The Means of Acceptance in Contract Law


Credence is the 2nd phase of detecting whether an understanding has been reached under classical contract theory is to look for an credence which matches the offer that has been made. No peculiar expression is required for a valid credence. As has been explained above, an offer must be in a signifier whereby a simple acquiescence to it is sufi¬?cient to take to a contract being formed. It is in many instances, hence, plenty for an credence to take the signifier of the individual to whom the offer has been made merely stating ‘yes, I agree’ .

In some state of affairss, nevertheless, peculiarly where there is a class of dialogues between the parties, it may go more difi¬?cult to find exactly the point when the parties have exchanged a matching offer and credence. Unless they do fit precisely, so the classical theory requires, there can be no contract.

An ‘offer’ and an ‘acceptance’ must fit?t together like two pieces of a saber saw mystifier. If they are non the same, they will non slot together, and the image will be uncomplete. At times, as we shall see, the English tribunals have adopted a slightly i¬‚exible attack to the demand for a precise equality. Nevertheless, once it is decided that there is a lucifer, it is as if the two pieces of the saber saw had been antecedently treated with ‘superglue’ , for one time in place it will be really hard, if non impossible, to draw them apart.

The credence can be in many circumstance in order to pass on the credence of offer. First is acceptance by behavior which normally in one-sided contract, the credence will ever be by behavior. This issue was considered in Brogden V Metropolitan Railway where the complainants sent the suspects a bill of exchange understanding for the supply of a certain measure of coal per hebdomad from 1 January 1872, at ?1 per ton.

The suspects completed the bill of exchange by adding the name of an arbiter, signed it and returned it to the complainants. This constituted an offer. The plaintiffs’ director, nevertheless, merely put the signed understanding into a drawer. There was no communicating of credence by the complainants. Coal was ordered and delivered on the footings specii¬?ed in the contract for a period of clip, until there was a difference between the parties. The suspects so argued that there was no contract, because the complainants had ne’er accepted their offer, as contained in the signed understanding. The House of Lords coni¬?rmed that it was non plenty that the complainants should hold decided to accept at that place had to be some external manifestation of credence. In this instance, nevertheless, that was supplied by the fact that the complainants had placed orders on the footing of the understanding. The suspects should hence be taken to be bound by its footings. [ 1 ]

Following is credence by silence which can be proven in the instance Felthouse V Bindley ( 1862 ) where the uncle was negociating to purchase a Equus caballus from his nephew. The uncle wrote to his nephew offering a peculiar amount and stating ‘If I hear no more about him, I consider the Equus caballus mine’ . The nephew did non react, but told an auctioneer to take this Equus caballus from a extroverted auction. The auctioneer omitted to make so, and the Equus caballus was sold to a 3rd party. The uncle sued the auctioneer, and the inquiry arose as to whether the uncle had made a binding contract for the purchase of the Equus caballus. There was no contract, because the nephew had ne’er communicated. The instance was held that his purpose to accept his uncle’s offer. It is true that he had taken an action ( taking the Equus caballus from the auction ) which objectively could be taken to hold indicated his purpose to accept, but because his uncle knew nil of this at the clip, it was non effectual to finish the contract [ 2 ] .

Last is the credence by station which I will explicate in item the ground by the tribunal for the postal credence regulation and in what fortunes will be postal credence non run. I will besides include the relevant instance survey in this subdivision.


A demand of communicating will non, nevertheless, answer all jobs. In the modern universe communicating can take many signifiers such as face-to-face conversations, telephone, letters, facsimiles, or electronic mail. In some of these, there will be a hold between the sending of an credence and its coming to the attending of the offerer. The jurisprudence of contract has to hold regulations, hence, to do clear what is meant by ‘communication’ . The simplest regulation would be to state that no communicating is effectual until it is received and understood by the individual to whom it is addressed. This is, in consequence, the regulation that applies to offers, though, as we shall see, there are some instances which suggest that it may be possible to accept an offer of which you are incognizant.

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These instances are of doubtful authorization, nevertheless, and can merely perchance use in really restricted fortunes. In any instance, they merely suggest that in some state of affairss, communicating of an offer may non be necessary. Where communicating of the offer is required, which is the instance in virtually all state of affairss, it is safe to state that communicating means that the individual to whom the offer is addressed is cognizant of it. Why should the place be any different as respects credences? The job i¬?rst arose in relation to the station, where the hold is likely to be longest. By and large talking, there will be a hold of at least 12 to 18 hours between the sending of an credence by station, and its reception by the addressee.

Harmonizing to the Enfores V Miles Far East Corporation ( 1955 ) instance, it province that long-understood demand for credence to be communicated, what constitutes effectual communicating can be problematic. Here is the fact of the Enfores V Miles Far East Corporation instance. Enfores sent a telex massage from England offering to buy 100 dozenss of Cathodes from the Miles Far East Corporation in London. The offer was accept by the Dutch agent. Communication took topographic point when a clerk type a massage that was at the same clip and automatically printed by the recipient’s machine. Enfores argued that the contract was complete when the offerer received the telex massage of credence in England. But Miles Far East said that the contract was finish when credence massage was sent in the Holland. The tribunal held that the contract was made in England because to amount to an effectual credence the credence needed to be communicated to the offeree.


