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Interpreting merger clauses in contracts governed by the CISG: delineating the scope for the use of extrinsic evidence
Uniform Law Review  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-08-01, DOI: 10.1093/ulr/unab013
Suresh A.

Under Article 8(3) of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG), parties’ statements, prior negotiations and other external circumstances may be used to assess the presence of subjective or objective intent that can, in turn, be used to interpret contractual terms in international sales contracts governed by the CISG. However, parties to the contract can, through the adoption of an ‘entire agreement’ or ‘merger’ clause, opt out of this rule under Article 8(3) and restrict these interpretative tools in any manner as they see fit, depending on the requirements of their contract. Since the CISG does not explicitly address merger clauses and their effects, the CISG Advisory Council, in its Opinion no. 3, has provided a test to determine how the scope of a merger clause is to be determined. However, this test presents certain conceptual and practical limitations that render it inadequate for use in international commercial contracts. This article aims to analyse this test and the methods that have been used to interpret merger clauses under other uniform legal instruments and cases in common law jurisdictions. On this basis, the article proposes a test that attempts to fully capture the conceptual intent behind including merger clauses while ensuring that the parties are in the driver’s seat while determining their scope and effect.