Harvey v Facey
Privy Council (Jamaica)
Citations:  AC 552.
The claimants sent a telegraph asking if the defendant was willing to sell them a piece of property (BHP). They asked what price the defendant would sell it for. The defendant responded by telegraph: ‘Lowest price for B. H. P. £900’. The claimant responded: ‘We agree to buy B. H. P. for £900 asked by you. Please send us your title-deed in order that we may get early possession’. The defendant did not reply. The claimant contended that there was a completed contract for the property.
- Was there an offer which the claimant accepted?
The Privy Council held in favour of the defendant. The claimant’s first telegram was not an offer, it was a request for information. The defendant’s response was not an offer, it was merely providing information. The claimant’s final telegram was an offer. However, the defendant did not accept this offer, so there was no contract.
This Case is Authority For…
Asking for information about a potential contract is not normally an offer. Responding with information is also not usually an offer.
This case is also implicit authority for the idea that silence is not sufficient to accept an offer. The defendant in this case did not, through their silence, accept the claimant’s offer.