plaintiff (P) sent an offer by telex to purchase copper cathodes from defendant (D), D accepted by telex
jurisdiction issue: where had acceptance occurred?
court looked at formation of the contract and established principle acceptance must be communicated.
Denning LJ: Suppose, for instance, that I shout an offer to a man across a river or a courtyard but I do not hear his reply because it is drowned by an aircraft flying overhead. There is no contract at that moment. If he wishes to make a contract, he must wait till the aircraft is gone and then shout back his acceptance so that I can hear what he says. Not until I have his answer am I bound....
offeror may stipulate mode of communicating acceptance and offeree must comply or use equally effective method
Tinn v Hoffman & Co. (1873) 29 LT 271
D offered to sell P iron and requesting reply by return of post
did acceptance have to be by post?
Honeyman J: an equally expeditious method will suffice,eg. telegram or verbal message
an equally effective method will not suffice if offeror has made clear a particular method is required
Yates Building Co. Ltd v RJ Pulleyn & Son (York) Ltd (1975) 237 EG 183
D gave P option to purchase land, stating notice of acceptance should be returned by registered or recorded delivery
P returned notice by ordinary post, D refused notice stating: .. the option agreement provides for notice to be sent by a registered or recorded delivery post. Your letter was not so sent...
was the acceptance sufficient?
no enforceable contract, was a precise requirement notice had to be sent by registered or recorded delivery post, P did not comply
a third party may purport to accept an offer
Powell v Lee (1908) 99 LT 284
P applied for a job as a headmaster
a third party at the school, informed P was appointed, without authority
aan a third party communicate acceptance?
third party must be authorised to communicate acceptance
general rule: silence and mere inactivity do not constitute acceptance
offeror cannot say that unless offeree communicates a rejection he will be deemed to have accepted, onus on offeree to accept not reject
question of whether silence could constitute acceptance featured but was not essential to decision
Gibson LJ obiter: Where the offeree himself indicates that an offer is to be taken as accepted if he does not indicate to the contrary by an ascertainable time, he is undertaking to speak if he does not want an agreement to be concluded. I see no reason in principle why that should not be an exceptional circumstance such that the offer can be accepted by silence...
offer of a unilateral contract to public at large (advert) can be worded to waive need to communicate acceptance prior to claim