Model answer

Here is a model answer to the contract law question. Look at how the legal issues (blue text) are woven into the facts (green text) of the case with the case citations in red.

Kate, James and Julie

Kate’s advertisement is an invitation to treat. An ad. can be an offer: Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball, but is more likely to be an invitation to treat: Partridge v Crittenden. Although not exactly business, there is no reason to doubt intention to create legal relations.

James’ first letter is an offer, a definite promise to take the piano at her price. (Cp Harvey v Facey: mere response to a request for information as to the price).

Kate’s reply is a counter offer, rejecting James’ offer (Hyde v Wrench). There is no requirement for her to hold it open for a week as there is no consideration provided by James, so it is not an option (Watson v Phipps). However, if she wishes to revoke the offer, the revocation must be communicated before James has accepted (Byrne v Tienhoven).

Because the offer was made by post, and no method of acceptance prescribed, postal acceptance is appropriate: Adams v Lindsell. Acceptance is complete upon posting. Assuming James posted the letter on the 4th of May, a contract is formed on that date.

Kate therefore breaches that contract by selling the piano to Julie on 5th May. Her agreement with Julie may not be legally binding as it is a family arrangement, though that presumption can be overcome (Wakeling v Ripley). It may also be too vague to be enforceable: for how many Saturday nights must Julie mind Kate’s children?

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