If a foreign language that is different than the one used
between the Parties during their previous negotiations is used in
an offer, the addressee would be expected to obtain reliable
knowledge of the contents of such declaration when it is obvious
that it has legal relevance. Under Turkish Law, there is Law No:
805 dated 1926 on Mandatory Use of the Turkish Language.
As regards to the language of the communication under the United
Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods
("CISG"), the circumstances of the each case shall be
determinative; read and interpreted in accordance with Article
81 as well as Article 9.
The issue of "language risk" was also resolved in the
same manner by the German Court2 in its decision dated 8
February 1995 whereby the Court declared that the issue falls
within the reign of Article 24 which should be read in light of the
Articles 8(2), 8(3) and 9 of the Convention so that it would allow
the Court to consider the particular circumstances of the each
case. First of all, the Court rejected the idea that all
businessmen must have an understanding of the English language or
at least the opportunity for a translation and establishes that
each case must be determined on its on facts. The Court
further submitted that according to international practices and
usages, a reasonable person who receives a declaration in a
language that is unknown to it and different than the one used
between the Parties during their previous negotiations, would be
expected to obtain reliable knowledge of the contents of such
declaration in another manner when it is obvious that it has legal
relevance.3 In other words, if the addressee is
communicated through a language that it does not understand,
normally, it is not required to have the declaration interpreted.
However, if the circumstances of the case reveal that the
declaration in question is discernibly of legal relevance; then the
addressee may be expected to make additional efforts to understand
the content of such offer or ask for the declarer's
Under Turkish Law, however, Law No: 805 dated 1926 on Mandatory
Use of the Turkish Language for Corporations requires all Turkish
companies to conduct their correspondence, execute their agreements
and keep their commercial books in the Turkish language, if
concluded in Turkey. Foreign companies, too, has to use Turkish
language with Turkish companies in their transactions and contracts
in addition to its preferred language. However, the Turkish
language prevails over the foreign language. Despite the fact that
this law is seldom taken into consideration in practice, it should
be noted that it still in effect.
1 HUBER, P., & MULLIS, A., The CISG a new
textbook for students and practitioners, München,
Sellier, 2007, pp.79-80.
2 GERMANY, Appellate Court Hamm (Socks case), 8 February
3 Legal relevance was obvious due to the fact that
Parties were in the middle of business negotiations and the
declaration in question was related to an invoice previously sent
with an indication of the invoice number and invoice price, which
requires no translation to figure out that, at least, it has legal
4 SCHWENZER, I. (ed.) , Schlechtriem & Schwenzer,
Commentary on the UN Convention on the International Sale of Goods
(CISG), 3rd ed., Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, p.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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