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Byrne v Van Tienhoven

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Byrne v Van Tienhoven
UK

Citation

Byrne v Van Tienhoven (1880), 5 CPD 344

Plaintiff

Byrne & Company

Defendant

Van Tienhoven & Company

Year

1880

Court

Court of Common Pleas

Judge

Lindley J

Country

United Kingdom

Area of law

Revocation, Termination of offer

Issue

What is the relation between the postal acceptance rule and revocation?

FactsEdit

On October 1st Van Tienhoven mailed a proposal to sell 1,000 boxes of tin plates to Byrne at a fixed price. On October 8th, Van Tienhoven mailed a revocation of offer, however that revocation was not received until the 20th. In the interim, on October 11th, Byrne received the original offer and accepted by telegram and turned around and resold the merchandise to a third party on the 15th. Byrne brought an action for non-performance.

IssueEdit

  1. What is the relation between the postal acceptance rule and revocation?

DecisionEdit

Judgment for the plaintiffs.

ReasonsEdit

Lindley held that the revocation of the offer was not effective until it had been communicated to Byrne. While the postal rule remains good law for acceptance, he finds no support for the premise that revocation of an offer is also completed once it has been put in the mail. As a result, the revocation was not communicated to Byrne until the 20th, at which point the contract was already formed and thus the revocation is of no effect. To rule otherwise would be impractical for commercial realities.

RatioEdit

  • Revocation must be communicated to the offeree so that the offeree has knowledge of the revocation.
  • Mere posting of a revocation is not sufficient communication.

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