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Date:   10 November 1999
Court:   Western High Court of Denmark
Local case reference:   n/a
CISG Nordic ID:   991110DK
Country of decision:   Denmark
Buyer's country:   France
Seller's country:   Denmark
Goods involved:   Christmas Trees
Case history:   1st instance: 4 November 1998, Disctrict Court of Randers
Original language:   Danish
Provisions cited:   CISG not cited
Original court document:   Reported below in full text.
Rapporteur:   Thomas Neumann
Case citations:   n/a

 

Commentary

In English:

CISG Advisory Council Opinion No. 2, Appendix

Bernstein & Lookofsky, Understanding the CISG in Europe, 2d ed., Kluwer (2003) §: 4-8 n.98; §: 4-9 n. 126.

Schlechtriem & Schwenzer ed., Commentary on UN Convention on International Sale of Goods, 2d (English) ed., Oxford University Press, Art. 39 para. 16 Art. 49 para. 32.

Henschel, The Conformity of Goods in International Sales, Forlaget Thomson (2005) 157.

 

In Danish:

Midtgaard Fogt, Morten: Rettidig reklamation og ophævelse af købeaftale efter CISG (VLD 10.11.1999, 9 afdeling, B 2919-98 utrykt), Ugeskrift for Retsvæsen (UfR), No. 12, 2002, 129-136.

 

In French:

Midtgaard Fogt, Morten, Le Dalloz, 2000, 438-440.

 

In German:

Midtgaard Fogt, Morten, ZEuP, 2002, 580-596.

 

Abstract

by Neumann, Thomas

The Western High Court affirmed the decision of the District Court of Randers concerning a sale of Christmas trees. The District court had found that seller had fundamentally breached the contract by delivering trees of lower quality than agreed. Buyer however did not avoid the contract within reasonable time and had to rely on price reduction and damages. See the decision of the Disctrict Court of Randers for more details.

An abstract is also available at Unilex

 

Translated text

Reproduced with permission from CISG Denmark

 

Judgment of the Western Division of the Danish High Court, chamber no. 9, of 10 November 1999


Case No. B-29-1998


AA (Bourgogne, France) v. II (Randers, Denmark)


  • Court composed of Chr. Bache, Stig Glent-Madsen, Jens P. Christensen (temporarily appointed)
  • Appearances: not available
  • Appeal from the Randers District Court

The Randers District Court, chamber no. 4, delivered its judgment on 4 November 1998 (case no. BS 9700016-4)


 

Facts


In November/December 1996 the Danish seller delivered 1,245 Christmas trees to the French buyer. The buyer subsequently gave notice that the goods did not conform with the contract and the seller arranged an examination of the goods, resulting in an ex gratia reduction of the price. The seller claimed payment of the reduced price, and the buyer declared the contract avoided on the grounds that the goods did not conform with the quality and height as required by the contract.


Issues


The issues of the proceedings were whether the goods conformed to the contract, whether the buyer was entitled to declare the contract avoided, and whether there was a basis for claiming damages or a proportional reduction of the price.


Ruling

 

The district court ordered the buyer to pay the price less 42,000 Danish kroner, i.e. a total amount of 82,500 Danish kroner, plus interest. The buyer was also ordered to pay the costs, i.e. 20,000 Danish kroner.

 

 

Judgment of the Western Division of the Danish High Court of 10 November 1999


In the proceedings before the High Court, the appellant buyer and the respondent seller, and the witness NN, relied on the claims and testimony made and given before the court of first instance.


