England’s contract law is consisted of several laws and they can not be written or at least explained in a student’s assignment, which is consisted of 1000 words. Despite that I will try to outline the main points of the contact law and explain briefly what each means. On the second point I will explain the little difference between the English contact law with the equivalent contract law of my home country which is Cyprus. I wrote “little differences ” because, Cyprus is following the English system concerning laws.
The English contract
Offer and Acceptance
The Definition of Offer.
An offer can be made to one person or a group of persons or to the world at large. The offeror is bound to fulfil the terms of his offer once it is accepted. The offer may be made in writing, by words or conduct.
Unilateral – some offers are purely one sided, made without the offeror’s having any idea whether they will ever be taken up and accepted, and thereby be transformed into a contract. For example when an advertisement where a person is rewarding another one if he finds his pet (which was lost). In this case the person who is making such an offer is not sure whether this offer will be ever accepted.
Bilateral – The majority of offers are Bilateral. While it is not always true, most people make an offer to one named offeree or a small group of parties. Most contracts are made with both parties present on a face-to-face basis.
Invitation to treat
An invitation to treat made by one party to another is not an offer. An invitation to treat is made at a preliminary stage in the making of an agreement, where one party seeks to ascertain whether the other would be willing to enter into a contract and, if so, upon what terms. To distinguish between an offer and an invitation to treat it is necessary to look at the intention of the person making it. It is not an offer unless it was made with the intention that it should be binding as soon as the person to whom it was addressed communicates hi assent. Some examples of invitations to treat are:
Display of goods in shops
Advertisement (which can be of bilateral transaction or unilateral contract)
Subject to contract
Duration and termination of offer
An offer continues in existence, capable of acceptance until it is brought to an end. It occurs in six ways
Rejection by the offeree
Lapse of time
Occurrence of a terminating conditions
Insanity, incapacity, insolvency or impossibility
An acceptance is a final and unqualified acceptance of the terms of an offer. Unless it can be shown that there was such an acceptance, then there is no contract. Where the offeror sets out his offer and request an answer of yes or no from the offeree, it is not difficult to determine whether or not there has been an acceptance. In addition to being a firm and unqualified acceptance of all the terms of the offer, the fact of acceptance must normally be communicated to the offeror before there is concluded contract. The rules as to communication are following:
Acceptance by conduct
Request for information
Clarification of implied terms
The “battle of forms”
Acceptance of tenders
Acceptance in ignorance of an offer
Motive for the acceptance
Communication of acceptance
The general rule
An acceptance must be communicated to the offeror. Until and unless the acceptance is so communicated, no contract comes into existence.
Some exceptions to the general rule are:
1. Where the offeror expressly of impliedly waives the requirement that acceptance be communicated.
2. Where the offeror is estopped from denying that the acceptance was communicated.
3. Where the acceptance is communicated to the offeror’s agent and that agent has authority to receive that acceptance on behalf of his principal.
4. Where the postal rule applies, in which case the acceptance can be effective before it is in fact received by the offeror.
The ability to make a contract.
One main point for the contract to be valid is the consent . Briefly consent is when contract is made should not be done under the following circumstances:
In case any of the above mentioned are in active the contract is being voided.
“A valuable consideration in the sense of the law may consist either in some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given suffered or undertaken by the other”. (Defined by Lush J in Curie v Misa (1875) LR 10 Ex 153 at p162). In other words consideration is characterised as the “trading item” which is given for the purchase of the promise of the other party. The consideration must be specific and not uncertain. That means that the consideration must be legal for the contract to be valid.
1. Consideration must move from the promisee;
2. Consideration need to move to promisor;
4. Consideration must be sufficient but need not be adequate;
Estoppel is a concept known both to law and to equity. Promissory estoppel is a type of equitable estoppel, but the two terms are not interchangeable, because the latter also embraces proprietary estoppel, a more certain and long – established concept. Promissory estoppel is not concerned with facts but with promises and intentions.
The comparison of the English contract law with the equivalent in Cyprus.
As I mentioned in my introduction Cyprus is following the English system so laws are the same except of few differences. Briefly I will outline and some of the main differences; but before I will give you a brief summary on Cypriot law of contract.
The contract law started in that Cyprus in 1931. Before we used the mejelle law. The contract law (CAP.149) is almost a copy of the Indian Contract Act IX/1872. The article 2 of the contract law is saying as a general rule that Cyprus must follow the system that is held in England.
Some of the differences that we have with the English contract law are that in England decisions are taken with the common law and the equity. In Cyprus equities are existing but they are coded. Also the decisions in Cyprus are based upon decisions taken from the court. Another difference is that in Cyprus a person under the age of 18 is not allowed to make a contract. The difference is that in England the same person (under 18) can make a contract but if the contract is supporting him (the teen).
To conclude with I would like to say that constituting a contract is not a simple job. It requires knowledge and understanding. To make a contract you have to understand the objectives of it clearly before doing it. But people who understand the objectives of a contract are most likely to make a beneficial contract.
Obviously reading this assignment can not make you an expert of the English law but at least to give you some basic points.