[For more current case annotated texts by this author, see Bernstein & Lookofsky, Understanding the CISG in Europe, 2d ed. (2003) and Lookofsky, Understanding the CISG in the USA, 2d ed. (2004).]
1. Consumer Sales
59. Article 2 of the CISG provides that the Convention does not apply to the kinds of 'sales' specified in Article 2, paragraphs (a)-(f).
Taking a closer look at the first excluded item, we note that the Convention does not apply to sales: [page 38]
Many States have enacted special statutes designed to protect the rights of consumers who buy goods for 'personal, family or household use,' etc. By virtue of the applicable private international law (choice-of-law) rules, such consumer-protection statutes are also likely to be applied so as to protect the interests of consumers who enter 'international' (consumer) sales contracts, e.g., when they purchase goods outside their home State, while traveling abroad or via the Internet (e-commerce).
By virtue of Article 2(a), the CISG will not displace the operation of these local consumer statutes, even when the transaction is 'international' in the Article 1 sense. Thus, if a buyer who resides in CISG State A buys goods for 'personal, family or household use' from a seller whose place of business is in CISG State B, the CISG will not apply, unless such seller, at any time before or at the conclusion of the contract, neither knew nor ought to have known that the goods were bought for any such use.
2. Additional Exclusions
60. In addition to the subsection (a) exclusion applicable to 'consumer sales,' subsections (b)-(f) of Article 2 provide that the Convention does not apply to sales:
The exclusion of sales by auction (b) and on execution (c) are attributed to the special character of such sales and to the special nature of the applicable domestic law rules. The exclusion of stocks, shares, investment securities, negotiable instruments and money (d) was also intended to avoid conflict with mandatory rules of domestic law applicable to international securities and currency transactions. The exclusion of ships, vessels, etc. (e) is attributed to special (registration) rules often [page 39] applicable to these kinds of goods; there is, however, some disagreement as to where (or whether) to draw the line between, e.g. an excluded 'ship or 'vessel and a (smaller) 'boat'. [page 40]