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Study Notes

Key Case | Dickinson v Dodds (1876) | Formation of Contract - Revocation of an Offer

A Level, IB, BTEC Level 3
AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Where an offeror promises to keep an offer open for a certain amount of time, the offer can be revoked if this is just a promise, not a separate contract, further, a communication by a friend or other party that an offer had been withdrawn does amount to valid communication.


Claimant: Dickinson

Defendant: Dodds

Facts: The defendant offered to sell his house to the claimant with a document stating, ‘I hereby agree to sell’ and stated that the offer would remain open until Friday at 9am. On Thursday, the defendant accepted an offer from a third party and instructed a friend to tell the claimant that the house had already been sold, the friend did so. On hearing the news, on Friday morning the claimant sought to accept the offer and the defendant refused.

Outcome: Not liable – no contract was formed

Legal principle: The offer had in fact ended so was not capable of acceptance. It did not matter that the offer was meant to stay open until Friday, this was just a promise by the defendant that was not legally enforceable. Further, a communication by a friend or other party that an offer had been withdrawn was valid, the claimant was fully aware that the offer had ended

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