District Court Oost-Brabant rules that Art. 2(b) CISG excludes sales by internet auction from CISG

In the transaction that lead to the Dutch Court of First Instance's decision of 31 August 2020, a Dutch seller had posted an offer for the sale of a stallion (11 years old) on an internet auction platform that specialized in horse auctions. The highest bid was made by a buyer from an (unnamed) CISG Non-Contracting State.


When the buyer subsequently sued the seller, claiming a non-conformity of the horse, the District Court held (in para. 21 of the decision) that the Sales Convention did not apply to the sales contract, because Art. 2(b) CISG – which states that the Convention does not apply to sales “by auction”also excludes sales via internet auction from the Convention's scope. (The District Court accordingly applied domestic Dutch law to the transaction.)

Czech Republic
Sale of horse via internet auction case
Rechtbank Oost-Brabant (District Court Oost-Brabant)
Netherlands, 31 August 2020 – C/01/360225 / KG ZA 20-386, CISG-online 5398

While the District Court Oost-Brabant did not support its position with any references to case law (Dutch or foreign), at least two recent decision have similarly interpreted the term "auction" in Art. 2(b) CISG as also covering internet auctions: 

Czech Republic
Online auction of photography case
Bundesgericht/Tribunal fédéral (Swiss Federal Supreme Court)
Switzerland, 08 November 2016 – 4A_451/2016, CISG-online 2803
Czech Republic
Online auction of car case
Oberlandesgericht Brandenburg (Court of Appeal Brandenburg)
Germany, 08 April 2016 – 11 U 44/14, CISG-online 2727

The opposing view that has occasionally been presented in writings on the Convention has not (yet) found any followers among international courts:

Ulrich G. Schroeter, 'Die Anwendbarkeit des UN-Kaufrechts auf grenzüberschreitende Versteigerungen und Internet-Auktionen', Zeitschrift für Europäisches Privatrecht (ZEuP) (2004), 20–35 [– in German]