In its general sense, an offer is an indication or proposal by one person or party (offeror) to another (offeree). It consists of one party promising to do or give something for the other party’s promise to do or give something in return. There must be willingness to contract on certain terms, made with the intention that it shall become binding as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom it is addressed.
An offer can be given in one of many forms which are: letter, newspaper, fax, email, and conduct (if suitable and all terms are understood by both parties). There are also different types of offers, one which involves a specific individual or group, and one which refers to the world as a whole. A unilateral offer is an offer which the offeree accepts by performing his or her side of the bargain. A bilateral offer is responded to with an exchange of promises between two parties.
Another area in making an offer is an invitation to treat. This is not an offer, but an indication of a person’s willingness to negotiate a contract. Or in other words, it invites someone else to make an offer for what they are displaying. An example of a case where an invitation to treat was present was in Fisher V Bell, it was established that, where goods are displayed in a shop together with a price label, such display is treated as an invitation to treat by the seller, and not an offer. The offer is instead made when the customer presents the item to the cashier together with payment. Acceptance occurs at the point the cashier takes payment.
One of the rules of an offer concerns its termination. An offer may come to an end in various ways. So long as this happens before acceptance then there cannot be a contract. (Of course if someone tried to withdraw an offer after acceptance, this would simply be a breach.).These are now explained bellow:
With revocation, 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. I find this rule to be quite satisfactory as first of all, if no one has accepted the offer and the offeror wants to cancel it, what reason would s/he need to keep it open for. Also, I think it is also necessary to communicate revocation of an offer as, if someone has thoughts about whether they want to take up this offer or not, not informing them that you have revoked it will give them the excuse to use it against you.
However, an offer may not be revoked if it has been encapsulated in an option. So in other words, if the offeror has, for a consideration, promised not to withdraw the offer for a certain time, they must keep the offer open until the specified time.
If the offer is one that leads to a unilateral contract, then 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. Other reasons for termination of an offer that are held to be valid so long as the offer has not been accepted are: If the offer may simply lapse, either because the offeror makes it clear that it will lapse after a certain time or because it has become stale. An offer may also lapse on the death of the offeror. It is also possible to stipulate in the offer that it will come to an end if a certain event happens or does not happen. A final reason that an offer is allowed to be terminated is if the offeree makes a counter-offer. With a counter offer, the mirror image rule states that if you are to accept an offer, you must accept it exactly, without modifications, if you change the offer in any way, this is a counter offer and kills the original offer....