Stefan obtained his LLB degree from Stellenbosch University and is an admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa. He joined STBB as part of the Claremont litigation department and practices in commercial and general litigation, with a focus on contractual, property, rental and eviction disputes.

Thought of the Week | What amounts to acceptance?

Consensus must be reached in respect of all material terms for a valid agreement to come into effect.

If one party offers and the other accepts, but at the time of signing the latter makes alterations to the contract, can it be said that the first signatory accepted the changes to the contract, or does that person have to acknowledge the changes after they have been made?

This issue was addressed in the judgement of Cooper v Clark, where the Court referred to two SCA judgments. The one concluded that conditional acceptance of an offer does not constitute a contract, but rather a counter offer and would only become a binding contract on acceptance of the alterations. The other held that where such change amounts to a material alteration of the contractual terms, it constitutes a counter offer and that until accepted, is unenforceable.

Therefore, any material alteration made by one party after the other has signed the agreement, must be accepted by the latter to be enforceable.

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