In the instance Adam Lindsell ( 1818 ) the suspects sent a missive to the complainants offering wool for sale, and he inquiring for a answer ‘in class of post’ . The missive was misdirected by the suspects, and arrived later than would usually hold been the instance. The complainants replied at one time accepting, but the suspects, holding decided that because of the hold the complainants were non traveling to accept, had already sold the wool elsewhere. The complainants sued for breach of contract. The tribunal decided that to necessitate a posted credence to get at its. The tribunal held that finish before it could be effectual would be impractical and in efi¬?cient. The acceptor would non be able to take any action on the contract until it had been coni¬?rmed that the credence had arrived.

The tribunal felt that this might ensue in each side waiting for coni¬?rmation of reception of the last communicational ini¬?nitum. This would non advance concern efi¬?cacy. It would be much better if, every bit shortly as the missive was posted, the acceptor could continue on the footing that a contract had been made, and take action consequently. The complainants hence succeeded, the suspects were in breach of contract. The tribunal, in coming to this decision, was therefore giving precedence to the practicalities of making concern over the inquiry of whether, at the clip the contract was formed, the parties were in understanding. It was rather possible that by the clip the missive of credence was posted, the offerer had had a alteration of head and sent a backdown of the offer, or made a contract with person else. However, because in the court’s position the behavior of concern would in general be better served by giving the offeree certainty in this state of affairs, the postal regulation was established [ 3 ]

The ground that have been given by tribunal for the Postal regulation is, an exclusion to the general regulation mentioning that an credence is merely create when communicated straight to the offerer. The posting ordinance stated, by contrast, that credence takes consequence when a missive is posted. It besides province that if an offer are made by station, so the credence are made during the clip of station.

While the determination in the Henthorn v Fraser ( 1892 ) is it was held to be sensible to post credence in response to an unwritten offer because the parties lived some distance off from each other [ 4 ] . This is the brief about the instance that I understand which is on 7th July Henthorn from Birkenhead, called office of land society in Liverpool. Henthorn negotiated to purchase some houses belonging to the land society. Secretary agreed to sell to him, giving him an option of purchase for 14 yearss at ?750.

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After that, on 8th July Morning, Another individual called, offered ?760 for the belongings, offer accepted. At 12-1 autopsy, Secretary withdrawed the offer made to Henthorn. 3.50pm, Claimant delivered missive accepting the offer, but missive arrived at 8.30 autopsy, after the office was closed. At 5pm, Withdrawal offer arrived at Birkenhead. Secretary opened the missive on the following forenoon. Claimant sued for specific public presentation. The tribunal held the instance for specific public presentation granted, Postal Rule applies as credence occurred before. Defendant was told to sell the land.

In decision, the offeree in Henthorn, on the other manus, surely knew of the offeror’s promise to give him an option “for 14 days” and rather perchance relied on it. Arguably, hence, the “mailbox” regulation should work in favour of offerees but non against them. But this might let offerees to theorize at the offeror’s disbursal, utilizing the telephone or telegraph to catch a missive of credence in theodolite when the market shifts [ 5 ]


Here is some instances that exception to the postal regulation. First is Quenerduaine V Cole ( 1883 ) which is the suspect made an offer by wire where the complainant be told to accept by missive. The tribunal said that an offer which are made by wire, shows that the speedy credence are required so that the postal regulation was non applied.

Second in the Household Fire and Carriage Accident Insurance Company v Grant which Grant offer to purchase the portions from Household Fire and Carriage Accident Insurance Company. Then the company accept Grant offer and allotted the portions to him. Subsequently, the latter of allocation was sent to him to the reference that he give. The latter ne’er reached to him until a month subsequently so he received the missive that ask him for a payment of a partially paid and demand by the company for Grant to pay the following episode due on portions. So that the tribunal conclude that Grant does non have his allocation subsequently. This is means in pattern a contract complete upon the credence of an offer being posted, but apt to be put an terminal to by an accident in the station, would be more arch than a contract merely adhering upon the parties to it upon the credence really making the offeror.

Third in Yates Building Co. Ltd v. Pulleyn & A ; Son ( York ) Ltd ( 1975 ) instance which they make a provinces that any demands about the method of credence must be clearly stated to be valid. In this instance, Pulleyn give Yates to purchase a edifice land. ‘The option hereby granted shall be exercisable by notice in composing given by or on behalf of Yates to Pulleyns or to Pulleyns ‘ canvassers at any clip between April 6 1973 and May 6 1973 such notice to be sent by registered or recorded bringing station to the registered office of Pulleyns or the offices of their said canvassers. On Monday April 30 1973 Yates ‘s canvassers posted a missive to Pulleyns ‘ canvassers to officially exert the option ; they enclosed a check for ?1,890 for the sedimentation.

