URDG 758 Rules and Their Impact on Demand Guarantees

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What are URDG 758 Rules and how do they impact Demand Guarantees?

The Uniform Rules for Demand Guarantees (URDG) are the rules underpinning the commonly used trade finance instruments, demand guarantees. This guide explains the purpose of demand guarantees and the rules governing them, which can help you understand how to mitigate risk in certain commercial trade transactions.

Introducing URDG Rules

URDG (Uniform Rules for Demand Guarantees) Rules are internationally recognised guidelines established by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). These rules provide a standardised framework for demand guarantees, promoting transparency, efficiency, and fairness in international trade and financial transactions.

URDG Rules are widely used by banks, financial institutions, and businesses globally to govern demand guarantee transactions. They ensure that the rights and obligations of the parties involved are clearly defined and understood. By adhering to URDG Rules, all parties can minimise disputes and conflicts that may arise during the process of demand guarantee issuance and utilisation.

Key Features and Benefits of URDG Rules:

  1. Clarity and Consistency: URDG Rules provide a standardised set of provisions, definitions, and procedures, ensuring clarity and consistency in demand-guarantee transactions worldwide. This promotes a common understanding among all parties involved and reduces the risk of misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
  2. Risk Mitigation: URDG Rules help manage the risks associated with demand guarantees by establishing clear timelines, procedures for demand presentation, and dispute resolution mechanisms. These rules provide a balanced approach that protects the interests of both the beneficiary and the applicant.
  3. International Acceptance: URDG Rules have gained global acceptance and recognition, making them an essential reference for cross-border transactions. They are widely used by banks and financial institutions, providing a trusted framework for demand guarantee issuance and negotiation.
  4. Legal Certainty: URDG Rules offer legal certainty by providing a well-defined framework for demand guarantees. The rules cover various aspects, including the form and content of demand guarantees, amendments and transfers, expiry dates, and the requirements for demand presentation. By adhering to these rules, parties involved can rely on a standardised and enforceable set of guidelines, reducing legal risks and uncertainties.
  5. Flexibility and Customisation: While URDG Rules provide a standardised framework, they also allow for flexibility and customisation to accommodate specific needs and requirements of different industries and transactions. Parties can incorporate additional provisions or modify certain terms within the boundaries set by the rules, ensuring the demand guarantees align with their unique circumstances.
  6. Dispute Resolution: In the event of disputes or disagreements, URDG Rules offer a comprehensive dispute resolution mechanism. This mechanism includes provisions for mediation, arbitration, or litigation, providing parties with options to resolve conflicts efficiently and fairly.

Summary of the URDG 758 Rules

Rule Number Rule Coverage
 1 Introduces URDG and its applicability. Provides clarity on issues of interpretation.
2 Provides definitions for commonly used terms in demand guarantees such as “guarantee,” “counter-guarantee,” “instructing party,” etc.
3 Details the interpretation of terms not defined in the rules, such as business days, electronic records, and messages. Provides guidance on calculation of time periods.
4 Pertains to communications, describing how, when, and where a guarantee, amendment, or any other message should be sent.
5 Outlines the liabilities and responsibilities of each party involved. Guarantors and counter-guarantors deal with documents, not with goods, services, or performance.
6 Talks about amendments to the demand guarantee. All modifications must receive acceptance from guarantor and beneficiary.
7 Clarifies the independence of the guarantee and counter-guarantee. Each guarantee is a separate transaction from the underlying contract.
8 Sets rules for a complying presentation. The guarantor must examine the documents for apparent authenticity.
9 Covers the expiration of the demand guarantee, defining what constitutes an expiry event.
10 Discusses the extent of the guarantor’s and counter-guarantor’s obligations, including when they are discharged and how the amount of liability can be reduced.
11 Explains the process for making demands under the guarantee, specifying what the demand should include and the documents that should accompany it.
12 Concerned with examination of demands. Outlines how and when the guarantor must examine the demand and accompanying documents.
13 Talks about notice and other communications, including when they should be given and their effects.
14 Elaborates on the transfer and assignment of rights. Rights under a guarantee cannot be transferred but proceeds can be assigned.
15 Discusses the governing law. URDG and the guarantee or counter-guarantee are governed by laws of the jurisdiction stated in the guarantee or counter-guarantee.
16 Pertains to the process for handling any conflicting laws or obligations, including legal regulations that might prevent a guarantor or counter-guarantor from fulfilling their obligations.

5 common mistakes when applying the URDG rules

Demand guarantees, underpinned by URDG rules, aim to streamline and provide security in international trade transactions. However, certain aspects can sometimes lead to misunderstandings, disputes, or failed transactions. Five of these areas include:

1. Independence Principle (Rule 7): The URDG underscores that a guarantee is an independent contract from the underlying business contract, and the guarantor’s obligation is separate from that of the applicant’s obligation under the underlying contract. Misunderstanding this independence principle can lead to conflicts, as parties often try to involve the guarantor in disputes over the actual goods, services, or performance.

2. Complying Presentation (Rule 8): The requirement for a complying presentation, or the submission of specified documents in the exact manner stipulated, can be a common source of disputes. If the beneficiary fails to present the documents as per the terms and conditions set in the guarantee, it might lead to the rejection of the demand, causing transaction failures.

3. Expiry Events (Rule 9): Clarity on when exactly a guarantee expires can be confusing for parties involved. This rule states that a guarantee expires on the earliest of its expiry date, the expiry date of any further extension, or on the date of a payment by the guarantor. Misinterpretation or disagreements on expiry dates can lead to transactional disputes.

4. Obligations of the Guarantor (Rule 10): The extent of the guarantor’s obligations can sometimes be problematic. There can be disputes about when the guarantor’s obligation is discharged, which can cause difficulties in the transaction process.

5. Making a Demand (Rule 11): This rule, which outlines the process for making demands under the guarantee, can often be a source of confusion. It specifies what the demand should include and the documents that should accompany it. Misinterpretation or non-adherence to this rule can cause the failure of transactions.

These are general areas where misunderstandings or disputes can occur under URDG rules.

However, it’s important to note that each transaction may have its own unique set of complexities and potential areas of dispute. It’s always recommended for parties involved in demand guarantee transactions to seek expert legal advice to avoid these potential pitfalls.

Want to understand more about the URDG 758 Rules for demand guarantees?

Check out this video taken at ICC Austria’s Trade Finance Week, Trade Finance Global spoke with Isaac Mahanke, group head for traditional trade products at Standard Bank, to shed light on the prevalence and advantages of demand guarantees in Africa.

This wide ranging conversation serves to highlight the distinct features and benefits of demand guarantees in Africa compared to other trade finance products used worldwide.

Video - Benefits of Demand Guarantees


Demand guarantees and URDG 758 rules – trends in Africa

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About the Author

Glee Baniago is responsible for the TFG Weekly Trade Briefings and content at Trade Finance Global.

She is particularly interested in FinTech and how the digitisation of documents, such as with the Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) will impact trade.

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