Offer and acceptance analysis is a traditional approach in contract law used to determine whether an agreement exists between two parties. An offer is an indication by one person to another of their willingness to contract on certain terms without further negotiations. A contract is then formed if there is express or implied agreement. A contract is said to come into existence when acceptance of an offer has been communicated to the offeror by the offeree.
The offer and acceptance formula, developed in the 19th century, identifies a moment of formation when the parties are of one mind. This classical approach to contract formation has been weakened by developments in the law of estoppel, misleading conduct, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
The nature of an offer
An offer is an expression of willingness to contract on certain terms, made with the the intention that it shall become binding as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom it is addressed, the “offeree” [G.H. Tretel, The Law of Contract, 10th edn, p.8].The “expression” referred to in the definition may take different forms, such as a letter, newspaper, fax, email and even conduct, as long as it it communicates the basis on which the offeror is prepared to contract.
The “intention” referred to in the definition is objectively judged by the courts. The English case of Smith v. Hughes (1871) LR 6 QB 597 emphasises that the important thing is not a party’s real intentions but how a reasonable person would view the situation. This is due mainly to common sense as each party would not wish to breach his side of the contract if it would make him or her culpable to damages, it would especially be contrary to the principle of certainty and clarity in commercial contract and the topic of mistake and how it affect the contract.The classical principles are illustrated in the well-known case of Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company.
The contract in Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co was of a kind known as a unilateral contract, one in which the offeree accepts the offer by performing his or her side of the bargain. It can be contrasted with a bilateral contract, where there is an exchange of promises between two parties. In Australian Woollen Mills Pty Ltd v. The Commonwealth (1954), the High Court of Australia held that, for a unilateral contract to arise, the promise must be made “in return for” the doing of the act. The court distinguished between a unilateral contract from a conditional gift. The case is generally seen to demonstrate the connection between the requirements of offer and acceptance, consideration and intention to create legal relations.
An invitation to treat is not an offer, but an indication of a person’s willingness to negotiate a contract. In Harvey v Facey, an indication by the owner of property that he or she might be interested in selling at a certain price, for example, has been regarded as an invitation to treat. The courts have tended to take a consistent approach to the identification of invitiations to treat, as compared with offer and acceptance, in common transacions. The display of goods for sale, whether in a shop window or on the shelves of a self-service store, is ordinarily treated as an invitation to treat and not an offer. The holding of a public auction will also usually be regarded as an invitation to treat.
Revocation of offer
An offeror may revoke an offer before it has been accepted, but the revocation must be communicated to the offeree, although not necessarily by the offeror. If the offer was made to the entire world, such as in Carlill’s case, the revocation must take a form that is similar to the offer. However, an offer may not be revoked if it has been encapsulated in an option (see also option contract).
If the offer is a unilateral offer, unless there was an ancillary contract entered into that guaranteed that the main contract would not be withdrawn, the contract may be revoked at any time: see Mobil Oil Australia Ltd v. Wellcome International Pty Ltd (1998) 81 FCR 475.
Acceptance is a final and unqualified expression of assent to the terms of an offer [G.H. Treitel, The Law of Contract, 10th edn, p.16]. It is no defense to an action based on a contract for the defendant to claim that he never intended to be bound by the agreement if under all the circumstances it is shown at trial that his conduct was such that it communicated to the other party or parties that the defendant had in fact agreed. Signing of a contract is one way a party may show his assent. Alternatively, an offer consisting of a promise to pay someone if the latter performs certain acts which the latter would not otherwise do (such as paint a house) may be accepted by the requested conduct instead of a promise to do the act. The performance of the requested act indicates objectively the party’s assent to the terms of the offer.
The essential requirement is that there be evidence that the parties had each from an objective perspective engaged in conduct manifesting their assent. This manifestation of assent theory of contract formation may be contrasted with older theories, in which it was sometimes argued that a contract required the parties to have a true meeting of the minds between the parties. Under the “meeting of the minds” theory of contract, a party could resist a claim of breach by proving that although it may have appeared objectively that he intended to be bound by the agreement, he had never truly intended to be bound. This is unsatisfactory, as the other parties have no means of knowing their counterparts’ undisclosed intentions or understandings. They can only act upon what a party reveals objectively to be his intent. Hence, an actual meeting of the minds is not required.
