promise must be made "in return for" the doing of the act. The court distinguishedbetween a unilateral contract and aconditional gift. The case is generally seen to
demonstrate the connection between the requirements of offer and acceptance,considerationand intention to create legal relations.
Aninvitation to treatis not an offer, but an indication of a person's willingness tonegotiate a contract. In
Harvey v. Facey
, an indication by the owner of property that he
or she might be interested in selling at a certain price, for example, has been regarded asan invitation to treat. Similarly in
Gibson v Manchester City Council
the words "may be
prepared to sell" were held to be a notification of price and therefore not a distinct offer,though in another case concerning the same change of policy (Manchester City Councilunderwent a change of political control and stopped the sale of council houses to theirtenants)
Storer v. Manchester City Council
, the court held that an agreement wascompleted by the tenant's signing and returning the agreement to purchase, as thelanguage of the agreement had been sufficiently explicity and the signature on behalf of the council a mere formality to be completed.The courts have tended to take a consistent approach to the identification of invitations totreat, as compared with offer and acceptance, in common transactions. The display of goods for sale, whether in a shop window or on the shelves of a self-service store, isordinarily treated as an invitation to treat and not an offer.
The holding of a publicauctionwill also usually be regarded as an invitation to treat.Auctions are, however, a special case generally. The rule is that the bidder is making anoffer to buy and the auctioneer accepts this in whatever manner is customary, usually thefall of the hammer.
A bidder may withdraw his or her bid at any time before the fall of the hammer, but any bid in any event lapses as an offer on the making of a higher bid, sothat if a higher bid is made, then withdrawn before the fall of the hammer, the auctioneercannot then purport to accept the previous highest bid. If an auction is without reservethen whilst there is no contract of sale between the owner of the goods and the highestbidder (because the placing of goods in the auction is an invitation to treat) there is acollateral contract between the auctioneer and the highest bidder that the auction will beheld without reserve (i.e., that the highest bid, however low, will be accepted).
Uniform Commercial Code provides that in an auction without reserve the goods may notbe withdreawn once they have been put up.
An offeror may revoke an offer before it has been accepted, but the revocation must becommunicated to the offeree, although not necessarily by the offeror. If the offer wasmade to the entire world, such as in Carlill's case, the revocation must take a form that issimilar to the offer. However, an offer may not be revoked if it has been encapsulated inanoption(see alsooption contract