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Unilateral agreements

Unilateral agreements

Postby Spankymonkey » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:02 pm

Can you ever 'contract' with someone via a unilateral agreement? What I'm trying to understand is under what conditions a unilateral agreement is valid. For instance:

"By not responding to this letter you agree with its terms and conditions"
"By entering this property you agree to be searched before leaving again."
"By opening this gate you agree to pay me £500" (quite popular with FOTL loons)"

Are any of these valid?
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Re: Unilateral agreements

Postby dls » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:18 pm

The requirements for consideration can be small, but circumstances can differ. Each is likely to be a push.
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Re: Unilateral agreements

Postby Labrador » Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:20 pm

No such thing as a unilateral agreement.
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Re: Unilateral agreements

Postby Spankymonkey » Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:02 pm

dls wrote:Each is likely to be a push.


What do you mean?
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Re: Unilateral agreements

Postby dls » Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:39 am

Each is unlikely to succeed.

This is very basic contract law, and has been played around with from the year dot.
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Re: Unilateral agreements

Postby theycantdothat » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:58 am

There can be what is referred to as a unilateral contract. A famous case is Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. What is unilateral is the offer in the sense that it is open to be accepted by anyone, that is the contract is not concluded in the normal way where the offereror knows who the offeree is, but by the offeree complying with some condition which does not need to be communicated to the offeror. The important thing is that the offeree has to do something.

This means that "By not responding to this letter you agree with its terms and conditions" cannot be the basis for forming a contract. The offeree needs to do something.

"By entering this property you agree to be searched before leaving again" cannot be the basis of a contract because no consideration is involved at all.

"By opening this gate you agree to pay me £500" is also insufficient as the owner of the gate is not providing any consideration for the £500.

A unilateral contract can only exist where an offeror makes an offer to do something in return for the performance of something set out in the offer and the offeree does it relying on the offer. Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company shows the principle clearly:

·Carbolic Smoke Ball Company said: Buy our carbolic smoke ball, use it in accordance with the instructions and if you get influenza we will pay you £100.

·Mrs Carlill bought the ball, used it in accordance with the instructions and caught influenza.

·Mrs Carlill was entitled to the £100.
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