Whether delay in post, be considered as valid acceptance by Carbord Ltd (C) to make the contract binding.
An enforceable contract has certain essential elements to be taken care of. Amongst the major elements, the prima facie requirement is that of the offer and acceptance, where the promisor or the offeror offers and the offeree accepts it. It is the general common law rule that an acceptance must be communicated to the offeror in the agreed and the prescribed methods. However, the postal acceptance rule is an exception. Under this rule, once the letter is rightly addressed and posted, then the acceptance is deemed to be completed.
According to facts, C accepted order placed by HI through post. Postal strike caused delay. HI placed order with another wholesaler and faxed C to cancel order prior to receipt of acceptance letter by C. Facts states that C addressed and posted the letter to HI in proper manner, it can be concluded that, acceptance is well communicated to the offeror in accordance with opinion in cases of (Henthorn v Fraser, 1892) and also in (Wardle v Agricultural and Rural Finance Pty Ltd; Agricultural and Rural Finance Pty Limited v Brakatselos, 2012).
It can be concluded that acceptance was made by C and delay in reaching HI cannot reduce contractual liability. So, HI cannot cancel the offer after it has already been accepted.
Under circumstances that, acceptance is emailed by C to HI through return mail, but not received by HI due to server hacking consequences. However, received next day by HI after the offer is cancelled previous day, then the consequences will be different and C’s acceptance will not be valid, following the principle adopted in case of (Bauen Constructions Pty Ltd v Sky General Services Pty Ltd, 2012). Once the sender dispatches the electronic communication it leaves the information system within sender’s control. However, electronic communication will be is considered as received by the addressee at the very time when that becomes capable of retrieving based on s 14A of the (Electronic Transactions Act (Cth), 1999).
Whether Samantha (S), can claim reward from Jenny (J), despite the fact that she was not aware of it.
The general common law rule states that there can be no valid acceptance when an offeree is unaware that there is an offer aligning to it. A binding contract can only result from the awareness of the offer which is being accepted.
In the instant facts of the case, J announced reward for finding her personal organiser. S, being unaware of the reward, returned it to the owner. Although, J wanted to pay reward to S, but changed her mind. The landmark decision of (R v Clarke, 1927), states that when there is no reliance on the offer, then the act towards it does not constitute acceptance of it. Thus, following the principle in (Personnel Concepts WA Pty Limited v Adam & Ors, t/as Marsdens Law Group, 2019), if a person is ignorant of the offer, then no acceptance towards it is valid.
S, cannot claim any reward from J, since S was ignorant about the offer.
Whether Joe (J) can be successful in returning and recovering business and purchase price, respectively.
Whenever information provided by the person on being sought or that it is only accepted by the information seeker, then under such circumstances, the speaker must realise that there is a level of trust which is bestowed upon by the information seeker. A negligent misstatement is considered as information although honestly provided, turned out to be not only inaccurate but also misleading, which subsequently caused pure economic loss.
In the instant facts of the case, café was purchased by J from S. S, informed about the takings, which was proved to be false. In (Hedley Byrne & Co v Heller & Partners, 1964), the House of Lords opined that tortious liability arises for negligent misstatements, on satisfaction of the facts that, the information provider have specialised skills in the same area. However, in case of (Mutual Life & Citizens’ Assurance Co Ltd v Evatt, 1968), the Australian courts denied the requirements for specialised skills, which was upheld by (San Sebastian Pty Ltd v Minister Administering the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW), 1988). So, following the decision in (Shaddock & Associates Pty Ltd v Parramatta City Council, 1981), it is understandable that S provided negligent misstatements. But as a seller, he possessed the duty of care and also the knowledge that J being the recipient of such information have the intention to act in support of it. Thus, J’s reliance on S’s statement was reasonably foreseeable.
J will be successful in returning and recovering the business and purchase price, respectively, on proving the duty owed by S to him.
Whether duress can be a good ground of defence for the actions of the managing director (MD) by the senior employee.
Duress under the law of contract is defined as violence which can be both actual or threatened thereby depriving the liberty of the person or any immediate relative to enter in to contract. A contract induced by duress lacks free consent and is thus voidable by the coerced party.
In the instant facts of the case, misappropriation was detected. MD threatened senior employee for repaying the amount stolen. The debt was acknowledged but no repayment was made. In (Barton v Armstrong, 1976), the court opined that, if threats are the contributing factor towards signing contract, then it is voidable. Similarly, threats about terminating contract were also held as duress in case of (North Ocean Shipping Co Ltd v Hyundai Construction Co Ltd, 1979).
Threats about reporting matter to police are deprivation of liberty and thus duress, hence, senior employee can defend herself by claiming duress. But, for recovery of the misappropriated amount, requires separate legal action.
Barton v Armstrong (1976).
Bauen Constructions Pty Ltd v Sky General Services Pty Ltd (2012).
Electronic Transactions Act (Cth), 1999. Electronic Transactions Act. [Online]
Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2011C00445
Hedley Byrne & Co v Heller & Partners (1964).
Henthorn v Fraser (1892).
Mutual Life & Citizens’ Assurance Co Ltd v Evatt (1968).
North Ocean Shipping Co Ltd v Hyundai Construction Co Ltd (1979).
Personnel Concepts WA Pty Limited v Adam & Ors, t/as Marsdens Law Group (2019).
R v Clarke (1927).
San Sebastian Pty Ltd v Minister Administering the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (1988).
Shaddock & Associates Pty Ltd v Parramatta City Council (1981).
Wardle v Agricultural and Rural Finance Pty Ltd; Agricultural and Rural Finance Pty Limited v Brakatselos (2012).
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