Routledge v Grant
Court of Common Pleas
Citations: (1828) 4 Bingham New Cases 653; 130 ER 920.
The defendant put an offer on the claimant’s lease, hoping to take possession on or before the 25th of July for a term of 21 years. In his offer, the defendant asked for a reply by April 29th. The claimant only had one year left on the lease, so he agreed an extension of his lease with his landlord. Before formalising the extended lease contract with the landlord, the claimant responded to the defendant. The claimant’s letter, sent on the 7th of April, said he was willing to enter into this deal, but that he could only grant possession at the earliest on the 1st of August.
The defendant had since changed his mind. On receiving the claimant’s letter, he asked if he could withdraw his offer. The claimant refused to let the defendant withdraw the offer, since he had already undertaken considerable inconvenience in reliance on the offer. He later wrote to the defendant stating that he was able to give the defendant possession on the 25th of July. When he sent the defendant the keys to the house, the defendant rejected them.
- Had the defendant validly withdrawn his offer?
The court held in favour of the defendant. The defendant had validly withdrawn his offer before it was accepted. In any case, any contract would unenforceable because the claimant had failed to prove that he had extended his lease with his landlord: doing so required the execution of formal documents which the claimant had not presented as evidence to the court. The claimant therefore had failed to prove that he had any power to grant a 21-year lease.
This Case is Authority For…
An offeror can withdraw his offer at any time prior to acceptance. This is true even if the offer is said to be open for a particular length of time.
The claimant’s letter on the 7th of April was not treated as a valid acceptance by the court. This is likely because it did not mirror the terms of the defendant’s offer: the defendant wanted possession on the 25th of July, while the claimant could only give possession on the 1st of August. The letter sent on the 7th was therefore a counter-offer.