Study Notes

Key Case | Stevenson v McLean (1980) | Formation of Contract - Enquiry on Offer and Revocation of an Offer

A Level, IB, BTEC National
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas

Last updated 26 May 2021

The case establshed, when an offeree makes an enquiry in response to an offer, this is not a counter-offer and thus does not destroy the original offer, which remains capable of acceptance; further offerors do have the right to revoke offers, but only where this is communicated to the offeree.


Claimant: Stevenson

Defendant: McLean

Facts: The defendant offered to sell iron to the claimant on Saturday, at a specific price and stated that the offer would remain open until Monday, the claimant asked within this time frame if it would be possible to make payment over a period of time rather than at one point. The defendant did not respond to the enquiry but decided to proceed with the sale to another interested buyer. Without a response the claimant, still within the agreed time frame (before Monday) accepted the original offer made. The claimant then sought a claim against the defendant when they refused to recognise the contract.

Outcome: Liable – a contract had been formed

Legal principle: An enquiry to an offer is not a counter-offer and thus does not destroy the original offer. The defendants would have had the legal right to revoke the offer before Monday, but this would only be effective when communicated to the offeree, as it was not, the acceptance of the offer was valid.

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