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Chapter 13 FORMATION OF CONTRACTS: OFFER AND ACCEPTANCE. Requirements of an Offer. The offer must have contractual intent . This intent is lacking if the statement is merely an invitation to negotiate, a statement of intention, or an agreement to agree at a later date.

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requirements of an offer
Requirements of an Offer
  • The offer must have contractual intent.
    • This intent is lacking if the statement is merely an invitation to negotiate, a statement of intention, or an agreement to agree at a later date.
    • Newspaper ads, price quotations, and catalog prices are ordinarily invitations to negotiate.
requirements of an offer1
Requirements of an Offer
  • An offer must be definite, with terms that are clear and spelled out.
      • Definite by incorporation.
      • Implied Terms (by law or conduct).
    • Exceptions: good faith performance, requirements and output contracts.
  • Offer must be communicated to Offeree.
termination of offer
Termination of Offer
  • Revocation. The ordinary offer may be revoked at any time by the offeror. All that is required is the showing of intent to revoke and the communication of that intent to the offeree.
  • By definition, an attempted acceptance made after the offer has been terminated has no effect.
termination of offer1
Termination of Offer
  • An offer is also terminated by:
    • Counteroffer is the express rejection of the offer with a new offer.
    • Lapse of the time stated in the offer or of a reasonable time when none is stated.
    • Death or disability of either party.
    • Change of law that makes illegal a contract based on the particular offer.
termination of an offer
Termination of an Offer

Revocation Prior to Acceptance*

By Offeror

Death or Incapacity

Time Limitations Placed in the Offer


By Offeree


Death or Incapacity

*Options and firm offers excepted

acceptance of offer
Acceptance of Offer
  • When the offer is accepted, a contract arises.
  • Only the offeree can accept an offer, and the acceptance must be of the offer exactly as made without any qualification or change.
  • The acceptance is any manifestation of intent to agree to the terms of the offer.
  • Ordinarily, silence or failure to act does not constitute acceptance.
acceptance of an offer
Acceptance of an Offer

Offeror makes

an offer

Offeree accepts offer


Offeree changes or

adds terms

Offeree rejects




No contract



Original offeror

accepts counteroffer


Original offeror changes or adds terms

Original offeror

rejects counteroffer


acceptance of an offer1
Acceptance of an Offer
  • An acceptance does not exist until the words or conduct demonstrating assent to the offer is communicated to the offeror.
    • Mailbox Rule: Acceptance by mail takes effect at the time and place when and where the letter is mailed or the fax is transmitted.
    • RULE: Acceptance upon dispatch, revocation upon receipt. 
mailbox rule is there a contract
Mailbox Rule: Is There a Contract?

FACTS:September 1, 1997 Seller mails an offer to Buyer

September 2, 1997 Buyer receives offer

Buyer mails acceptance

September 3, 1997 Seller calls to revoke offer

Buyer says he has already accepted

September 4, 1997 The acceptance arrives

Is there a contract?

Assume the same scenario as above, but the buyer’s acceptance never arrives. Assuming the buyer has adequate proof of mailing the acceptance, is there a contract?

Yes, in both cases. Proper acceptance is effective when sent, even if never received.

acceptance of an offer2
Acceptance of an Offer
  • What method of acceptance is reasonable?
  • Telephone and Electronic Acceptance.
    • Telephone: acceptance upon phone call.
    • Email? Upon dispatch of email (send).
  • In an auction sale, asking for bids is an invitation to negotiate.
  • A person making a bid is making an offer, and the acceptance of the highest bid by the auctioneer is an acceptance of that offer and gives rise to a contract.
  • When the auction sale is without reserve, the auctioneer must accept the highest bid.