In addition to his testimony before the district court, NN has explained that the buyer usually places his orders for Christmas trees in September and October. However, in November 1996 the buyer specifically wanted to buy tall trees. He contacted his usual suppliers, but they were unable to supply tall trees. GG established a contact between the buyer and the seller. The buyer telephoned the seller, who said that he was able to supply trees in the range of 170cm to 220 cm and that there was an even distribution of height. The buyer was only interested in trees taller than 170 cm, which he specifically told the seller. When the buyer’s agent, BB, examined the trees on arrival in Paris, he noted, inter alia, that it was unrealistic to carry so many trees of a height of 170 cm in a single truck. On 2 December BB informed the witness that the height and the quality of the trees were wrong. However, it was not until 4 December that it became apparent that the quality of the goods was unacceptable. The buyer has suffered a loss exceeding 25,000 Danish kroner, because the non-conforming goods have resulted in a loss of customers and an alternative purchase of expensive trees. For 1 to 1½ month the trees were stored at the market stall, where they were surrounded by a 250 cm tall fence. The buyer paid 1,567.80 French francs for renting the fence and an additional 2,577.10 French francs for renting the market stall. Subsequently the buyer paid 7,055.10 French francs for handling, carrying and storing the trees. If the trees had conformed with the contract, the buyer would have earned a gross profit of 30% to 40%, but instead he lost about 50 Danish kroner on each tree. The witness does not know UU, but is familiar with Dansk Skovforening, Pyntegrøntsektionen (the Danish Forest Association, decorative greenery section). HH, surveyor, and UU examined the trees delivered by the seller. The declaration of destruction was prepared by RR to protect the public control of the sale of products from the market place. It does not entail an actual destruction but is merely a declaration stating that the trees are unmarketable. The buyer normally has a couple of thousand trees that are unmarketable and subsequently destroyed. On 5 December the buyer offered to buy the trees at a price of 65 Danish kroner each, because it was now necessary to act quickly. He was still of the opinion that the trees were owned by the seller and that the trees were at the market place at the seller’s risk. None of the trees delivered by the seller was sold.


The seller has explained that he deals in Christmas trees commercially, and that he has several employees during the season. A substantial number of the trees are exported. He buys trees from the producers of Christmas trees; he labels some of the tree himself whereas others are labelled by the producers. He only buys first and second grade trees. The consignment in question consisted of approximately 5000 trees and part of this consignment was sold to the buyer. The rest of the consignment was sold to other customers, including Swedish buyers, and none of these has given notice of lack of conformity. It is customary for the buyers to examine the trees before they place their orders. The consignment was a mix consisting of first and second grade trees, whose quality had been improved by pruning and shearing during growth. The height of the trees ranged from 160 cm to 210 cm. For the purpose of concluding the contract he only knew NN by name. The contact between NN and the seller had been established by GG. At the end of November they had a telephone conversation during which they agreed on the terms of business and the price. On 29 November he received an order confirmation, and at that time, he only noticed the description specifying that the goods concerned first and second grade trees. He bought the trees felled and loaded by OO and he therefore did not take part in the loading. A truck can hold more than 1000 trees, depending on how they are packed and how they are loaded. On 2 December NN phoned him and gave notice of lack of conformity. At NN’s request, the seller contacted TT, president of the relevant Danish trade association – the seller is not a member of the association, however. The seller knew that TT sold Christmas trees to France. On 3 December TT examined the trees and subsequently made a report. A few trees were between 150 cm and 170 cm, and therefore the seller agreed to reduce the price. After TT’s report had been made the buyer complained about the quality and in that connection offered to pay 65 Danish kroner for each tree. The buyer said nothing about avoiding the contract. The seller had paid 90 Danish kroner for each tree to OO. He has not given notice of lack of conformity to OO, as there is no basis for such a notice. Each tree had a red label with consecutive numbers.


In his testimony, UU has further explained that the Christmas trees are usually numbered consecutively according to a screening guide. The trees he examined in France were not marked according to the screening guide, but all had red labels with consecutive numbers. There were no other labels on the trees. He estimated that the number of trees presented to him corresponded to the number sold, but he is not completely sure that the trees examined had been delivered by the seller. 110 trees were unwrapped in order to examine the quality and the height. In his opinion this was a representative selection. His examination included the measurement of the distance between the first and the second whirl of branches.


Only NN and BB were present during the examination by UU. Approximately half of the trees above 170 cm lacked in fullness and were therefore of poor quality. The trees below 170 cm were of good quality.


During the proceedings before the High Court, the parties have generally relied on the claims and allegation submitted before the court of first instance.


Grounds of the Judgment

As for the time at which the buyer declared the contract avoided, the Court notes that it appears from the letter of 10 December from the buyer’s lawyer that the buyer intended his fax of 9 December 1996 to contain a declaration of avoidance.


Having regard to the contents of the buyer’s fax of 5 December 1996, which was sent after the goods had been examined and which concerns a notice that the trees did not conform to the height and quality as required by the contract, and for the reasons given by the district court in this respect, the Court finds that the buyer was not entitled to declare the contract avoided.


