A contract can be described as a legally binding oral or written agreement which exchanges any combination of money, goods, property and services. It is a common misconception that a contract may only be in written form, but the fact is that oral or conduct agreements can be as just and credible as a written agreement in contract formation. A contract is unique and unless certain exceptions apply, parties are free to agree to whatever terms they choose, this is known as the ‘Freedom of Contract’. We may unknowingly enter hundreds of contracts a year, for example, in buying groceries from a supermarket, we enter into a contract for the exchange of money in return for goods. This is an example of a very simple contract, but contracts can be extremely complex, owing to the parties’ freedom to agree to whatever terms they see fit. Contractual relations are between individuals, and therefore contract law is a form of civil law. The dominant source of contract law is common law, whereby the previous decisions of the courts form part of the current law.For a contract to be formed it is essential is that there must necessarily be an offer made for the purpose of formation of a contract. Offer is the first core requirement of the formation of a contract. The term offer is used in English Law whereas in Indian Law according to the Indian Contract Act ,1872 offer is known as Proposal. The provisions given in The Indian Contract Act,1872 are the basis to decide any dispute related to contract law In India. According to The Indian Contract Act,1872 Proposal is defined in Section 2(a) as “when one person will signify to another person his willingness to do or not to do something i.e. abstain with a view to obtain the assent of such person to such an act or abstainance, he is said to have made a proposal
FEATURES OF OFFER/PROPOSAL ARE:
• The person making the offer/proposal is known as the “promisor” or the “offeror”. And the person who may accept such an offer will be the “promisee” or the “acceptor”. • The offeror will have to express his willingness to do or abstain from doing an act. Only willingness is not enough. Or simply a desire to do/not do something will not constitute an offer. • An offer can be positive or negative. It can be a promise to do some act, and can also be a promise to abstain (not do) some act/service. Both are valid offers. An offer is also said to be an expression of willingness to contract on specific terms and it is with the intention that it would be binding once it is accepted. There can be many types of offers/ proposals based on nature, intention, duration etc out of which the two categories that we would be discussing in detail are the Specific Offer/Proposal and General Offer/Proposal. The other types of offers/proposals are: EXPRESS OFFER/PROPOSAL IMPLIED OFFER/PROPOSAL COUNTER OFFER/PROPOSAL CROSS OFFER/PROPOSAL STANDING OR CONTINUOUS OFFER/PROPOSAL
SPECIFIC OFFER / PROPOSAL
Specific Offer/Proposal is an offer which is made to a specific person or an ascertained person. In this case the person to whom the offer is made is only liable to accept the offer. Nobody other than that specific person to whom the offer is made can accept the offer. For example Rashmi offers/propose to buy a car from Sachin for Rs 15 lakh. So here in this case a specific offer has been made to a specific person and only that specific person i.e. Sachin in this case can accept the offer. No one other than Sachin can accept this offer. Another illustration can be that I propose to sell my watch to Risabh for Rs. 10000 so no one other than Risabh is entitled to accept the offer as it is a Specific Offer/proposal which is made to a specific person. Another example is A offers to sell his horse to B for Rs 5000.Only B can accept the offer as it has specifically been made to him.
GENERAL OFFER / PROPOSAL
A general offer is one that is made to the public at large. It is not made any specified parties. So any member of the public can accept the offer and be entitled to the rewards/consideration.General offer can be accepted by anyone.If the offeree fulfils the terms and conditions which are given in the offer then the offer is said to be accepted. A very important and special feature of A General Offer is that communication of acceptance need not be communicated to the offeror in a general offer unlike other offers where communication of acceptance has to be communicated to the offeror.
For example if I put out a reward for solving a puzzle. So any member of the public can accept the offer and be entitled to the reward if he/she finishes the act i.e. (solves the puzzle).
Another illustration is “A” issued handbills offering reward worth Rs. 5,000 to anyone who found and returned back to him his male golden retriever aged 5 years with a red chain in his neck. This is a general offer/proposal. The leading case of “General Offer” is CARLLIL VS CARBOLIC SMOKE BALL COMPANY (1893): This case is known for both its academic importance as well as its contribution to the expansion of the laws regarding unilateral contracts.