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EL7002 American Contract Law

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EL7002 American Contract Law

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EL7002 American Contract Law

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Course Code: EL7002
University: Columbia University

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Country: United States

Question
Majestic, feeling particularly generous one day, says to her wicked cousin, Empress, “I promise to sell you my silver sparkle slippers for $350 unless I change my mind.” The next day, Empress tells Majestic, “Here’s the $350. I’ll take those slippers now.” Majestic says,
 
“Forget it, you wicked thing. There’s no way you’re getting my slippers for any price.”
 
Can Empress enforce Majestic’s promise?
 
This essay must be written with IRAC formation and this Essay should start with what law governs? UCC-Uniform Commercial Code or Common Law.

Answer
This paper strives to determine whether Empress can enforce Majestic’s promise to sell her silver sparkle slipper to Empress for $350.
A contract is a promise to do or not to do a particular task in lieu of consideration; if violated, penalty in the form of damages is vested upon the breaching party. Contracts depend upon certain essential elements, which determine its legality. A valid contract includes an offer and its acceptance in the appropriate way, lawful object to form the contract, free consent of the parties and the capacity of the parties to contract (Frey 2015). In the case of Hotchkiss v National City Bank of New York, 200 F 287 (1911) the court articulated the Objective Theory of Contract and the meaning of ‘promise’ in a contract. An offer refers to the invitation of the offeror to the offeree to do or not to do a certain task. A contract comes into existences when the offeree accepts the offer of the offeror. An offer must be clear, direct and unequivocally approached to the other party to the contract. It is a clear and unambiguous statement of terms, which the offeror makes to form the agreement with the offeree. An offer can be unilateral or bilateral; unilateral when one of the parties is required to perform a task for the other in lieu of consideration while in bilateral offer both the parties promises to deliver or perform to give effect to the contract (Bayern 2015). To ensure that an offer is valid and appropriate, it must include that:

the terms of the agreement are stated clearly,
the parties are having the intention to form the agreement,
a proper communication has been made between the parties.

This principle refrains advertisement, catalogues, hoardings and store flyers from being a valid contract. These are termed as ‘invitation to treat’, which is not an essential element of a contract. However, the wording of such invitation is important to decide whether it can be given the status of an offer or an invitation to treat. The fundamental feature of an offer is that the offeror and offeree must intend to be bound to perform the contract without any further negotiation by accepting the terms. The offer should not have ambiguity or implied conditions on which the acceptance shall depend. On the other hand, invitation to treat refers to the mere announcement of the intention to form an agreement by way of negotiation. It is not an offer and therefore cannot be enforced to form a binding contract. A display of goods on the glass window of a shop does not signify an offer, but it is an invitation to treat. It gives a chance to a prospective buyer to make an offer to which the seller may or may not accept the offer.  The terms of the invitation may or may not be clear and definite as it is not an offer. In Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store, Inc 86 NW 2d 689 it was held that it is important to differentiate between offer and an invitation to treat. The former being an essential element to form a lawful contract while the latter is a mere invitation to attract potential offerors (Smits 2017). It may be ambiguous and unclear as it is not an offer. However, where there is an agreement formed by valid exchange of offer and acceptance between parties, the breach of such agreement would make the breaching party liable to pay damages.
In the given case, Majestic promised to give her silver sparkle slipper to her cousin Empress saying that she would give it to her unless she changes her mind. In this scenario, what Majestic said does not form a definite and lawful offer but signifies a mere invitation as it has ambiguity. An offer cannot consists of an ambiguous condition, which may vary with time. It is to be treated as an invitation, which is not to be considered as an offer. An invalid offer does not constitute a valid contract. There is no contract or agreement between Majestic and Empress, which would enable Empress to sue Majestic, as she did not fulfill her promise to give the silver sparkle slipper. Thus, where there is no contract, there would be no scope to enforce such contract.
Therefore, to conclude, Empress would not be able to enforce Majestic’s promise to give her silver sparkle slipper to Empress.
References
Bayern, S., 2015. Offer and Acceptance in Modern Contract Law: A Needles Concept. Cal. L. Rev., 103, p.67.
Frey, M.A., 2015. Essentials of contract law. Cengage Learning.
Hotchkiss v National City Bank of New York, 200 F 287 (1911)
Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store, Inc 86 NW 2d 689
Smits, J.M. ed., 2017. Contract law: a comparative introduction. Edward Elgar Publishing.

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