An offer is an expression of willingness to enter into a contract on very explicit provisions as soon as the conditions are accepted. One person referred to as the offeror makes the offer, and another referred to as the offeree must accept. Its fundamentals include:
- The offer must give rise to a legal relation. Any offer that cannot create a lawful relation is invalid and hence not enforceable under law.
- The provisions of an offer must be stated clearly to the offeree. John promises to give Peter some money if he clears his garden. Peter proceeds to clear John’s garden and later claims the money. The fact it is not clear what amount of money was to be paid to Peter invalidates the offer, and Peter may not receive any money from John. There is an exception, though, under the Universal Commercial Code. Under UCC, the parties are allowed to create a contract with open terms.
- An offer may be intended for a particular person or directed to the entire public. These can be referred to as specific or general offers, respectively. For a specific offer, acceptance can only be by the person for whom it was meant. When made to the public, it is a general one and can be accepted by any person.
- An offer must never be a simple pronouncement of intent. This is because a person can make a statement without an aim to create a legal obligation.
- The offer must not contain any term or condition, which if not fulfilled may mean that the offer has been accepted. The offeror, for example, cannot say that if the offeree does not accept the offer within a set period, the offer would be deemed to have been accepted.
- The offeror is permitted to spell out the terms and conditions for the offer. As a result, anyone who accepts the offer is bound by the said terms and conditions of the offer.
- Before an offer is accepted, it is important to ensure that the offeree must is fully aware of its existence. This applies whether an offer is specific or general. The offeror can choose any appropriate means to communicate the offer.