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Foundational Principles of Contract Law$
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Melvin A. Eisenberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199731404

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199731404.001.0001

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(p.417) Thirty-One Offers
Foundational Principles of Contract Law

Melvin A. Eisenberg

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   offer, acceptance, bargain, reliance, classical contract law, modern contract law

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