An unilateral offer is that of an advertisement,

An offer is an expression of willingness to contract on certain terms made with the intention that it shall become binding as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom it was addressed. A unilateral offer specifically, is one that is open to being accepted by the world at large. one example of unilateral offer is an offer of a reward, in this scenario the promise is made by the one who is offering the reward however unlike a bilateral offer (where the offeree and offeror both make a promise) there is no return of a counter-promise1.

Another example of a unilateral offer is that of an advertisement, the case of partridge v Crittenden2 was the leading case which established a legal precedent deciding that not all advertisements could be considered as offers, providing that the advertisement had not made a specific promise. Once an advertisement has made a specific promise it becomes a unilateral offer. For such an offer to be accepted, there needs to be an unqualified expression of assent to the terms of the offer, in a unilateral contract whosoever decides to knowledgeably follow the actions specified in the advertisement or offer of reward have then accepted the offer. Acceptance of such offers doesn’t have to be communicated to the offeror to be that effective. There is validity in acceptance by conduct. The leading example of this is from the case of Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co3 where the courts considered Mrs. Carlill having satisfied the conduct for acceptance by using the product, for the stated length of time. However, one important fact of acceptance is that the person who may do the specified act required, yet has no knowledge of the offer at the time, their actions cannot amount up to acceptance this stemming from R v Clarke4.

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Even though previously in Gibbons5 where a police officer could accept the reward for an offer even though he had no prior knowledge. However, Issacs A.C.J, later decided that for the sake of the courts this case shall not be used as precedent.

6 For revocation of any offer to take place, it is only effective once it has been communicated to the offeree and revocation is able to take place at any time before there has been acceptance. For there to be effective revocation of a unilateral offer the revocation must be given an equal amount of publicity as the offer had initially, this is stated in article 2:202(2) of the principles of European Contract Law.7 This was also shown in the case of Shuey v United States8 where the same result was found.

However, a unilateral offer cannot be revoked once the specifically requested act for acceptance has been completed, however, it was found in the case of Errington v Errington9 that if the act is not left to be “incomplete and underperformed”10 then it would continue to be a binding agreement. 1 EWAN MCKENDRICK, CONTRACT LAW (7th edn, OXFORD UNIV PRESS 2016)2 Partridge v Crittenden 1968 Queens Bench Division, 2 ALL ER 421 (Queens Bench division).3 Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company 1892 Court of Appeal, 1 QB 256 (Court of Appeal)4 5 Gibbons v Proctor 1891 Divisional Court, 64 LT 594 (Divisional Court)6 R V Clarke 1927 HCA 47; (1927) 40 CLR 227 (22 November 1927)’ (High Court of Australia, 2018)7 EWAN MCKENDRICK, CONTRACT LAW (7th edn, OXFORD UNIV PRESS 2016)8 Shuey v United States 1875 Supreme Court, 92 US 73 (Supreme Court)9 Errington v Errington and Woods 1951 Court of Appeal, 1 KB 290 (Court of Appeal)10Denning LJ, 


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