Chapter 31 concerns offers. An offer is a promise to enter into and perform a bargain on stated terms if the offeree accepts. Bargains are often, perhaps usually, formed by a sequence of offer and acceptance. Indeed, classical contract law placed the offer-and-acceptance sequence on center stage. Modern contract law recognizes that contractual liability can attach without an offer-and-acceptance process, as by a promisee’s reliance on a bargain promise. Nevertheless, that process is extremely significant: The instant an offer is accepted a contract is formed, and the instant a contract is formed each party becomes liable for expectation damages if she fails to perform the contract even if she changed her mind only a nanosecond after the contract was formed. Because the acceptance of an offer has such potent consequences much can ride on the web of rules that govern offer and acceptance.
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