On those grounds and for the reasons given by the district court in its judgment, the Court dismisses the appeal.


Because the appeal was made after the expiry of the period allowed for appeal and because the seller has paid for translation of the documents and their authentication prior to the High Court’s grant of a stay of execution, these expenses are taken into consideration when determining the costs of the proceedings before the High Court.


On those grounds the Court hereby rules:


Appeal dismissed.


The buyer is ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings before the High Court, i.e. 21,000 Danish kroner, to the seller.

The buyer is ordered to pay the above costs within two weeks.

 

 

Original text

 

Dom afsagt den 10. november 1999 af Vestre Landsrets 9. afdeling (dommerne Chr. Bache, Stig Glent-Madsen og Jens P. Christensen (kst.)) i ankesag B-29-1998 

Appellanten AA (Bourgogne, Frankrig) mod indstævnte II (Randers, Danmark) 

Retten i Randers, 4. afdeling, har den 4. november 1998 afsagt dom i sagen i 1. instans (BS 9700016-4). 

For landsretten har appellanten, og indstævnte, NN, gentaget deres påstande for byretten. 

NN har supplerende forklaret, at appellanten normalt køber juletræspartier i september og oktober måned. I november 1996 var der imidlertid et konkret ønske om at købe større træer. Han spurgte hos sine normale leverandører, men de havde ikke mulighed for at levere høje træer. Via GG fik han kontakt til indstævnte. Han tog telefonisk kontakt til indstævnte, der oplyste, at han havde træer i intervallet mellem 170 - 220 cm, og at der var en jævn fordeling af træerne, appellanten var ikke interesseret i træer under 170 cm, og det blev præciseret overfor indstævnte. Da appellantens repræsentant, BB, undersøgte træerne ved ankomsten til Paris, bemærkede han blandt andet, at det var urealistisk at transportere så mange træer af en højde på 170 cm. på en lastvogn. BB meddelte den 2. december vidnet, at højden og kvaliteten af træerne ikke var i orden. Det var imidlertid først den 4. december, at det klart fremgik, at kvaliteten ikke var acceptabel. Appellanten har haft et større tab end 25.000 kr., da indstævntes mangelfulde leverance har betydet tab af kunder og alternativt opkøb af dyre træer. Ju­letræerne lå ca. 1 – 1 ½ måned på pladsen, hvor de blev indhegnet med et 250 cm højt hegn. Appellanten betalte 1.567,80 franc for leje af hegn samt ekstra pladsleje med 2.577,10 franc. Senere betalte appellanten 7.055,10 franc for håndtering, transport og opbevaring af træerne. Hvis træerne havde været som forudsat, havde appellantens brutto-avance varet ca. på 30 - 40%, og appellanten har tabt ca. 50 kr. pr. træ. Vidnet kender ikke UU, men han kender Dansk Skovforening, Pyntegrøntsektionen. Skønsmanden HH og UU undersøgte de træer, indstævnte havde leveret. Destruktionserklæringerne er udfærdiget af RR af hensyn til det offentliges kontrol med salget af produkter fra pladsen. Der er ikke tale om en egentlig destruktion men alene en erklæring om at træerne er usælgelige. Normalt har appellanten et par tusinde træer, der ikke kan sælges, og som efterfølgende bliver destrueret. Den 5. december tilbød appellanten at købe træerne for 65 kr. pr. stk., fordi der nu var en situation, hvor det var nødvendigt, at der blev handlet hurtigt. Det var hans opfattelse, at det fortsat var indstævntes træer, og at træerne derfor var på pladsen på indstævntes ansvar. Ingen af de af indstævnte leverede træer blev solgt. 

