An offer sets out the terms upon which an individual is willing to enter into a binding contractual relationship with another person. It is a promise to be bound on particular terms, which is capable of acceptance. The essential factor to emphasise about an offer is that it may, through acceptance by the offeree, result in a legally enforceable contract. The person who makes the offer is the offeror; the person who receives the offer is the offeree. Offers, once accepted, may be legally enforced but not all statements will amount to an offer. It is important, therefore, to be able to distinguish what the law will treat as an offer from other statements which will not form the basis of an enforceable contract. An offer must be capable of acceptance. It must therefore not be too vague (Scammel v Ouston (1941)). In Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co (1893) it was held that an offer could be made to the whole world and could be accepted and made binding through the conduct of the offeree.
In addition an offer should be distinguished, from the following: (i) A mere statement of intention Such a statement cannot form the basis of a contract even although the party to whom it was made acts on it (Re Fickus (1900)).
(ii) A mere supply of information As in Harvey v Facey (1893) where it was held that the defendant’s telegram, in which he stated a minimum price he would accept for property, was simply a statement of information, and was not an offer capable of being accepted by the plaintiff.
Invitation to treat
Invitations to treat are distinct from offers in that rather than being offers to others, they are in fact invitations to others to make offers. The person to whom the invitation to treat is made becomes the actual offeror, and the maker of the invitation becomes the offeree. An essential consequence of this distinction is that, in line with the ordinary rules of offer and acceptance, the person extending the invitation to treat is not bound to accept...
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