This requirement of an objective perspective is important in cases where a party claims that an offer was not accepted, taking advantage of the performance of the other party. Here, we can apply the test of whether a reasonable bystander (a “fly on the wall”) would have perceived that the party has impliedly accepted the offer by conduct.
Communication of acceptance
There are several rules dealing with the communication of acceptance:
* The acceptance must be communicated: Depending on the construction of the contract, the acceptance may not have to come until the notification of the performance of the conditions in the offer as in Carlill’s case, but nonetheless the acceptance must be communicated. Prior to acceptance, an offer may be withdrawn.
* An offer can only be accepted by the offeree, that is, the person to whom the offer is made.
* An offer is not bound if another person accepts the offer on his behalf without his authorisation: see agent (law).
* It may be implied from the construction of the contract that the offeror has dispensed with the requirement of communication of acceptance.
* If the offer specifies a method of acceptance (such as by post or fax), you must accept it using a method that is no less effective than the method specified.
* Silence cannot be construed as acceptance: see Felthouse v. Bindley (1862) 142 ER 1037.
Correspondence with offer
The “mirror image rule” states that if you are to accept an offer, you must accept an offer exactly, without modifications; if you change the offer in any way, this is a counter-offer that kills the original offer. However, a mere request for information is not a counter-offer. It may be possible to draft an enquiry such that is adds to the terms of the contract while keeping the original offer alive.
Battle of the forms
Often when two companies deal with each other in the course of business, they will use standard form contracts. In Butler Machine Tool Co Ltd v. Ex-Cell-O Corporation (England) Ltd  WLR 401, the question was raised as to which of the standard form contracts prevailed in the transaction. Denning MR preferred the view that the documents were to be considered as a whole, and the important factor was finding the decisive document; on the other hand, Lawton and Bridge LJJ preferred traditional offer-acceptance analysis, and considered that the last counter-offer killed all preceding offers.
Postal acceptance rule
As a rule of convenience, if the offer is accepted by post, the contract comes into existence at the moment that the acceptance was posted. This rule only applies when, impliedly or explicitly, the parties have in contemplation post as a means of acceptance. It excludes contracts involving land, letters incorrectly addressed and instantaneous modes of communication.
See main article: Mailbox rule.
Knowledge of the offer
In Australian law, there is a requirement that an acceptance is made in reliance or persuance of an offer: see R v. Clarke.
Rejection, death or lapse of time
If the offeree rejects the offer, the offer has been killed and cannot be accepted at a further date. The offer also cannot be accepted after the time period specified in the offer, or if no time was specified, after a reasonable period of time. If the offeror dies, the offeree may accept only if the acceptance is done without the knowledge of the death; conversely, the estate of a deceased offeree may not accept an offer.
A contract will be formed (assuming the other requirements are met) when the parties give objective manifestation of an intent to form the contract. Of course, the assent must be given to terms of the agreement. Usually this involves the making by one party of an offer to be bound upon certain terms, and the other parties’ acceptance of the offer on the same terms. The acceptance of an offer may be either a statement of agreement, or, if the offer invites acceptance in this way, a performance of an act requested in the terms of the offer. For instance, if one tells a neighbor kid that if the kid mows the offeror’s lawn, the offeror will pay $20.00, and the kid does mow the lawn, the act of mowing constitutes the manifestation of the kid’s assent. For a contract based on offer and acceptance to be enforced, the terms must be capable of determination in a way that it is clear that the parties assent was given to the same terms. The terms, like the manifestation of assent itself, are determined objectively. They may be written, or sometimes oral, although some kinds of contracts require a writing as evidence of the agreement to be enforced. For information on the written requirements of contracts, see the main contract article.
Criticisms of offer-acceptance analysis lie in that this tool was created by legal academics and can be rather arbitrary at time, and bears little resemblance to how lay-people perceive the formation of a contract.
