Tim will have to prove that a binding acceptance has been made, on his part, to Bob’s offer before revocation from Bob on the Monday.
Bob’s initial offer of £2000 was refused and £1500 offered by Tim, this is a counter-offer therefore not binding. However, they did reach a conclusion of £1750 to which Tim did not legally bind himself, as he needed “time to think it over”.
It seems Bob kept the offer open by saying that an answer must be given by Monday. Bob was free to revoke from the offer because Tim had given no consideration; hence no contract was possible until or before Monday keeping the offer open. This is similar to Routledge v Grant, where no consideration was given (a payment, for example) but the offeror was gratuitous in that he allowed more time for the offeree to choose to take up the offer. As is here with Tim and Bob kept the offer open until Monday.
The next problem that needs to be addressed is that of communication. Bob’s offer was open until Monday but did Tim communicate his acceptance, in any form? From Tim’s point of view he has done so because he has shown willingness or an intention to create legal relations or to enter a contract. We know Bob has received a fax at his workplace so acceptance must have taken place but has it been sufficiently been communicated is what Bob will argue. Entores v Miles Far East Corporation supports Tim’s argument, where the CA ruled that acceptance is like, by telephone. Bob reading the fax is another matter because it is his mere foolishness that it was left under a pile of paper.
Also, as we know Tim sent a letter, to Bob, for good measure. As the postal rule states the legal effect is instantaneous, as stated in Adams v Lindsell. So the acceptance has been communicated even though it reaches Bob a couple of days later. One point, however, is that Tim wrote, “will u take a post-dated cheque”; this may be considered a conditioned acceptance, which cannot result in a contract.
As far as Bob is concerned he may revoke the offer any time up to an acceptance by Tim and in his view acceptance has not yet taken place (Payne v Cave). Bob decided not to sell his car so sent a letter as revocation to Tim (which is essential for revocation to be valid, as stated in Dickinson v Dodds). However, we have no evidence to suggest Tim has received a withdrawal letter so, according to Byrne v Van Tienhoven the revocation is invalid. A postal acceptance it instantaneously effective, however, a postal revocation is only effective once received, and in any circumstance the revocation sent by Bob is too late to be deemed effective
The cause of action from Tim will be that an acceptance had taken place. He does have a case because Bob himself said he needed an answer by Monday. It wasn’t clearly stated whether there was a specific time on Monday by which the reply should be given. As we know Tim sent a facsimile to Bob’s workplace on the Monday and we know that it was received too. This clearly proves that communication of the acceptance was given. Entores v Miles Far East Corporation shows how CA declared that a fax is considered like acceptance by telephone. Whilst the despatch and the receipt of the message aren’t instantaneous, Bob has acknowledged receipt of the fax so the notification of the acceptance was received and the contract has been concluded. This approach was confirmed by HL in the case of Brinkibon (1982). So, we can conclude that the communication is instantaneous but not in effect until received by the recipient. It is now Bob’s responsibility to make sure he reads all his mail, messages or fax’s as it could be something important.
It is in Tim’s favor that he sent a letter to accompany his fax to Bob. This shows how he made reasonable steps to communicate the acceptance. Bob will argue that Tim wrote, “will u take a post-dated cheque”, therefore not binding. However, this isn’t a counter-offer, it is merely a request for further information to which Tim was inquiring.
In defense Bob will argue that no acceptance had taken place because as far as he is concerned Tim didn’t communicate acceptance, if any. Bob had given until Monday to reply, and as he did not read the facsimile no acceptance was given. Also, the letter that Tim accompanied was not received until two days after the agreed date so this acceptance wasn’t valid. According to the postal rule the legal effect is instantaneous. However, Bob will argue that if Tim really wanted the car he would have used other sufficient means to communicate the acceptance, as it is clearly obvious that the letter would be received a couple of days later, and therefore after the agreed date.
As we know Bob’s offer was open until Monday, and according to Bob no acceptance was communicated, revocation was yet possible so Bob revoked the offer on Monday.
It is advised that Tim pursue a remedy for breach as a contract has been resulted. Tim possibly is entitled to be compensated for any financial loss resulting from not having been able to buy the car. The court may rule that Tim be awarded a sum to put him in a financial position which he would have enjoyed had the contract been completed successfully. It will be in his favor that the communication of the acceptance was sufficient enough for a contract to result, and therefore the revocation can be deemed null. However, it must be remembered that this isn’t guaranteed and legal fees etc may play a factor in deciding if legal action is worth the risk. I.e. it is hardly practical if the remedy awarded is similar to that of the legal expenses.
Relationship between the Parliament, Common Law and the EU Law in the formation of English Law
The English common law system, like most similar systems, is made more predictable by the principle of `binding precedent’. New legislation is introduced into the system by the ‘tools’ of state but this is general rather than particular. The decisions of judges clarify the law in specific cases.
The common law is essentially judge made and is done in the course of deciding cases. The courts are bound by the ‘doctrine of binding precedent’ where the judges must apply any decisions to previous cases from a senior or of equal court hierarchy. This however is rigid because the rules inhibit the development of the law and the powers of the courts to distinguish binding precedents often leads to confusion. On the other hand the law can be developed without waiting for Parliament to legislate in a new area so is quite fast and there is relative practicality as case law can be made to deal with actual problems.
A major criticism of case law is it generally evolves very slowly and haphazardly. It is also considered narrow as the courts can only legislate in conjunction with the cases of events that have already taken place and cannot legislate for possible cases in the future with different facts. Only the senior courts have the creative power (but is limited) to ‘law-make’ but mostly it is parliamentary based.
Parliament is responsible for creating most of the laws that are active in the UK today. The parliament will produce statutes as opposed to common law, which is ‘judge-made’. These laws are contained in the statutes or the acts of parliament and are only bound to areas of their territory, i.e. the UK as a whole. Here, the acts of parliament will be created by the passage of a Bill through processes in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Other legislation can also be created but by other bodies who have power by the parliament. Before a Bill can become an Act of Parliament and therefore a Law, it passes through the House of Commons and through two readings with full debate from the minister and the shadow ministers respectively. Then onto the third reading by the Lords. Finally, the Crown gives the assent to the statute.
An Act of Parliament itself also allows delegated legislation where bodies outside the Parliament make the Law. Although a controversial method it does have its advantages and disadvantages. Because bodies outside the Parliament do it it saves valuable parliamentary time, where otherwise it would be a slow process. There is also reasonable flexibility as new rules can quickly be introduced or altered, as and when they feel appropriate. However, delegated legislation does indicate the loss of parliamentary control to a certain extent, for example the parliament may debate a certain point but cannot exercise their argument as they are deprived.
Being a member of the EU means that the EC has been a primary source of UK law since the early 1970s, the other being the Parliament. The European commission has the legislative powers of policy-making and other executive decisions, not the European Parliament, although they may be consulted on certain proposals. The European Court of Justice is also important in that it has a say in UK law. They interpret the EU law referred by any member state to them, and to decide the outcome of EU regulation breaches. The important factor is that once a verdict has been made on a case its implementation will be immediate, and will over-ride any domestic legislation in English Law that contravenes.
The EU has a big say on how the English Law is implemented. The main impact is probably will be on trade, employment and industry. Also, the scope of European law tends to continually increase; therefore, its impact on English Law will also increase. It is a disadvantage to English Law that treaties impose legal obligations on member states that otherwise would not be in action.