Counter offer in contract law: Hyde v Wrench (1840)
Areas of applicable law: Contract law – Offer – Counter offer:
Main arguments in this case: The case illustrates how a counter offer, or haggling in plain English, can destroy an offer completely. In contract law when an offeror (one who makes an offer) proposes an offer, the offeree (to whom the offer is made) can either accepts the offer or try to negotiate on the price. If the offeree accepts the initial offer, then there is an agreement that can be legally binding. But if the offeree tries to negotiate on the price then it completely wipes the slate clean making the initial offer destroyed and the offeree cannot go back to it. That is what happened in the case of Hyde v Wrench.
The fact of the case:Wrench made an offer to Hyde to sell a farm for £1000. Believing that the price was too high, Hyde offered to pay £950 as a counter offer. The counter offer was rejected and Wrench sold the land to someone else. Failing to buy the farm for £950 Hyde tried to buy the farm for the previous price of £1000. When it failed he sued Wrench for breach of contract.
The claim failed as the court held that by counter offering the asking price of £1000, Hyde had actually destroyed the original offer and since there was no offer available, Hyde could not come back to it.