Glossary of Contract Law Cases
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- What is the definition of an offer ?
- The offer is an expression of willingness to contract made with the intention (actual or apparent) that it is to become binding on the person making it as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom it is addressed
- A display of goods at a fixed price in a shop window is an invitation to treat, not an offer.
- Timothy v Simpson (1834)
- A display of goods at a fixed price in a self service store is an invitation to treat, not an offer.
- Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd (1953)
- A notice at the entrance to an automatic car park may be an offer which can be accepted by driving in.
- Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd (1971)
- A display of Deck Chairs for hire has been held to be an offer.
- Chapelton v Barry UDC (1940)
- Auctions - The lot displayed is the invitation to treat. Individual bids are offers, the fall of the auctioneers hammer is acceptance
- British Car Auctions v Wright 1972
- Goods Displayed in a shop window - are an invitation to treat. The offer is made buy the customer
- Fisher v Bell 1961
- Advertisements - Generally are an invitation to treat. A person responds with an offer to buy
- Partridge v Crittenden 1968
- Auctions Catalogues are a statement of intent not an offer. A lot can be withdrawn without consequences
- Harris v Nickerson 1873
- Invitations to council house tenenants to buy their council houses were an invitation to treat
- Gibson v Manchester City Council 1979
- Invitations to suppliers to tender for goods or services are an invitation to treat.
- Spencer v Harding 1870
- Statement of a price is not an offer, it is an invitation to treat. The other party must still offer to buy at the price
- Harvey v Facey 1893
- Unilateral offers expressed in advertisement are offers and not invitations to treat
- Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co 1893
- If a request for tenders states that the contract will be given to the highest (or lowest) bidder. Then this is an offer which is accepted by making the highest (or lowest bid)
- Harvela Investments Ltd v Royal Trust Co of Canada 1985
- A valid offer must be communicated to the offeree. It would be unfair for a person to be bound by an offer they were unaware of.
- Taylor v Laird 1856
- The offeree must have clear knowledge of the existence of an offer for it to be enforceable.
- Inland Revenue Commissioners v Fry 2001
- If the offer is made to "The Whole World" it can be accepted by anyone who has genuine notice of it
- Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co 1893
- The terms of the offer must be certain. Any vague words may invalidate the agreement
- Guthing v Lynn 1831
- An offer may be withdrawn at any time before the offeree has accepted it.
- Routledge v Grant 1828
- A bid at an auction is an offer and may be withdrawn at any time before acceptance by the fall of the hammer
- Payne v Cave 1789
- To be valid the revocation of an offer must be communicated to the offeree
- Byrne v Van Tienhoven 1880
- A revocation of an offer is valid if communicated to the offeree by a reliable third party
- Dickinson v Dodds 1876
- A unilateral offer cannot be withdrawn if the offeree is in the act of performing the acceptance.
- Errington v Errington and Woods 1952
- How may an offer come to an end
- 1. Acceptance and the formation of a contract.
2. Because the specified time for acceptance has passed.
3. Because a reasonable time has passed causing the offer to lapse.
4. By failure to comply with a condition precedent
5. Because of the death of either party
- An offer will lapse after a reasonable period of time. "Reasonable" is a question of fact in each case
- Ramsgate Victoria Hotel v Monteforte 1866
- An offer will lapse if a condition precedent is not met. e.g. an offer of employment made subjest to satisfactory references or a medical report
- Financings v Stimson 1962
- The death of the offeror terminates the offer if notified to the offeree. If the offeree accepts without such knowledge a contract may be formed
- Bradbury v Morgan 1862
- If the offeree dies it is unlikely that the executors or administrators of the estate can accept on their behalf
- Reynolds v Atherton 1921
- A machine can make an offer which is accepted by using it.
- Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking 1971
- An offer can be made by conduct. E.g. Sending different goods or a different quantity in reply to an order may be considered an offer to sell the goods tendered
- Hart v Mills 1846
- Inactivity alone is unlikely to ever constitute an offer
- Unisys International Services Ltd v Eastern Counties Newspaper Group 1991
- Offers are treated according to the objective test. If a reasonable person would conclude an offer is being made, then it is regardless of the subjective intention fo the offeror
- Moran v University College Salford (No 2) 1993
- If the offeree knows despit the objective appearance that the offeror does not intend to be bound then the "offer" cannot be accepted.
- 5. IGNAZIO MESSSINA & CO v POLSKIE LINIE OCEANICZNA (1995)
- An offer sent through the post is made where it was posted.
- TAYLOR v JOANS (1875)
- A restaurant menu is an invitation to treat
- GUILDFORD v LOCKYER (1975)
- A pile of deck chairs displayed for hire has been hald to be an offer.
- CHAPELTON v BARRY UDC 1940
- Circulation of a price list is an invitation to treat
- GRAINGER & SON v GOUGH (1896)
- Rewards. e.g. for information leading to the capture of a criminal or the return of a lost pet are unilateral offers.
- GIBBONS v PROCTOR (1891)
- If several people one at a time undertake the act to claim a reward only the first is entitled.
- LANCASTER v WALSH (1838)
- If several people together claim a reward they are entitled to equal shares
- LOCKHART v BARNARD (1845)
- An attempt to vary the terms of the offer is a counter offer, which is a rejection of the offer that is no longer open to acceptance
- Hyde v Wrench 1840
- A rejection of an ancilliary subject may still be a countr offer, although the main terms are accepted
- Jones v Daniel 1894
- A mere enquiry that does not seek to vary the terms is not a counter offer.
- Stevenson v McLean 1880
- If arrangements continue after a counter offer is made. Then the terms of the counter offer are included in the contract
- Davies & Co v William Old 1969
- The courts will not allow a party to benefit from both the counter offer and the original offer
- Pars Technology v City Link Transport Holdings Ltd 1999
- Past consideration is not good consideration.
- Eastwood v Kenyon 1840
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