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CISG and the VIS Moot: Home

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Both Columbia and the University of Austin have also created guides to researching CISG and the Vis:

For help researching the procedural arbitration elements of the Vis, please see:

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This guide was created by Caitlin Hunter and is now maintained by Amber Madole. 

Notice a broken link or error in this guide? Please contact amber.madole@lls.edu.

What is CISG?

The Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) is a multilateral treaty drafted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to provide merchants in member states with consistent international rules on substantive contract law issues, such as:

  • Offer and acceptance
  • Interpretation of contracts
  • Passage of risk
  • Buyers' and sellers' rights and obligations
  • Breach, remedies, and damages

The purpose of CISG is similar to the purpose of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) you learned in first year Contracts. Both seek to provide merchants with consistent and predictable rules for resolving contract disputes. However, the rules chosen by the CISG drafters are not the same as the rules chosen by the UCC drafters. The rules you apply under CISG may be different than the rules you learned in first year Contracts and disputes may come out differently under CISG than they would under the UCC.

CISG provides the substantive contract law that will be applied in disputes but does not control the procedure for resolving disputes. Depending on the details of the merchants' contract, disputes under CISG may be heard in the courts of either merchant's country or, more commonly, in the merchants' chosen arbitral tribunal according to their chosen arbitral rules.

What is the VIS?

The VIS is a moot court competition designed specifically to teach law students about CISG. It was first proposed at the 1992 UNCITRAL Conference and was developed and continues to be sponsored by Pace Law School. It is named in honor of Willem C. Vis, a Pace professor and former Secretary of UNCITRAL who was instrumental in developing the moot but passed away a few months before the first oral arguments.

The moot problem involves merchants from fictional countries (usually Equatoriana, Mediterraneo, and Oceana) who have chosen to resolve a contract dispute through a real arbitration tribunal operating in the fictional city of Vindobona, Danubia. The problem is subject to the following laws:

  • The merchants' countries are parties to CISG, which controls the substantive contract law.
  • Danubia has enacted UNCITRAL's Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, which controls whether and how the country hosting the arbitration will enforce and recognize the arbitration. 
  • The countries are parties to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, which controls whether and how the merchants' companies will enforce the arbitral award made in Danubia.
  • The arbitral institution varies but is always a real institution, whose rules govern the procedure of the arbitration itself.

This guide covers resources for researching the substantive law of CISG. For resources on researching the UNCITRAL Model Law, the New York Convention, and arbitral rules, please see:

During the Vis moot, students write and argue on behalf of both parties, according to the following schedule:

  • October: Problem distributed.
  • November: Deadline to register.
  • December: Submit a brief on behalf of the claimant, forwarded on to a competing team.
  • January: Submit a reply brief on behalf of the respondent, responding to the claimant's brief of a competing team.
  • January to March: (Optional) Participate in regional pre-moots to practice oral arguments. The University of San Diego hosts the nearest pre-moot.
  • March: Fly to Vienna or Hong Kong to participate in four rounds of oral argument, two arguing for the claimant and two arguing for the respondent.

For more information on the moot and past moot problems, see Pace Law School's official homepage: