Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


On April 10, 1980, the United Nations Convention for the International Sale of Goods was announced. The Convention was the latest in a series of attempts to formulate a uniform law to govern transnational commercial transactions. Because the common- and civil-law systems start with fundamentally different approaches to contracts, the drafters of the Convention were faced with the difficult task of compromising between the two systems to create a hybrid acceptable to both. This Article focuses on the doctrine of impossibility where, on the surface at least, the common- and civil-law (exemplified by German law) approaches appear to be fundamentally different. The Article analyzes impossibility under both systems and then describes the compromise approach taken by the Convention. The Article concludes that the Convention successfully adopted a compromise approach compatible with both common- and civil-law systems. This success should contribute to widespread adoption of the Convention and thus contribute to the unification of the law governing transnational commercial transactions.