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Generally, silence of the offeree does not constitute an acceptance of the offer. The reason for this is because acceptance requires that the offeree must express, either by words or by conduct

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Introduction

Generally, silence of the offeree does not constitute an acceptance of the offer. The reason for this is because acceptance requires that the offeree must express, either by words or by conduct, the assent to the terms of the offer in the way indicated by the offeror. One of the requirements of a valid acceptance is that it has to be communicated to the offeror. Failure to communicate, being silence or inactive, will not constitute an acceptance of the offer and therefore no valid contract is made. . There is, however, not an absolute rule that silence can never amount to an acceptance. This means that there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the offeror has waived communication by indicating that acceptance may be formed by silence or inaction, then under this situation, the acceptance must be characterized by the presence of the intention of the offeree to bind himself to a contractual obligation. ...read more.

Middle

The problem arose because the auctioneer mistakenly sold the horse to someone else. The uncle then sued the auctioneer in the tort of conversion on the basis that the horse belonged to him. However, this was only so if there was a valid contract between uncle and nephew. The court held that there could not be a contract in the circumstances where the uncle imposed a contract by saying "if I hear no more about him I shall consider the horse mine".3 It was not possible for the uncle to unilaterally impose contractual liability on the nephew because of his failure to reply to the offer. As a result, there was no enforceable contract between them and thus the uncle had no claim against the auctioneer. The Judge held that it was not possible for the offeror to waive the need of communication and that silence can never constitute an acceptance. ...read more.

Conclusion

This case shows that judges are starting to relax the view that offeror can waive communication and the rule 'silence can never amount to an acceptance' is not as strictly applied as in Felthouse v Bindley. As a general rule, silence does not constitute an acceptance. Usually, the offeror cannot waive the need of communication by indicating silence will be sufficient as an acceptance. Under some circumstances, however, the court might say that an uncommunicated acceptance is sufficient for a contract providing that the offeree has intention to accept the offer. It all depends on the context in which the party makes the contract. Endnotes 1 Felthouse v Bindley [1862], 11 C.B.N.S. 869 2 Felthouse v Bindley [1862], 11 C.B.N.S. 869 3 Felthouse v Bindley [1862], 11 C.B.N.S. 869 4 Taylor v. Allon [1966] 1 Q.B. 304. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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