February 7, 2023

Felthouse v. Bindley (1862)

JUDGEMENT: In the case of court held the plaintiff offered by means of a letter to purchase his nephew’s horse. The letter said: “If I hear no more about the horse, I consider the horse mine at £33.15s.” To this letter no reply was sent. But the nephew told the defendant, his auctioneer, not to sell the horse as it was already sold to his uncle. The auctioneer by mistake put up the horse for auction and sold it. The plaintiff sued the auctioneer on the ground that under the contract the horse had become his property and, therefore, defendant’s unauthorised sale amounted to conversion. But the action failed.

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The court observed that the nephew had made his mind and intended to give the horse to his uncle but he failed to communicate his acceptance to his uncle, and did nothing to bind himself to the offer. Nothing was done to bind the property to the uncle and therefore, the complaint that the horse was already sold to him was rejected. The Court further laid down that the acceptance of the offer must be communicated either to the offeror or a person appointed by the offeror for this purpose. No communication made to the stranger shall be taken into account for the purpose of binding the contract. Further, the Court also held that the offeror cannot put the burden of the refusal on the offeree. For example, the offeror cannot put clauses such as, ‘if there is no reply within the stipulated time, the same shall be deemed as acceptance of the offer’.

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