Routledge v Grant  4 Bing 653
The defendant offered to purchase the lease of the plaintiff’s house, an offer the defendant stated would be open for 6 weeks for the plaintiff’s consideration. The defendant later wrote to the plaintiff withdrawing his initial offer. The plaintiff wrote back to the defendant accepting his initial offer, all within the 6 weeks period initially given by the defendant.
1. Whether or not the defendant was contractually bound to keep his offer open for a period of 6 weeks.
2. Whether or not the defendant was bound by the plaintiff’s acceptance of his offer to purchase the lease.
1. The defendant was not contractually bound to keep his offer open for a period of 6 weeks.
2. The defendant was not bound by the plaintiff’s acceptance of his offer to purchase the lease.
The court’s ruling rested on the underlying principle that in a contract, one person cannot be bound whilst the other party is not. According to Best CJ, the defendant “gives the Plaintiff six weeks to consider but if six weeks are given on one side to accept an offer, the other has six weeks to put an end to it. One party cannot be bound without the other” and that “at the time of entering into this contract the engagement was all on one side.” The plaintiff’s lack of consideration meant that he was not bound and the defendant cannot be said to bound whilst the plaintiff was not. Best CJ also established the principle that “till both parties are agreed, either has a right to be off”