Previous: Offers

Acceptance is the absolute and unconditional assent to the offeror’s offer or proposal and is the last step in forming a contract. It must be demonstrated, though it need not be verbal; it must not be done in private, the other person must know of it and if the offeree does not intend to accept the offer, acceptance may not be claimed.

An acceptance with new terms is merely a counter offer, and does not constitute acceptance, as was declared in Jones v Daniel [1894]. In addition to this, if an offer is rejected, it cannot then be later accepted: an offer is killed by rejection. This was declared in Hyde v Wrench [1840]. Furthermore, as was found in Tin v Hoffman & Co [1873], two identical crossing offers do not amount to a binding contract, there must be an assent by one to the other’s offer.

Unilateral acceptance

When is a unilateral offer accepted? Can it be accepted without knowledge of the offer? If you return my dog through your own good will when I have promised to the world £100 to whoever returns it, do I owe you the £100 if you later find out that a reward was being offered? The case of Williams v Cawardine [1833] says that the motive is irrelevant to receiving a unilateral reward, however the more recent case of R v Clarke [1927] says that you must now be aware of the unilateral offer to be able to accept it...

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