number of cases and commentaries currently available on the subject is manageable; and (3) there is anticipated growth in the subject area, justifying the creation of a thesaurus. The anticipated growth is based on the tracked activity of the CISG Database and anticipated increase in international trade. During the last two decades there has been sizable growth in the number of cases and commentaries that address international sales law as well as significant efforts to collect and digest the materials for judges, practitioners and academics. For example, the Case Law Digest by Prof. Michael Will published in 2000, reported 683 cases on the CISG. By 2010, the CISG Database reported over 2,500 case presentations. The bibliography currently boasts almost 9,000 entries.

More compelling, however, is the increased demand for this information. For example, in 1999 the CISG Database received an average of 100,000 internet hits per month. In 2009, the CISG Database commenced to average 100,000 internet hits per day. Whether the primary source for these hits be judges, practitioners, academics, or students, the numbers disclose that there is a demand for information on international sales law.

As it is reasonable to assume that international trade will continue to expand, it is prudent to plan options for the organization and retrieval of increased cases and commentaries on the subject. In addition, the Institute of International Commercial Law has led a related initiative to translate court decisions on the CISG into English, increasing the depth of information available for a global jurisconsultorium. The translation program was launched in 2001, and already includes over 1,750 cases.

Given the anticipated growth and demand for information on international sales law, as well as the desire to promote a global jurisconsultorium, there is a need to develop a thesaurus for improved information handling. As such, the International Sales Law Thesaurus Project has been designated as the first project of the LIIC. The thesaurus is intended to be the definitive vocabulary for international sales law that will be used to index materials on the subject.

For further information, please see "A Uniform International Sales Law Terminology" by Vikki M. Rogers and Albert H. Kritzer

©Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated March 5, 2010