Business Law and Ethics

Subject: Business
Type: Process Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1287
Topics: Business Law, Business Ethics, Business Plan


The essay will be centred towards two critical components of a contractual agreement, i.e. acceptance and offer. In this case analysis, it shall be evaluated whether Bert had legally entered into any kind of contractual agreement with the other parties or not. A binding contract is created only when an offer made by the offeror is accepted by the offeree. In general context, if an offer is not accepted then no such legal proceedings can be conducted. The contract for sale of 1955 Jowett Javelin was made verbally between William and Bert. However, the main point of conflict is the offer given by Bert was later accepted by William and even communicated. To a certain extent, there is a form of legal binding witnessed between both the parties. The focus of this study will be on analysing the case scenario from multiple perspectives in order to advise Bert. 


According to the U.K. contract law, a binding contract is established when an offer is accepted by both the parties. In the given case scenario, Bert did not primarily have an intention to sell off the car. The disclosure of the offer price i.e. £10,500 was made so as to address Tom’s question. At the first instance, there was no such legal binding between Tom and Bert. There is a difference between information exchange and an offer. As in Harvey versus Facey case, the Privy Council stated that there was no such legal contract established between the parties. The response of the party was merely done in order to address the request for information. Therefore, lack of evidence on intention to form an offer signifies no contractual terms between Tom and Bert. However, Bert shall be subjected to legal obligations if there is an intention to offer. In Carlill versus Carbolic Smoke Ball Co, it was revealed that advertisements are also a medium to communicate intention to offer. The defendant in the given case law put across an argument that there was no such sign of acceptance within the advertisement. Arguably, the Court of Appeal portrayed the case scenario to be a unilateral contractual agreement.  For instance, the advertisement given by Bert reflected a clear intention because the price for the car was clearly mentioned, i.e. £11,000, which demonstrates the ‘intent’ of the party (McKendrick, 2014).  The ambiguity in such claims can be reduced through including some time-limit. From the given case scenario, it is evident that when William contacted Bert after going through the advertisement, then a time-limit was specified for the purchase. Bert clearly communicated that until Friday he shall keep the vintage car only for William. The Court of Appeal can undertake serious actions against Bert because the intention of acceptance has been highlighted in the last communication between both the parties. 

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As per the U.K. contract law, termination of offers is also possible under certain circumstances. In case of Bert, the clause for termination of the initial offer does not hold relevance. There are two conditions under which an offer can be terminated, i.e. lapse of time and death of offeree or offeror. Both the legal conditions for termination of offer do not hold significance in the given case scenario. It can be stated that time-period of specific offer tends to vary across subject matter. For instance, in Ramsgate Victoria Hotel versus Montefoire, the offer was immediately terminated after certain time-frame because the offer made was on purchasing shares.  Arguably, Bert agrees to sell off the car at £10,500 and gives an opportunity to William to think about the last offer until Friday. The advertised car was supposed to be sold off not before Saturday. Hence, Bert cannot legally enter into an agreement, prior to terminating the initial offer. In the contract law, ‘acceptance’ forms a critical factor (MacMillan and Stone, 2012). There are three distinct legal rules binding the concept of acceptance, i.e. it is essential to communicate the acceptance to the offeree, a certain agreement must be made and acceptance terms should be properly aligned with the offer-related terms. 

‘Communication’ is an important element in the given case scenario. In any scenario, an offer becomes effective only when the acceptance is accurately received by the offeror. The case law Felthouse versus Bindley can be taken into account for analysing the given case scenario from a completely different perspective. Bert shall continue his contract with Harry if he does not fall under any legal obligation in relation to his previous offers. It can be argued that communicating the offer acceptance does not give birth to any kind of legal acceptance. To be more precise, offeror should firstly receive the communicated acceptance. Another interesting aspect within the U.K. contract law is ‘silence’ can never be standardised as an acceptance (Chen-Wishart, 2012).  In Felthouse versus Bindley, the U.K. Court of Appeal stated that there was no contractual binding between the uncle and nephew because offer made by one was not verbally accepted. Bert did not communicate about receiving the offer acceptance to William. It is advisable that Bert can place emphasis on this point in case of any legal proceedings. The postal rule can be denoted as an exception to the general rule of the contract law. It can be stated that this particular rule is applicable in a scenario where postal mode has been adopted as a means of communication. The rule denotes that acceptance of the offer takes place when a letter is posted or message about the acceptance is forwarded. In Bert’s case, there has been a breach of contract. On Wednesday, when the advert was first seen by William, the offer was made. The message of offer acceptance was forwarded by Bert on the same day. Similar scenario has been witnessed in the case law Adams versus Lindsell.  The letter of acceptance was posted on the same day by William; therefore, a contractual agreement was already formed between the two parties. The contract was breached by Bert when the vehicle was sold off to another party. It can be argued that when a valid contract is breached the claimant can be legally sued. Therefore, it is highly recommended for Bert to prove that postal rule is not applicable in his case (Fried, 2015).  It is irrelevant to put across the point of the forwarded text being erased or misplaced by a family member. Bert can prevent himself from being legally sued through placing emphasis on the counter-offer aspect. The original offer can be completely destroyed if new clauses are included within the agreement. For instance, acceptance by the offeree shall not stand valid if new conditions are incorporated within the initial agreement. It is advisable that Bert should change the date for the sale of the vintage car and increase the selling price to £10,750. Bert can forward a letter on counter-offer on the following day after the previous letter was received by William. However, in case the breach of contract is proved then it is advisable that Bert should consider William as the first buyer. 


From the above essay, it can be summarised that there are various legal provisions included within the contractual agreement. It is necessary for both the parties to agree upon the conditions set forth in the initial agreement. For instance, Bert’s case is a scenario of contractual breach because the vintage car was sold before the proclaimed time-period. Arguably, the only ways through which Bert can avoid a legal suit are through stating ‘silence’ not to be an acceptance of an offer and to introduce counter-offer. The postal rule, as an exception to the general rule, might negatively influence Bert’s case. 

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  1. Adams v Lindsell [1818] 106 ER 250 Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1893] 1 QB 256
  2. Chen-Wishart, M., 2012. Contract law. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Felthouse v Bindley [1862] EWHC CP J35 
  3. Fried, C., 2015. Contract as promise: A theory of contractual obligation. London: OUP. Harvey v Facey [1893] UKPC 1
  4. MacMillan, C. and Stone, R., 2012. Elements of the law of contract. London, England: University of London.
  5. McKendrick, E., 2014. Contract law: Text, cases, and materials. Oxford: Oxford University Press (UK). Ramsgate Victoria Hotel v Montefoire [1866] LR 1 Ex 109
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