Dickinson v Dodds (1875) 2 Ch D 463
The defendant, Mr Dodds, wrote to the plaintiff, Mr Dickinson, offering to sell his house at $800. The defendant promised to keep the offer open till 12th April. On 11th April, the defendant sold the house to another person, and this was communicated to the plaintiff by Mr Berry, an agent of the defendant. The plaintiff later saw the defendant and accepted his offer, but the defendant informed him he was too late as the property has been sold. The plaintiff sued for breach of contract and an order for specific performance.
1. Whether or not Dodd’s offer was still valid for acceptance after Dickinson was told the property had been sold.
1. That the offer was no longer valid after Dickenson obtained knowledge about its sale to another party.
Majority of the judges agreed that for there to be a valid contract, there ought to be an offer continuing up to the time of the acceptance. If the offer can be said to be non-existent at the time of acceptance, then acceptance comes to nothing. It was believed that the plaintiff was made aware that the defendant had already sold the house as at the time of the former’s acceptance. The plaintiff’s knowledge, irrespective of the source, was seen to be “as if Dodds had told him in so many words, ‘I withdraw the offer.’”