The term ‘offer’ and ‘proposal’ under contract law is often used interchangeably. Section 2(a) of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 defines the term “Proposal” as –

When one person signifies to another his willingness to do or to abstain from doing anything, with a view to obtaining the assent of that other to such act or abstinence, he is said to make a proposal“.

Key Points:

  • An ‘offer’ once accepted becomes ‘promise’;
  • An ‘offer’ must be definite and certain;
  • An ‘offer’ must be communicated;
  • An ‘offer’ must be made with the intention to create legal obligations;
  • An ‘offer’ is complete as against the acceptor when the offeror puts it in a mode of transmission outside the control of the offeror;
  • An ‘offer’ lapses, if a counter offer is made as counter offer is itself considered to be a fresh offer


Offer cane be of two types:

  1. General Offer
  2. Specific Offer


General Offers:

  • Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company   [Summary]
  • Lalman Shukla v. Gauri Dutt   (1913) 11 ALJ 489   [Summary

Intention to Create Legal Relationship:

  • Balfour v. Balfour   (1918-19) All ER  860 (CA)   [Summary]
  • Merritt v Merritt   [1970] EWCA Civ 6   [Summary]

Communication of Offer:

Cross Offer:

  • Tinn v. Hoffman   1873 29 LT 271   [Summary]

Standing Offer:

  • Perclval Ltd. v. London County Council Asylums and Mental Deficiency Committee   (1918) 87 L.JKB 677   [Summary]
  • Bengal Coal Co. v. Homee Wadia & Co.    (1899) ILR 24 Bom 97   [Summary]  
  • Union Of India v. Maddala Thathiah   1964 SCR (3) 774   [Full Text]
  • R v. Demers   [2004] 2 S.C.R. 489   [Full Text]  
  • Great Northern Railway Co. v. Witham   [1873] LR 9 CP 16   [Summary]

Invitation to Offer:

  • Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists Ltd.   [1953] 1 QB 401   [Summary]
  • Harvey v. Facey    [1893] UKPC 1   [Summary]   
  • Harris v. Nickerson   (1873) LR 8 QB 286   [Summary]

Counter Offer:

  • Hyde v. Wrench   [1840] EWHC Ch J90   [Summary]
  • Jones v. Daniel   [1894] 2 Ch. 332   [Summary, p. 23, para 2.39]
  • Routledge v. Grant   (1828) 6 LJCP 166   [Summary]

Postal Rule:

  • Adams v. Lindsell   [1818] EWHC KB J59   [Summary]   [Full Text]
  • The Household Fire and Carriage Accident Insurance Company (Limited) v. Grant   (1878–79) LR 4 Ex D 216   [Summary, p.19]
  • Henthorn v. Fraser   [1892] 2 Ch 27   [Summary, p.20]   [Full Text]
  • Countess of Dunmore v. Alexander   (1830) 9 Sh 19   [Summary]

Definite Terms:

  • G. Scammell and Nephew Ltd. v HC & JG Ouston   [1941] 1 AC 251   [Summary]  
  • Montreal Gas Co. v. Vasey   (1900), A. C. 595   [Summary]

3 thoughts on “Offer

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