Hyde v. Wrench – Case Brief Summary

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Modified: 19th Nov 2023
Wordcount: 433 words
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Keywords: contract formation, law, case briefs, specific performance, counteroffer, acceptance, real estate, offer

Summary of Hyde v. Wrench, [1840] 3 Bea 334; 49 ER 132.

Facts

Wrench (D) offered to sell his estate to Hyde for 1200 pounds and Hyde (P) declined. Wrench then made a final offer to sell the farm for 1000 pounds. Hyde in turn offered to purchase the property for 950 pounds and Wrench replied that he would consider the offer and give an answer within approximately two weeks.

Wrench ultimately rejected the offer and the plaintiff immediately replied that he accepted Wrench’s earlier offer to sell the real estate for 1000 pounds. Wrench refused and Hyde sued for breach of contract and sought specific performance, contending that Wench’s offer had not been withdrawn prior to acceptance.

Issue

If one party makes an offer and the offeree makes a counteroffer, does the original offer remain open?

Holding and Rule

No. A counteroffer negates the original offer.

Kindersely and Keene

To constitute a valid contract there must be a simple acceptance of the terms proposed. Hyde rejected the defendant’s offer to sell and made a counter proposal which terminated the offer. The offer was never accepted and cannot be revived later.

Pemberton and Freeling

Wrench’s offer had not been withdrawn before Hyde accepted it and his acceptance created a binding contract.

The Master of the Rolls (Lord Langdale)

By making a counteroffer, the plaintiff rejected the original offer and he was not entitled to revive it. Under these facts the parties did not form a binding contract.

Disposition

Judgment for Wrench.

See Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. for a British contract law case brief in which it was held that an advertisement that sought a given performance by consumers was a unilateral offer for sale, and the form of the offer was such that notice of acceptance was not required.


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