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Once acceptance of the offer is communicated (or merely takes place where the requirement for communication is waived by the offeror) the contract comes into being. Both parties (in the case of a bilateral contract) are then bound. Neither can change their mind without the agreement of the other.

Hasham v Zenab [1960] AC 316

Hasham signed a contract for the sale by her to C of a two-acre plot of land. Minutes later she tore the document up, claiming that she had intended only to sell part of the plot, amounting to half an acre. The Court held that Hasham was bound by the agreement.

For a significant exception to this principle, have a look at Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. These regulations, which apply to certain types of contracts between consumers and traders give consumers the right in some circumstances to cancel a contract within a fixed period.

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