Question: “Acceptance is to an offer what a lighted matchstick is to a train of gun powder”. Explain with reference to its conditions and incidents as dealt with in English and Indian laws. [HJS 1998, BJS 2018, Punjab JS 1995 (1)] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [“Acceptance is to an offer what… Read More »

Question: “Acceptance is to an offer what a lighted matchstick is to a train of gun powder”. Explain with reference to its conditions and incidents as dealt with in English and Indian laws. [HJS 1998, BJS 2018, Punjab JS 1995 (1)] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [“Acceptance is to an offer what a lighted match is to a train of gun powder”. Explain with reference to its conditions and incidents as dealt with in English and Indian laws.] Answer The effect...

Question: “Acceptance is to an offer what a lighted matchstick is to a train of gun powder”. Explain with reference to its conditions and incidents as dealt with in English and Indian laws. [HJS 1998, BJS 2018, Punjab JS 1995 (1)]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [“Acceptance is to an offer what a lighted match is to a train of gun powder”. Explain with reference to its conditions and incidents as dealt with in English and Indian laws.]

Answer

The effect of acceptance of an offer has been explained by Anson in “Anson’s Law of contract” in the following words:

“Acceptance is to an offer what a lighted matchstick is to a train of gunpowder. It produces something which cannot be recalled or undone. But the powder may have laid until it has become damp, or the man who laid the train may remove it before the match is applied. So an offer may lapse for want of acceptance or be revoked before acceptance. Also, the offeree may decide to reject the offer. Until an offer is accepted, it creates no legal rights, and it may be terminated at any time.”

The Contract Act does not expressly deal with the place where a contract is made. Sections 3 & 4 of the Contract Act deal with the communication, acceptance and revocation of proposals.

By section 3 the communication of a proposal, acceptance of a proposal, and revocation of a proposal and acceptance, respectively, are deemed to be made by any “act or omission” of the party proposing, accepting or revoking, by which he intends to communicate such proposal, acceptance or revocation, or which has the effect of communicating it.

Section 4 provides that “Communication of a proposal is complete when it comes to the knowledge of the person to whom it is made. Communication of acceptance is complete: “as against the proposer when it is put in course of transmission to him so as to be out of the power of acceptor as against the acceptor when it comes to the knowledge of the proposer.” In terms section 4 doesn’t deal with the place where a contract takes place, but with the completion of communication of a proposal, acceptance and revocation.

In determining the place where a contract takes place, the interpretation clauses in section 2 which largely incorporate the substantive law of contract must be taken into account.

A person signifying to another his willingness to or to abstain from doing anything, with a view to obtaining the assent of that other to such act or abstinence is said to make proposal cl. (a).

When the person to whom the proposal is made signifies his assent thereto, the proposal is said to be accepted. A proposal when accepted becomes promise cl. (b), and every promise and every set of promises, forming the consideration for each other is agreement cl. (e). An agreement enforceable at law is contract cl. (k).

By the second clause of section 4, the communication of an acceptance is complete as against the proposer, when it is put in a course of transmission to him, so a, to be out of the power of the acceptor. This implies that where communication of an acceptance is made and it is put in a course of transmission to the proposer, the acceptance is complete as against the proposer and as against the acceptor, it becomes complete when it comes to the knowledge of the proposer.

In the matter of communication of revocation it is provided that as against the person who makes the revocation it becomes complete when it is put into a course of transmission to the person to whom it is made, so as to be out of the power of the person who makes it, and as against the person to whom it is made when it comes to his knowledge.

Illustration: A proposes, by a letter sent by post, to sell his house to B. B accepts the proposal by a letter sent by post. B accepts the proposal by a letter sent by post.” A may revoke his proposal at any time before or at the moment when B posts his letter of acceptance, but not afterwards. B may revoke his acceptance at any time before or at the moment when the letter communicating it reaches A, but not afterwards.

However, as observed by the court in Bhagwandas Goverdhandas Kedia v. M/S. Girdharilal Parshottamdas, [1966 AIR 543] section 4 does not imply that the contract is made qua the proposer at one place and qua the acceptor at another place. The contract becomes complete as soon as the acceptance is made by the acceptor and unless otherwise agreed expressly or by necessary implication by the adoption of a special method of intimation, when the acceptance of the offer is intimated to the offeror.

The rule about acceptance by post or telegram is that a contract is complete when a letter of acceptance, properly addressed and stamped is posted, even if the letter does not reach the destination or having reached it is not read by the proposer.

It is thus seen that the communication of a proposal is complete when it comes to the knowledge of the person to whom it is made but a different rule is made about acceptance. Communication of an acceptance is complete in two ways-

  • against the proposer when it is put in the course of transmission to him so as to be out of the Power of the acceptor; and
  • as against the acceptor when it comes to the knowledge of the proposer.

Section 5 states communication of its acceptance is complete as against the proposer, but not afterwards and an acceptance may be revoked at any time before the communication of the acceptance is complete as against the acceptor, but not afterwards. This is bound to arise difficulties if we were to accept that the contract is only complete at the proposer’s end.

Thus Anson gives the above scenario in his statement “Acceptance is to an offer what a lighted matchstick is to a train of gun powder”.


Law of Contract Mains Questions Series: Important Questions for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-12-26T11:21:49+05:30
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