David Martin Ogilvie Thompson LLB (NMMU), LLM (NMMU) A practicing Attorney with rights of appearance in the High Court of South Africa, based in the Cape Town litigation department and assisting with litigation at the Somerset West branch. Previously a Director of a firm in Port Elizabeth, David joined STBB in February 2017 as a Senior Associate in the litigation department, specializing in all aspects of General Litigation, including Corporate & Commercial Litigation, Property Litigation, Eviction Law, Insolvency Law, Admin Law and Contract Law. David also conducts research and Legal Updates for estate agents.

Thought of the Week | Can I unilaterally revoke an offer before acceptance?

University of the North v Franks & Others – (2002) 23 ILJ 1252 (LAC) 

Two of the fundamental elements of the South African Law of Contract is offer and acceptance. In other words, for a legally binding contract to come into existence, there must be a valid offer and there must be a valid acceptance of such an offer.

It often happens that when a party makes an offer (the offeror) to another party (the offeree), the offeror will insert a time by when the offer is to be accepted. If the offer is not accepted within the specified period of time, the offer will lapse and be of no further legal force and effect. On the other hand, it might also happen that such an offer does not contain a time period by when the offer is to be accepted. For present purposes, the former type of offer will be referred to as a ‘time sensitive offer’ and the latter will be referred to as an ‘open offer’.

The question that needs to be answered is: Can an offeror lawfully revoke a time sensitive offer and / or an open offer before the offeree has accepted same? We explore this question here.

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