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Dodds delivered an offer to sell a house and land to Dickinson on Wednesday, stating that the offer was to stay open until 9am on Friday. Dickenson apparently decided to accept the offer on Thursday, but said nothing to Dodds because he thought he had until Friday morning. However, he was informed that Dodds had sold the property to someone else on Thursday evening and tried to reach Dodds, leaving a letter with Dodds' mother-in-law where he was staying. An agent of Dickinson found Dodds on Friday morning at around 7am, but was informed that the property had already been sold. Dickinson brought an action of specific performance. He was successful at trial, which Dodds appealed.
- Was the letter just an offer, or something more?
- Is an offeror bound to not revoke the offer and sell to someone else?
The written opinions (from Mellish and James) agree that the letter was merely an offer and nothing more. When an offer has been made, the offeror is as free to revoke it as the offeree is to accept or reject it. Dickinson argued that the only way the offeror can revoke the offer is by explicit communication to the offeree, but this is rejected by the court. It is clear in law that an offer does not amount to an agreement and can be withdrawn at any point. Even though it was said that the offer was to remain open until Friday, this was not binding on Dodds. There must be a "meeting of the minds" at the time the contract is formed, and this obviously could not occur here (as Dodds had already agreed to sell the property to a third party), so there could be no contract.
- An offeror is free to withdraw their offer at any point until the offeree has accepted it, so long as the offeree has not provided any sort of consideration.
- An offeree must have knowledge of a revocation, but explicit communication is not required.