BetterLawNotes-5 (2)


It seems that no contract will be made where the parties make identical cross-offers, each acting in ignorance of the other. So, if A writes to B offering to sell his car to B for £1,000 and at the same time B writes to A offering to buy the car for £1,000 there is no contract: there has been no acceptance. In Tinn v Hoffman & Co (1873) 29 LT 271 Honyman J thought that cross-offers would make a valid contract, but Blackburn, Brett and Grove JJ all disagreed.

‘there must be an offer which the person accepting has had an opportunity of considering, and which when he accepts he knows will form a binding contract.’

Grove J

‘When a contract is made between two parties . . . there is an exchange of promises. But I do not think exchanging offers would, upon principle, be at all the same thing . . . The promise or offer being made on each side in ignorance of the promise or offer made on the other side, neither of them can be construed as an acceptance of the other.’

Blackburn J at 279

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