The contractual offer is the first half of what is known as mutual assent, which is required for all valid contracts. Mutual assent indicates the two parties have agreed to the same terms at the same time, according to Jeffrey A. Helewitz in his book titled Basic Contract Law for Paralegals, published in 2004. The other half of mutual assent is acceptance of the offer.
Requirements for an Offer in a Legal Contract
There are several specific requirements for a proposal to qualify as a contractual offer. First, there must be at least two parties, the offeror, and the offeree. In a contractual offer, the offeror makes a proposal to the offeree. Three conditions are necessary for a contractual offer. First, the offeror must have intended to enter a legal contract. Second, the offer must be communicated to the offeree. Lastly, the terms of the offer must be absolute and definite.
In a lawsuit, in order for an offer to be considered valid, there must be the contractual intent. All circumstances surrounding the proposal must be taken into consideration when determining if contractual intent did exist. It must appear to an objective, reasonable person that the offeror had intended to make an offer in order to be enforceable in a lawsuit. The seriousness of words and expressions used to articulate the proposal will be considered in a lawsuit concerning contractual intent.
Communication to Offeree
An offer must be communicated to the offeree using effective means. Communication can be oral, written, or mechanical, according to Helewitz. It is the offeror’s discretion as to the exact method he or she uses to communicate an offer. However, legal contracts involving the sale of real estate or agreements lasting for a year or more must be in writing, according to All Business in an article titled “What Makes A Valid Contract?” The offer may be made to an individual or a group of people. Ultimately, the offeree must be aware of the offer in order to make a legal acceptance. Unless the offer is made in the form of an option, the offeror may revoke the offer at anytime before the offeree communicates acceptance, according to RealTown.com in an article titled “Offer and Acceptance.”
Certainty and Definiteness of Terms
There are several elements necessary for the terms of a proposal to be considered definite and certain in a lawsuit. First, the consideration of the offer must be stated in the offer, wrote Helewitz. Consideration is what one party receives in return for what the other party will do or receive. In most legal contracts, money is used as consideration. However, consideration can be anything of value, including services or property. Second, the subject matter of the consideration must also be specifically described, such as how much money or exactly what type of services or product. The parties to the offer must also be specifically described. Lastly, time of performance must be definite and clear.
When involved in a lawsuit it is important to understand the legal requirements of a contract, beginning with the legality of the contractual offer. Although there are only a few elements necessary for a contractual offer, these elements can be open to interpretation. The validity of a contractual offer may have to be proven using relevant evidence in some lawsuits. It is always a good idea to consult an attorney regarding disputes concerning a legal contract.