Currently, majority of people do not know much about contract law. Actually, we are signing contracts everyday. For example: Buying candies in a shop. There are two types of contract (written and verbal agreement). A contract is made by orally, by conduct and in writing. It also consists of an agreement, consideration and legally binding. There are eight elements of contract law, namely offer, acceptance, consideration, capacity, legal relations, legality and agreement. In this essay, I am going discuss the offer and acceptance particularly.
In addition, an offer is when an offeror(the person who makes the offers) proposes a set of terms to an offeree(the person who accepts the offer). However, people might be in doubt about the difference between “offer” and “invitation to treat”. Invitation to treat is an invitation to make an offer. It is not an offer. This case “Fisher v Bell” shows us how to recognize an invitation to treat and an offer. It was about the defendant Bell was accused of offering a sale for a dangerous weapon.
He had displayed a flick knife in his shop window and sold it for 4shillings.
However, the judge said he was not guilty as he did not sell it to anyone and the display was only an invitation to treat. A display of products in shops is only inviting consumers to make an offer. Here is another good example. The case “Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists Ltd (1953)” was about Boots (the defendant) was sued of selling drugs without a pharmacist present in the supermarket. However, a pharmacist was near the till. Therefore, it depends on where the contract was made. If the contract was made near the till, the defendants would not have been guilty.
On the other hand, if the contract was made where the drugs was displayed, the defendant would have been guilty. Consequently, the defendant was not guilty as the display of goods on supermarket shelves is only an invitation to treat. A customer makes an offer to buy the goods. Furthermore, how do we judge a good offer? The case “Lefkowitz v Great Mineapolis Surplus Store” demonstrates what a good offer is and the differences between an “invitation to treat” and an “offer”. It was about Great Mineapolis Surplus Store (Defendant) which advertised in a newspaper for a sale on fur coats.
Lefkowitz (Claimant) was the first customer who wanted to purchase the product. However, they refused to sell the advertised items as they said the offer was for women. In this circumstance, the trail was started. The Claimant won the case as the judge ruled that it was a clear, definite and explicit advertisement. Therefore, not every advertisement is an invitation to treat. When somebody’s promotion is clear, definite, explicit and no negotiation, it could be an offer. Following this, I am going to talk about acceptance. Acceptance means a contract comes into existence when an offer is validly accepted.
Here is a case “Felthouse v Bindley(1862)” which is about accepting an offer properly. The claimant Felthouse wanted to buy a horse from his nephew for $30. 75. Therefore, he wrote a letter to his nephew and said if he heard no reply, he would take the horse. The nephew wanted to sell at $30. 75. Therefore, he didn’t reply to him. However, the court held that there was no acceptance and so there was no contract. The case carried out that an offer must be communicated, people cannot accept an offer by saying or doing nothing.
Some of you might be wondering how to accept an offer in some particular situation, such as, in an auction, by post. The case “Heathcote Ball v Barry(2000)” demonstrates that where an auction takes place with reserve, each bid is an offer which is accepted by the auctioneer. Where the auction takes place without reserve, the auctioneer makes an unilateral offer which is accepted by the placing of the highest bid. Furthermore, there are certain rules apply in offer and acceptance by post. Firstly, an offer is only effective when it actually arrives.
Secondly, Acceptance by post is also only effective when it actually received by the offeror. However, it could be effective when the offeree sent it out in some situations. After that, I am going to talk about “termination of an offer”. An offer cannot be accepted when it has been terminated and there are several ways of ending it. First of all, when one party refuses the offer of the other, the offer is terminated, it called refusal. Secondly, when the offeree does not accept the original offer but makes another offer which changes the terms or conditions, then the original offer is ended, it called counter-offer.
For example: Kenneth wants to sell his computer for $300 but Tim wants to buy it for $250. In this circumstance, the first offer is not existed. Thirdly, the offeror might cancel or withdraw the offer at any time before acceptance, unless money to keep the offer open has been given, it called revocation. Following this, “lapse of time” means a period of time the seller gives for sale. For instance, there was an advertisement about selling a pair of shoe in 2weeks time. After 2weeks, Nicole wanted to buy it. In this situation, it is impossible for her to purchase it as the offer was terminated.
Last but not least, the offer can be cancelled because of one party is dead. In conclusion, it is important for us to know about all of these things which I have mentioned in this essay. For example, an offer must be communicated, the differences between offer and invitation to treat, in what situations the offer will be terminated, what makes an good offer, how to accept an offer in an auction or by post, etc. The reason why I am talking about these is it is essential in contract law as we cannot make a contract without noticing these things correctly. Also, these cases are testing how good the law is.
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