Outline the Basic Rule of the Law of Contract Regarding the Effective Revocation of an Offer.

Outline the basic rule of the law of contract regarding the effective revocation of an offer.

In the general Law of Contract, there have been five fundamental performances by which an offer can be terminated.

Firstly, an offer can be withdrawn. Thus, an offer can be withdrawn by the offeror at anytime before acceptance has taken place. The general rule for revocation is, to withdraw an offer; the offeror must bring notice of the withdrawal to the attention of the offeree. But, there is however no actual requirement that the offeror himself must be the one to put forward his withdrawal to the attention of the offeree. In Dickinson v. Dodds1 the defendant offered to sell a house to the plaintiff for £800, the offer being left open until Friday. On Thursday the defendant sold the house to a third party. The plaintiff was informed of the situation by someone else. Nevertheless the plaintiff on Friday, decided to send the defendant a letter of acceptance. The plaintiff sued the defendant for breach of contract. The court held no contract had been made between the two parties, because the offer had been withdrawn before it was accepted. Hence the lapse of time for the acceptance to take place (offer was open until Friday) and the revocation which took place on the Thursday before acceptance had taken place and the plaintiff was also informed by the third party of the withdrawal.


[1876] 2 Ch D 463, CA

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This case is coherent with the general rule. In Routledge v. Grant2 the plaintiff could not enforce the contract since repudiation took place before acceptance. The general rule of revocation also has negative effects in relation to the offer sent through the post. In Byrne v. Van Tienhoven3. It was held that for an effective revocation to take place withdrawal of the offer must be drawn to the attention to the other party and for this situation, the postal rule does not apply. While it is clear that the revocation must be acknowledged to the...