The missive was sent by ordinary station and non by registered or recorded bringing station but it arrived good in clip. It was opened by Pulleyn ‘s canvassers at some clip on or before Friday May 4 1973. On that Friday Pulleyn ‘s canvassers wrote back to Yates ‘s canvassers returning the check for the sedimentation and said: ‘we write to admit reception today of your missive of April 30 1973 with its enclosure. You will remember that clause 2 of the option understanding provides for notice to be sent by a registered or recorded bringing station. Your missive was non so sent. Yates brought proceedings for specific public presentation, but the justice refused it. He held that this demand that the missive had to be sent by registered or recorded bringing station was a demand which must be complied with, and as it had non been complied with, there was no contract. Yates appealed. [ 6 ]

Fourth is Tinn V Hoffman ( 1873 ) instance which means that where a demand for a certain type of answer has been made, an every bit effectual manner of communicating will besides be deemed acceptable provided it is merely as speedy and does non disfavor the offerer. An offer by electronic mail could hence be accepted by telephone [ 7 ] . In this instance the justice held that an credence could be effectual even though it departed from the diction of the offer by doing express some term which the jurisprudence would in any instance imply. And answer add some new proviso by manner of indulgence to the offer may be credence. Conversely, an credence in which acceptor ask for excess clip to pay may be effectual, so longs as he makes it clear that he is prepared to execute in conformity with the term of the offer event if his petition is refused.

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In the instance in Re London and Northern Bank ( 1900 ) , the missive of credence was non decently posted because the missive of credence was handed to a mailman merely authorised to present mail and non to roll up it. In this instance, even though the missive was really posted, the tribunals held that passing the missive to a mailman was non recognized manner of ‘posting’ . They referred to the existent “Postal Guide” which clearly described instructions where mailmans were allowed to take letters merely from a station box. It is evident that the tribunals wanted to forestall the state of affairs where the postal regulation would use to any agencies of ‘posting’ or ‘sending’ missive and hence restricted it merely to Post Office and its guidelines. It is imperative to retrieve that the postal regulation will besides non be applicable where it would do manifest incommodiousness and absurdness.


It is clear from the abovementioned, that the application of the postal regulation can hold different fluctuations and deductions. When sing its map, it is indispensable to cognize when an credence becomes lawfully effectual and besides whether it can be revoked. The ‘arguable’ point when sing relevancy of postal regulation in 21st century is that in position of tribunals, before the credence is made the offerer can name the offer off, but one time the credence has even made this is no longer possible. [ 8 ] Fundamentally, the offer may be revoked by the offerer merely until that clip it is being accepted and moreover the annulment must be communicated to the offeree otherwise desired annulment will be uneffective.

In this instance, there are two instance that relate with this state of affairs. First is Byrne & A ; Co v. Van Tienhoven & A ; Co ( 1880 ) where Van Tienhoven mailed proposal to sell 1,000 boxes of Sn home bases to Byrne at fixed monetary value on October 1st. subsequently, Van Tienhoven mailed a annulment of offer on October 8Thursday. But Byrne does non have the annulment until 20Thursday. In the center on October 11ThursdayByrne receive the original offers and accepted by wire and turned about and resold the ware to a 3rd party on the 15Thursday. He brought an action for non-performance. However, the tribunals confirmed the long-standing thought that any annulment of an offer must be communicated to the offeree, although once more there are some exclusions to this regulation.

Following instance is Dickinson v. Dodds ( 1876 ) instance which the annulment can be informed by a dependable 3rd party. This can proved by the state of affairs where the Dodds accepted an offer from a 3rd party to buy the house. Dodds so asked a friend to state Dickinson that the offer was withdrawn. On hearing the intelligence, the Dickinson went unit of ammunition to the house first thing Friday forenoon purporting to accept the offer. He so brought an action seeking specific public presentation of the contract. In this instance the tribunal held that the offer had been efficaciously revoked. Therefore no contract existed between the parties. There was no duty to maintain the offer unfastened until Friday since the claimant had provided no consideration in exchange for the promise. The offerer is free to retreat the offer at any clip before credence takes topographic point unless a sedimentation has been paid [ 9 ]


In order to use the postal regulation, both parties need to truly understand the status of their contract. They must aware to the hazard that they will faced during the period of affair understanding such as delaying of the missive, the missing of the missive and besides misdirect the missive. Not merely that, while the poster of the credence, they must cognize at the clip they post, the credence are made. Furthermore, it is apparent that the statements associating to keeping or abandonment of the general regulation are advanced, it is besides clear from the aforementioned that in order to supply the valid decision the legislators have to see many facets of communicating that is conducted by electronic agencies. In add-on, it is indispensable to besides asses the regulation applicable to annulment of contract as the engineering development has changed the manner how and when the credence takes topographic point and therefore it can be frequently prejudiced to adhere offerer and leave options mostly unfastened for the offeree.