Indstævnte har forklaret, at han driver en virksomhed med handel med juletræer. I sæsonen har han flere ansatte. En stor del af virksomhedens salg går til eksport. Størsteparten af træerne køber han hos juletræsproducenter. Normalt mærker han selv træerne, men producenterne mærker også selv. Han køber altid første og anden kvalitets træer. Det omhandlede parti træer var på i alt ca. 5.000 stk., og en del af dette parti blev solgt til appellanten. Den øvrige del af partiet blev blandt andet solgt til Sverige, og der har ikke været reklamationer vedrørende disse træer. Normalt besigtiger køber træerne, inden han køber. Partiet var et mixparti bestående af første og anden sortering. Træernes kvalitet var forbedret ved en formpilning og stabklipning under væksten. Træernes størrelse varierede mellem 160 - 210 cm. For aftalens indgåelse kendte han alene NN af navn. GG formidlede kontakten med NN. I slutningen af november havde de en telefonisk drøftelse, hvor de nåede til enighed om handelsvilkårene og prisen. Den 29. november fik han en ordrebekræftelse, og han hæftede sig på daværende tidspunkt alene ved beskrivelsen af, at der var tale om første og anden klasses træer. Han havde købt træerne skovet og læsset af OO, og han deltog derfor ikke selv i læsningen. Der kan være mere end 1.000 træer på en lastbil, idet det afhænger af, hvordan træerne og lastbilen pakkes. Den 2. december reklamerede NN telefonisk. NN sagde, at træerne var for små, og at der var træer under 150 cm. Han nævnte intet om kvaliteten. Efter opfordring fra NN fik indstævnte kontakt med TT, der er formand for brancheforeningen - en forening som indstævnte dog ikke selv er medlem af. Indstævnte vidste, at TT var aktiv i juletræshandel i Frankrig. Den 3. december foretog TT en opmåling og udfærdigede en rapport. Der var et mindre antal træer, der var mellem. 150 -170 cm, og indstævnte indvilgede på den baggrund i at give appellanten et afslag i prisen. Efter TTs rapport reklamerede appellanten over kvaliteten, og appellanten foreslog i den forbindelse at betale 65 kr. pr. stk. NN nævnte intet om at hæve handlen. Indstævnte har selv betalt 90 kr. pr. træ til OO. Han har ikke reklameret over for OO, da der ikke er noget grundlag for en reklamation. På hvert juletræ var der påhæftet en rød seddel med et fortløbende nummer. 

UU har supplerende forklaret, at juletræer normalt mærkes fortløbende i henhold til en sorteringsvejledning. De træer, han besigtigede i Frankrig, var ikke mærket i henhold til sorteringsvejledningen. Træerne var fortløbende mærket med røde mærker. Der var ikke andre mærker på træerne. Han anslog, at den foreviste mængde træer svarede til det solgte antal, men han kan ikke med sikkerhed sige, at det var træer leveret af indstævnte. De pakkede 110 træer ud for at undersøge kvaliteten og højden. Det er hans opfattelse, at der var tale om et repræsentativt udsnit. Han målte blandt andet afstanden mellem første og anden grenkrans. 

Det var kun NN og BB til stede i forbindelse med vidnets undersøgelse af træerne. Ca. halvdelen af de træer, der var over 170 cm var ikke fyldige og derfor af dårlig kvalitet. De træer, der var under 170 cm, var af god kvalitet. 

Parterne har i det væsentlige gentaget deres anbringender i 1. instans. 


Landsrettens begrundelse og resultat: 

Med hensyn til tidspunktet for appellantens ophævelse af købet bemærkes, at det fremgår af skrivelsen af 10. december 1996 fra indstævntes advokat, at denne har opfattet appellantens faxskrivelse af 9. december 1996 som indeholdende en ophævelse. 

Under hensyn til indholdet af appellantens faxskrivelse af 5. december 1996, som er afgivet efter, at partiet er gennemgået, og som omfatter reklamation vedrørende såvel højde som kvalitet, og af de grunde, der i den henseende i øvrigt er anført i byrettens dom, tiltrædes det imidlertid, at appellanten er afskåret fra at hæve købet. 



Herefter og af de i øvrigt af byretten anførte grunde stadfæster landsretten dommen. 

Som følge af, at dommen er anket efter udløb af fuldbyrdelsesfristen, og indstævnte herefter har påtaget sig oversættelses‑ og legaliseringsudgifter forud for landsrettens bestemmelse om opsættende virkning, findes disse udgifter at burde tages i betragtning ved fastsættelse af sagsomkostninger for landsretten. 


Thi kendes for ret: 

Byrettens dom stadfæstes. 

Sagens omkostninger for landsretten skal appellanten betale til indstævnte med 21.000 kr. 

Det idømte skal betales inden 14 dage. 

Chr. Bache Stig Glent-Madsen Jens P. Christensen

 

 

 

 

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