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Report to the Uniform Law Conference of Canada on Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

Professor Jacob S. Ziegel, University of Toronto
July 1981

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Article 5

This Convention does not apply to the liability of the seller for death or personal injury caused by the goods to any person.


1. This article did not appear in the draft convention. It was adopted at Vienna at the suggestion of several delegations who pointed out that the liability of suppliers of defective goods causing personal injuries is governed in many legal systems by separate rules of law and that it has also attracted the attention of separate international conventions. [See Ontario Law Reform Commission, Report on Products Liability (1979), Appendices 3-5.]

2. The Canadian position with respect to the seller's liability is rather different. Under the provincial Sale of Goods Acts a seller is liable for all types of damage caused by defective goods and involving a breach of his warranty objectives, whether the damage is physical or only economic and whether or not he has been negligent. He may also be liable in tort for negligently supplying goods causing physical injury to person or property. The Ontario Law Reform Commission recommended in its Report on Products Liability (1979) imposing a regime of strict liability on all business suppliers of dangerously defective goods, but this recommendation still awaits implementation. It is not clear what effect Art. 5 will have in a common law province that has requested adoption of CISG where a buyer suffers injury because the foreign seller has supplied defective goods. Presumably the buyer will lose his right to sue for breach of warranty under the provincial Sale of Goods Act and will be remitted to a claim in tort under the lex fori. This could leave him in a less favourable position than he is at present if the lex fori only allows recovery in tort where the seller has acted negligently.

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Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law - Last updated April 23, 1999

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