Contract Law Case Study An offer or an Invitation to Treat

ContractLaw Case Study: An offer or an Invitation to Treat

Introductionand Background of the Case/ Problems

TheExquisite Natural Beauty Hair Salon has just opened a branch in NewYork and invited customers for services ranging from massage,pedicure, manicure to hair beauty services. It sends out circularsthat advertised its manicures and massages for about $20 toindividuals within the city. One of the individuals who receivedthese circulars was Joyce who realized that the deal wasexceptionally good. However, she was not surprised since she knewthat the salon had only opened a few days earlier and was, in fact,was operating and offering a number of good opening special offers.She, nevertheless, called the hair salon and made a booking for theservices. Upon getting to the salon, she was informed that a mistakehad been made in composing or writing the circular and that the priceshould have been indicated as $100. It is noted that this was stillquite a good price, with the manager of the salon noting that packagecomposed of manicure and massage services would have cost at least$170 in normal cases. As much as this was still quite a good deal,Joyce was furious since she had travelled from a far off place,taking more than 30 minutes to get to the hair salon by car. Shestated that if only she had known that the services would have cost$100 she would not have made the effort to book for the services,leave alone travelling the long distance to the salon. In essence,she is wondering whether she should hold the Exquisite Natural BeautyHair Salon to account for the mistake and the cost that Joyce hasincurred in coming to the hair and beauty salon. Would the advice beany different if Joyce was offered the manicure and massage beforebeing informed that the cost is actually $100? If this was thescenario, would Joyce be forced or obligated to pay the full pricefor the services offered?

Rightsand Obligation of the Buyers and Sellers/ Research

Indetermining whether or not Joyce is an aggrieved party that deservesto be offered the services at the price that was indicated in thecircular, it is imperative that one determines whether a salesagreement or a contract made when the circular was made. It should benoted that a contract would only be enforceable in instances where itis composed of the purchases order and the acceptance of the same, aswell as the buyer’s recommendation and no-fraud clauses. On thesame note, individuals that are party to a contract with regard tothe sale of services and goods are under an obligation to followevery obligation that is bestowed on them in line with the contract.Indeed, the Uniform Commercial Code underlines the fact that theparties to a contract have rights and obligations under the terms ofthe contract to which they have entered. At its most basic, acontract between sellers and buyers will incorporate the requirementthat the seller will deliver goods and services that are in line withthose that the buyer offered to purchase. Once the services and goodsare offered, the buyer is required to not only accept the goods andservices but also pay for them. This means that the seller has theright to get the purchase price for the services that are offered. Ininstances where one of the parties breaches the agreement or theterms of the contract, the injured party can seek legal redress andobtain a number of remedies or damages in line with the provisions ofthe contract. In this case, the main problem would be determiningwhether there was any contract between the individuals or parties,and whether the terms and conditions of the same had been breached.


Inthe case provided, the issue does not revolve around the provision ofappropriate services as claimed in the circular rather it is whetherthe cost should be as indicated in the circular. This means that onewould have to examine whether the circular was a contract in itself.However, it should be noted that in a court of law, contracts wouldbe legally binding in instances where there is anoffer, acceptance,as well as the deliberateintentionto establish legal relations, as well as consideration. Offers areperceived as coming up where a particular party prepares to get intoa contract on certain terms and an acceptance being a proper andclear agreement to the said terms. On the same note, it would beimperative that one examines the source of the offer. Did the salonmake the offer or is it the potential client who offered to purchasethe services described. In instances where an offer is perceived tohave been accepted, then it is the case that a contract has beencreated. However, it is imperative that one distinguishes an offerfrom an “invitation to treat”, though determining whether therewas any intention on the part of the parties involved to be bound bythe provisions of the offer. “Invitationto treat”is distinguished from an offer in the context of contract law in thatthe former is simply inviting another party to make an offer, whilethe latter is open for acceptance. Invitationto treatis not intended to be immediately open to acceptance by anindividual.

Implicationsto Joyce’s Remedies Inquiry/ Solution

Joyce’scase brings to the fore issues that may be determined via judicialsystems. The elements that would be considered in determining orevaluating whether there was a breach of contract and, if so, whetherthere will be any remedies for the same would be based on theprovisions of the contract law and the elements of a contract. Thisnecessitates an examination of the language that is used in thesupposed contract or offer.

Whenan individual offers some information regarding products and servicesin the form of a circular or catalogue and invites others to makeoffers for the purchase of the services and products, it is seen assimply an invitation to treat. This means that the buyer isessentially offering to purchase the said goods and services, inwhich case an enforceable agreement would be reached only when theseller accepts the offer. This was determined in Harrisv Nickerson(1873) L.R 8 Q.B. 286, whether the defendant had made a salesadvertisement through auction. In this case, the plaintiff cameacross this advert and got to the auction site, only to realize thatthe auction had been cancelled, in which case he brought an actionagainst the auctions. The court determined that the advert was simplyaninvitation to treat,in which case the plaintiff could not make any claim for any lossesincurred in form of travel expenses or time lost. This is similar tothe case where sellers place a particular price for products on theshelves only for the price to be different once the buyers get to thecounter. Indeed, the sellers are deemed to be simply makingan invitation to offer,in which case the buyer would be the one making the offer throughoffering to purchase the product or service with his or her money.This means that shopkeepers who mistakenly price a product toocheaply would not be under any obligation to sell the same at thatparticular price. It is worth noting that an invitationto treat is simply a toolused to get negotiations to start, as well as demonstrate the termswhich a particular party would be willing to accept rather than anoffer where one of the parties is willing to be legally bound by oncethey are accepted by another.


Thecase at hand needs to determine whether Joyce would be entitled torecovering the travel expenses that she incurred as a result of thecircular that was made by the Exquisite Natural Beauty Hair Salon. Itshould be acknowledged that Joyce simply made the trip to the salonas a result of the promotion that was depicted by the circular, inwhich case determining whether this formed a proper basis fordemanding the services at the stated price is imperative. Similarly,this necessitates a determination of whether a contractual agreementhad been made when the circular was issued. Similarly, if suchclarification was offered after the services had been offered, wouldshe be under any obligation to pay for the services in the new price?


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