Contract Law Case Study Assignment Help
Contract law is one of the major branches of legal studies. Students pursuing legal studies need to know the various aspects associated with contract law in which they need to prepare an assignment case study.
Before you embark on this mission to prepare your contract law case study, learn the most important concepts of contract law here.
What is Contract Law?
A contract refers to the voluntary agreement between two or more parties and contract law refers to the whole body of laws governing it. Every written and even oral agreement involves an exchange of goods, services, money and properties. The body of law governs the agreement and also encompasses the obligations of the parties, limitations, privities, obligation and jurisdiction and its termination (Businessdictionary.com, 2016). It also incorporates the possible remedies and legal actions in case of breach of the contract by any party. Though mainly used for commercial purposes, it also holds significance for civil purposes.
Students pursuing law are required to prepare a contract law case study assignment to exhibit their knowledge in this discipline. However, most of them do not have a firm knowledge and grip over this subject and feel helpless when they are assigned a contract law case study.
Elements of Contract
Before learning contract law, the students must have a clear idea about the different element of the contract which would help them to understand the subject better.
Offer and Acceptance
Offer and Acceptance are the most important elements for any successful contract. The offer is a statement of willingness to provide the contract on specific terms by the offerer whereas acceptance refers to the unconditional assent by the offeree with the intention of accepting the contract (Lawhandbook.org.au, 2016).
The parties of the agreement must enter into a legal agreement to make the contract effective. It creates a legal relation between the parties as the agreement gets enforced by law. It is also important that the offerer and the offeree understand the legal implications and consequences that will follow (E-lawresources.co.uk, 2016).
To make the contract binding, it should be supported by a valuable consideration. Consideration refers to the value promised by one party to another at agreed benefits or returns. Consideration can be money, some kind of service or right. The court or any legal institution will not question the adequacy as long as consideration exists (Study.com, 2016).
The court will never interfere in any matter of dispute if one of the parties in the agreement thinks that he made a bad deal. The deciding consideration depends on the individual value and capacity of the parties. But the court can intervene if one of the parties accuses the other of influencing or forcing the former in the deal.
The parties or people who wish to enter into the legal contract must possess the legal capacity under the purview of law. As people who are mentally impaired, minors, bankrupt, prisoners and other people explicating stated cannot enter into a contract (Lawhandbook.org.au, 2016).
All the parties expressed their willingness to enter into a contract should enter it freely with a proper understanding of the contract details. They should not take their decision from external influence, intimidation, threat or false hope and misrepresentation (Contracts.uslegal.com, 2016).
To devise a strong contract law case study, the students must have a clear idea about these essential five elements. But there are many students who have several queries on different aspects of contract law. Consulting contract law case study sample or contract law case study example will help them in these circumstances.
Contract law : All Your Queries Answered
Not always a contract law case study sample is able to answer and suffice all the queries. The students have numerous questions in their mind with this vast discipline under law. Here are the most important aspects of contract law discussed in detail.
Breach of Contract
Breach of Contract refers to the legal action taken by any party when the other party does not honor the binding agreement or any of its clauses. If a person within an agreement breaks the contractual promise and does not perform the duty expected according to the contract, then it can be referred as breach of contract (Smallbusiness.findlaw.com, 2016). According to the severity and gravity of the breach, it can be classified into:
- Minor Breaches
- Material Breaches
- Fundamental Breaches
While minor breaches refer to the slight violations, fundamental breaches are drastic violations ensuing legal action.
Consequences of contract breach
Firstly, both the parties can try to get into a solution through informal meetings when a dispute arises. But when they fail, the non-breaching party can seek legal remedy. This is performed through formal lawsuits and the established court system of the respective country.
The parties can also agree to hire a unanimous arbitrator who will review the contract dispute and breach and deliver a solution. But when the arbitrator too cannot provide a universally accepted remedy, it reaches the court of law.
In case of direct and proved breach of contract, the court can provide relief to the other party by awarding a remedy borne by the violator.
The violator needs to compensate the other party for the damages caused due to the breach of contract. According to the extent of the damage caused by the responsible party, the amount of compensation is decided.
When the damages caused cannot be recovered through compensation then the court can ask the violator for a specific performance. Specific performance can be defined as any activity directed by the court that the breaching party must perform. But it is done when the compensation does not suffice the damages incurred. Generally, the court of law rules specific performance as a remedy when the product or service promised in the agreement is unique. Such as the real estate industry is referred to as unique where there cannot be a duplicate property with same facilities. But even the court will enforce this specific performance on the violator when the agreement made is fair and equitable without providing any undue advantage to any party.
Cancellation and Restitution
The non-breaching party can get authorization from the court of law the cancel the contract and sue for restitution when the violator get compelled to bring back the position it was before the contract was formulated.
These are the main consequences of contract breach (Contractsandagreements.co.uk, 2015). Breaching contract is a serious offence and a common reason of lawsuits.
Silence as Acceptance
Generally, silence or not responding to the offer does not get considered as a sign of acceptance. However, in some specific cases or situations, silence can be treated as acceptance. Then the question arises, when the silence of a party can be regarded as a sign of acceptance? Suppose a person X sends a packet of food to another person Y and also informs that the former expects payment for it. If person Y without agreeing eats the food then this activity can be regarded as acceptance. There are some specific requirements which when sufficed can be treated as acceptance (Legalmatch.com, 2016):
- One party has made the offer while the other did not reject the offer
- The offerer renders a particular service to the offeree
- The offerer provides the service at his own free will without being influenced by any other person
- The offerer informs the offeree as the former anticipates and expects a payment from the latter
- The offeree has complete knowledge of all the above-mentioned events
- The offeree should have used or accepts the service in some form which can be interpreted as acceptance under court of law.
This rule can cover other formal exchange of services other than the sale of goods. But unsolicited goods sent to people without formal acknowledgement cannot fall into this category. It would be treated as gifts.
Contract law : The basics
To make a contract viable under law it must accomplish certain requirements. It includes an offer and its acceptance, consideration, purpose, eligible parties and their consent. Other than these general rules, the associated parties, depending on the type of contract may need to fulfill additional requirements.
The term contract refers to the agreement in written form which includes the following elements. It must be verified under the court of law.
- Introduction clauses (provisions)
- Defining the parties and key terms
- Statement (s) of purpose
- Obligations of each party
- Assurances and warranties
- Signature block
Both the parties (can be even more) contemplate about the prospective deal by examining the arrangement and the risks associated with it.
Phase 1: Evaluate the deal
Both the parties (can be even more) contemplate about the prospective deal by examining the arrangement and the risks associated with it.
Phase 2: Reaching the agreement
In this stage, the parties negotiate and agree on the final deal with stated agreements. Then with accordance to the consent, the written contract is finalized which will act as documentary evidence.
Phase 3: Implementation and performance
The agreement after signed by all gets implemented. All the parties must remain obligatory towards their agreement and perform accordingly. If any of the party fails to perform their task, the other party can draw them into a legal suite.
Contracts and the Law
The basic contract is formed when two separate parties enter into an agreement and obliges to perform their duties responsibly. With the term party, it can refer to any organization, person or a corporation which enters into an agreement. The agreement is legally enforceable. The main laws which govern the contract law are:
The Common Law :
Contract Law Sample - Business and Contract Law
In order to answer this question, a discussion on the rule of Indoor management is needed. When an employee or authority from a company on behalf of the company, enters into a contract with any outsider, it is considered that the company as a whole is entering into the said contract. A noteworthy case in this regard is Bank of New Zealand v. Fiberi Pty Ltd . The outsider ....
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Contract Law Sample - Contract & Agency Law
(a) “The law affects a business from the moment it commences until the time it isdissolved.”Discuss the above statement in the context of three (3) key functions of business lawaffecting commercial activity in Singapore. In your analysis, you should providespecific examples...
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Contract Law Sample - IRAC method
Barry decides to hire some ladders and planks from a local equipment hiring business to enable him to paint the exterior of his house. When he collects the hired goods, he is asked to sign a hiring agreement. Barry asks the employee of the hiring firm why he has to sign an agreement, to which the employee replies, "It is just for insurance purposes" ...
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